Pit Note 3: Elliott, Truex or Blaney: Who's the Pre-Race Favorite for Sunday?
Do numbers lie? According to Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, they do.
Or at least they don't tell the whole story.
Elliott has the best average finish on road courses among all active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, 11.56. Does that make him a favorite for Sunday's Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway?
Not so fast, Elliott said.
"I think (Martin) Truex (Jr.) has pretty well asserted himself as the best road racer in our series as of late," Elliott said. "He's won the majority of them and has finished second or third in the others, so I think until you're beating him regularly, you're probably not the guy to beat."
Ryan Blaney, last year's Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 winner, is taking his reigning success in stride.
Blaney won after Truex and Jimmie Johnson collided in the final chicane before the finish, giving Blaney - who took the white flag in third place - an unforgettable victory.
But Blaney was more interested in seeing the new backstretch chicane than touting his potential for a repeat win.
"Coming back here, it's nice coming back to a place you've won at, no matter how you win it, how you do it," Blaney said. "Honestly, I was more excited coming back here to see the new chicane. That's pretty unique and a lot different than we had last year. We're talking about adding more braking markers (before the chicane) because there's only six of them, and we're braking at the hypothetical seven, so we're going to add a couple more.
"It's nice coming back. That's kind of all I've heard this week was 'past winner.' I don't really think about that stuff too much. I think about the next one coming up."
Briscoe Seeks Back-to-Back ROVAL™ Wins
Last year, Chase Briscoe captured the inaugural Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Armed with another potent machine from the Stewart-Haas Racing stable, Briscoe believes his chances of a second victory are solid heading into Saturday's green flag.
"I feel like we have really good speed," Briscoe said. "We were second and third in practice. It's a good chance to go back-to-back. It's going to be tough since there are so many variables in this race and with the Playoffs going on. There are a lot of Playoff guys (going) to back-up cars and they'll be back in the pack. … This place is so treacherous. You try to get more speed and you're right there on that edge. This place, there is no run-off room. It's almost like a street course. There is literally no room for mistakes. You miss your mark by a couple of inches and you're in the wall."
When Charlotte Motor Speedway rolled out its new backstretch chicane for the ROVAL™, Briscoe wasn't sure what to expect. He's still unsure how to tackle the turns after making his first laps on it during practice on Friday.
"I think the new chicane is still going to be hard," Briscoe added. "You can make passes going in there. Going into the first part you can pass, but it gets narrow after that. Left or right, It's almost a deal if you are on the inside going in you are going to push out of the exit and the same thing for someone else if they are inside you. I think there is going to have to be a lot of agreement going into that corner to not have chaos but I think it definitely creates an easier way to pass compared to what we had last year.
"It's crazy how early we have to start slowing down. It catches you off guard. It's almost like as soon as you come off of Turn 2 on the big track, you're on the brake. It's pretty fun we have that curb on the inside. It's a cool perspective for the fans. It's fun when you're in the race car."