Chase Elliott did more than win a race on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He removed all doubt that he is the favorite to win his second NASCAR Cup Series championship in three seasons.
Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, William Byron, and Denny Hamlin may only be one behind in the win column, but Elliott has established momentum heading into the final seven races of the regular season, a stretch that plays into his strengths.
Road courses are typically Chase Elliott’s strength
The first thing to note about Chase Elliott building a somewhat comfortable lead in points more than two-thirds of the way through the regular season is that he’s done it without cashing in on his strength. Seven of his 13 career NASCAR Cup Series wins entering the season came on road courses, but all three victories in 2022 have been on ovals.
In three starts on road courses this year, Elliott has placed 26th at Fontana, eighth at Sonoma, and second at Road America. Oddly enough, the three drivers who rode onto Victory Lane were all first-time Cup Series winners. While they were making headlines, Elliott was picking up some race points and seven stage points, but no stage victories that count toward playoff standings.
The odds strongly suggest that will change on the upcoming road courses at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen. Winning even one of the two would constitute a boost in season points and playoff points.