Points Update: Chase Elliott Is in the Driver’s Seat for His Second NASCAR Cup Series Championship

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

Chase Elliott waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022. | James Gilbert/Getty Images
Chase Elliott waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022. | James Gilbert/Getty Images

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.

Chase Elliott is far ahead of where he was at this point in 2020

Chase Elliott went into the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as the No. 7 finisher in regular-season points. Kevin Harvick (seven) and Denny Hamlin (six) combined for 13 regular-season wins and started the playoffs with 42 and 27 points, respectively. By comparison, Elliott won two races and carried just 16 points into the playoffs. He didn’t take over the points lead until the Martinsville race, the final contest before the Championship 4.

Through 19 races that season, Elliott was fifth in points and trailed leader Hamlin in playoff points, 28-10. He picked up another win down the stretch but still lost a little bit of ground along the way despite six top-10 showings in the last seven races before the playoffs.

Elliott was similarly solid down the stretch last year, with another six top-10 results. If he replicates that this summer, he should easily finish the regular season with a minimum of another 20 playoff points, giving him at least 40.

Recent results, including two wins in his last three races, bode well for Elliott.

Atlanta was kind to Dawsonville’s favorite son

Being from Dawsonville, Georgia, Chase Elliott regards Atlanta Motor Speedway as his home track. This weekend, there was no place like home. Elliott won the first two stages and the race, maxing out his playoff points for the day.

The seven points raised his total to 20, finally creating some separation from the four drivers who’ve scored two wins apiece. If he does get to 40 playoff points after the Daytona summer race, Elliott could stake himself to a 20-point lead over everyone else in the field.

That would be a huge step toward making it through the first two transfers.

Here’s how the current points picture looks:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
1 Chase Elliott 684 3 5 20 6 13
2 Ryan Blaney 637 0 5 5 7 10
3 Ross Chastain 634 2 3 13 10 13
4 Kyle Larson 579 1 2 7 8 10
5 Kyle Busch 569 1 1 6 6 11
6 Martin Truex Jr. 566 0 5 5 2 7
7 Joey Logano 562 2 2 12 5 8
8 Christopher Bell 523 0 0 0 4 10
9 Alex Bowman 508 1 1 6 3 9
10 William Byron 505 2 3 13 4 5
11 Kevin Harvick 504 0 0 0 4 10
12 Aric Almirola 481 0 0 0 2 6
13 Austin Cindric 465 1 1 6 3 6
14 Tyler Reddick 458 1 2 7 5 7
15 Daniel Suarez 451 1 2 7 4 7
16 Kurt Busch 449 1 2 7 5 7
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
17 Erik Jones 447 0 0 0 2 6
18 Chase Briscoe 443 1 2 7 3 4
19 Denny Hamlin 409 2 2 12 3 4
20 Austin Dillon 407 0 0 0 3 6
21 Michael McDowell 406 0 0 0 1 7
22 Justin Haley 374 0 0 0 1 2
23 Chris Buescher 360 0 0 0 1 5
24 Bubba Wallace 345 0 1 1 1 2
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 333 0 0 0 1 5
26 Cole Custer 323 0 0 0 0 1
27 Ty Dillon 310 0 0 0 0 1
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Top 5 Top 10
28 Harrison Burton 308 0 0 0 0 1
29 Todd Gilliland 284 0 0 0 0 0
30 Brad Keselowski 266 0 0 -10 0 2
31 Corey LaJoie 222 0 0 0 1 1
32 Cody Ware 148 0 0 0 0 0
33 David Ragan 61 0 0 0 0 1
34 Joey Hand 44 0 0 0 0 0
35 Greg Biffle 24 0 0 0 0 0
36 Jacques Villeneuve 15 0 0 0 0 0
37 Boris Said 11 0 0 0 0 0
38 Kyle Tilley 7 0 0 0 0 0

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