CONCORD, N.C. – Chase Elliott’s body of work across the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season had him atop the board in several statistical categories. The 26-year-old led the series in wins (five), laps led (857) and average finish (12.47). He won the regular-season championship for the first time in his career and reached the Championship 4 for the third straight season. While the final result was not what he had hoped for, there were still plenty of good moments to take from the season. The year started off with major contract news as the 2020 champion signed a five-year extension that will run through 2027 to remain the driver of the No. 9. Later in the season, NAPA – Elliott’s primary partner – inked a multi-year extension to remain with him and the organization.
Consistency in the regular season saw Elliott grab the points lead coming out of the fifth race of the season. From that point on, he would lead or hold a share of the lead the rest of the regular season en route to earning the regular-season championship ahead of the final race before the playoffs at Daytona International Speedway. During the regular season, he recorded victories at Dover Motor Speedway (in May), Nashville Superspeedway (in June), Atlanta Motor Speedway (in July), Pocono Raceway (in July). The win at Dover was the first time he had recorded multiple wins at a non-road course. He had a five-race stretch of races – his wins at Nashville, Atlanta and Pocono were part of this – where he finished in the top two in each event. While he surprisingly did not win at any of the six road course races on the schedule, Elliott did nab poles at two of those events (Road America and Watkins Glen International) and led over 10 laps at four of the six races.
Entering the playoffs as the top seed, thanks to his four wins to that point and the regular-season championship, Elliott had an up-and-down postseason. Struggles in the opening races in each round would be followed by solid bounce-back performances that would see Elliott advance. His win at Talladega Superspeedway locked the driver of the No. 9 into the Round of 8 and marked the second non-road course track where Elliott had recorded multiple wins. That victory also matched his season-best mark that had been previously reached in his championship-winning campaign of 2020. For the third straight season, the four-time National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver Award winner reached the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway. However, an incident early in the final stage with fellow title contender Ross Chastain would impact the rest of his day and lead to a fourth-place finish in the final standings. The 2022 season marked the fifth straight season that saw Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson record multiple wins and marked the sixth time in seven years that reached at least the Round of 8 in the playoffs.
Off the track, the Chase Elliott Foundation collaborated with Hendrick Motorsports and NAPA for the sixth edition of its “DESI9N TO DRIVE” art initiative with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The project saw 16-year-old Dani Cuevas create the winning paint scheme for the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway over Labor Day weekend. That design was also applied to the racing suit, helmet, gloves and shoes for Elliott. Parts of the racing uniform were auctioned off through The NASCAR Foundation with all auction proceeds going to the Chase Elliott Foundation to benefit Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s. The Chase Elliott Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and financial assistance to well-qualified charitable organizations with an emphasis on helping others live healthier, happier lives. DELIVERING AT DOVER: Elliott rode early-season consistency to the top of the standings – a position he maintained a share of from the fifth race of the regular season. However, he had yet to win a race in the Next Gen era. That changed at Dover when the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro earned the victory. His win meant all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers had won in the season’s first 11 events.
TOP-TWO STREAK: The summer portion of the schedule saw Elliott get on a roll with five straight top-two finishes. He won at Nashville, finished second at Road America, won at Atlanta, finished second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and won at Pocono. The victory at Atlanta was extremely special to the Dawsonville, Georgia, native as it is the closest Cup Series track to his hometown. CROWN HIM: Elliott took home the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Regular-Season Championship, marking the second season in a row that a Hendrick Motorsports driver has achieved that honor. The regular season crown added 15 playoff points to Elliott’s bucket of 25 playoff points that he earned over the course of race wins and stage wins. That allowed him to start the Round of 16 (as well as the Round of 12 and the Round of 8) with 40 playoff points and a sizable margin ahead of his competitors.
TAMING TALLADEGA: Elliott’s second Cup Series win at Talladega locked him into the Round of 8. The 26-year-old got the better of Ryan Blaney in a last-lap battle to the checkered flag. The win was especially clutch after Elliott’s disappointing result in the opening race of the Round of 12 at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory marked his series-best fifth win of the season and also his 18th win in the sport’s top series. TRIPLE TRIPS TO THE CHAMP 4: For the third straight season, Elliott reached the Championship 4. To date, he is the only driver to qualify for the title race in the three years that Phoenix Raceway has hosted the event. An incident early in the final stage with Ross Chastain hindered Elliott’s race from there and he ultimately came in fourth in the standings for the second season in a row.
Elliott and the No. 9 team have the pieces in place to aim for a fourth straight Championship 4 appearance. Expect the squad to place an importance on the regular-season championship since those extra playoff points are a nice way to “hedge your bet” on postseason advancement as the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has said in the past. Those points proved valuable in his playoff run this past season. Gustafson and Elliott have the second-most wins together (18) among active driver/crew chief pairings in the series and that total should only increase in 2023. The level of trust each has in the other is a big reason why they have been so successful together. It would be surprising if one of those added wins to their total did not come on a road course – Elliott is the wins leader among active drivers on road courses (seven) and there are six races on serpentine layouts.