After last week’s win, Elliott hopes to continue success at Dover

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hooters Give A Hoot Chevrolet, signs autographs for fans at Dover International Speedway on Saturday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Chuck Snyder)

DOVER — No, Chase Elliott didn’t have the whole thing planned out.

He was just celebrating, standing on the door of his car after doing a burnout, when the car started moving.

All Elliott could do was hop off and watch as his car slowly backed across the track before coming to rest against an infield barrier.

“I guess it was a good problem to have if you forgot to put it in gear after you did a burnout after the race,” Elliott said on Friday. “That’s not a bad problem. I figured it was going to hit something sometime and stop, so I just let it go.”

Elliott, naturally, would love to get some chances to work on his victory celebration.

Chase Elliott during Monster Energy Cup qualifying at Dover International Speedway on Saturday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

With his win last weekend in the Monster Energy Cup Series Roval 400 at Charlotte, Elliott comes to Dover International Speedway this weekend looking like a serious playoff contender.

The 23-year-old driver will start today’s Drydene 400 in sixth place in the season Cup point standings. But it’s more than that.

Elliott has also had his share of success at the next few stops on the schedule. That includes the Monster Mile, where he’s finished outside the top five just once in seven Cup races here.

Elliott is the defending champion in today’s race, reaching victory lane here last October. But Elliott said previous success on a track does not guarantee more good things in the future.

“I think we just have to keep pushing and this round definitely isn’t going to be an easy round,” said Elliott. “I think it’s going to be tough. I think the caliber of cars left, there are some really strong teams in that 12, so I don’t expect this to be easy and we are certainly going to treat it that way.”

On the other hand, Elliott said it doesn’t hurt to have someone like Hendricks Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson to go to for advice.

Johnson, who didn’t make the playoffs, is the all-time leading race winner at Dover. He’s currently 18th in the points standings.

Elliott credits Johnson and “his natural feel for the track” for a good deal of his early success on the Monster Mile.

“I honestly think a lot of it is him and being able to lean on him throughout practice,” said Elliiott. “I’m going to continue to lean on him and hopefully we can have a solid day and try to get some more bonus points.”

In 2014, Elliott won the Nationwide Series season title. And he’s been a solid top-10 finisher in the Cup standings for four years in a row.

Considering that he’s already won at the next track — Talladega — this season, this could be a big couple weeks as he tries to advance to the final eight in the playoffs.

Right now, Elliott is focused only on Dover. He’ll start fifth in today’s race.

“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “I think that’s what makes Dover fun for the drivers and the teams, and with how much it can change throughout a day.

“To me, in the past, it seems like when we’ve been good here, you don’t want it to be really good to start. You don’t want it to be perfect, I don’t think. If it is, I think you just have to know in your mind that we have some work to do to get a direction. Yeah, it’s laps on the track, but definitely not the environment that you’re going to see on Sunday after halfway.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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