WATKINS GLEN, N.Y.—Chase Elliott will start the Go Bowling at The Glen where he left off last year—from the point.
Elliott won his first Watkins Glen pole on Saturday with a speed of 127.297mph.
He edged out his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron by .153mph (.083-seconds) for his third pole of the season and the seventh pole of his Cup career.
“Qualifying well here is important because the strategy is important,” Elliott said. “Pitting these cars backwards. You need good pit selection and track position. This is a great result for our NAPA Chevy team.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., will roll off third and fourth, respectively on Sunday. Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all transferred to the final round of qualifying.
Last year’s Go Bowling at The Glen was a game changer for Elliott. Entering the weekend, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet sat 12th in the standings.
On Sunday, Elliott not only reached a milestone with his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup win, but more importantly he secured a position in the Playoffs.
“That was honestly a nice add-on to the win,” Elliott said. “Really, I didn’t think about it until I got home and it felt nice to not have to worry about points racing through Richmond, which we’ve done I guess both years leading up to that.
“It’s not fun, going to Richmond and knowing you’re right on the cut of blowing a tire and ending your night and you’re out. Anything could happen, so it was just nice to go and not have to worry about that.
“But it’s way more than just having one sticker going into the Playoffs and knowing you’re in that first round. The guys you are going to be racing probably have multiple wins by that point in the season to be really honest with you. It’s about getting those bonus points and knowing that when you get into the final ten races, that is going to help propel you to Homestead because that is what your competitors are doing.”
Elliott took care of business earlier this year with his win at Talladega Superspeedway in April. Locking into the Playoffs after 10 races offered the team the luxury of testing packages and gathering bonus points for the post-season.
But after three DNFs in the last six races, Elliott is hoping a solid run at The Glen can get his team back on track before the championship run begins.
“It’s been a rough month or so,” Elliott said. “Some things were out of our hands and some things have been in our hands. Those are the frustrating ones, the ones that you can control. Making mistakes that we shouldn’t make, I shouldn’t make and things of that nature.
“So, it’s about cleaning that stuff up, it happens. I can’t say I’m bogged down by it, but I certainly want to get things going on the right path. We are still in the summer stretch, so we still have time to do that. This is as good of place of any to get things going in the right direction. Anywhere will be fine. Here and now would be great.”