Analysis: Michigan, surprisingly enough, is statistically Chase Elliott’s best track

2021 Chaseelliott
Jared C. Tilton
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Chase Elliott may be known as a road-course ace, but the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver’s best track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit is actually Michigan International Speedway.

That’s right, Elliott has thrived on the 2-mile oval in Brooklyn, Michigan, averaging a 7.7 career finish. That’s his best mark among tracks with more than five starts and his top overall on a non-road course.

MICHIGAN: Weekend schedule | Paint schemes | Starting lineup

Circuit of The Americas 1 1.0
Road America 1 1.0
Charlotte Roval 3 2.7
Indy Road Course 1 4.0
Watkins Glen 5 6.0
Michigan 10 7.7

That 7.7 average finish is No. 1 among all active drivers — no stipulation here. Kevin Harvick falls in second at 11.1 in 40 starts, followed by Joey Logano in third at 11.7 in 24 starts.

Better yet, Elliott’s mark tops the all-time Michigan leaderboard. There are technically three drivers with a better average finish, but they have two or fewer starts.

Gary Bettenhausen 1 4.0
Sam Sommers 2 6.0
Fred Lorenzen 1 7.0
Chase Elliott 10 7.7
Carl Edwards 25 9.4
Cale Yarborough 36 9.6

Another all-time record Elliott has matched: most runner-up finishes at Michigan before first win there. He’s tied with Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Martin Truex Jr. at three second-place results. Gordon is the only one — so far — who eventually made it to Victory Lane, and he did so in his 12th start and then went on to win two more times. Labonte never pulled off the accomplishment in 55 starts, and Truex is still trying to with 30 attempts already notched.

The fact Elliott has not won at Michigan makes his average finish that much more impressive from a consistency standpoint. He has led laps in just four events for a total of 76 laps out front; that’s not all that many when compared to the 1,855 laps run. He has never won a stage, either. (Stage racing was introduced in 2017.)

But in his 10 Michigan starts, Elliott has three top fives and nine top 10s. His worst finish was 20th in 2019. Last year, Elliott placed in the top 10 in both of the doubleheader races — seventh and ninth. He was one of seven to do so. The others were Truex, Logano, Kevin Harvick (swept the weekend), Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch.

Seven of Elliott’s 13 career wins came on a road course, including his two victories this season (Circuit of The Americas and Road America). His oval wins were at Dover International Speedway (1 mile), Kansas Speedway (1.5 miles), Talladega Superspeedway (2.66 miles), Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5), Martinsville Speedway (.526 miles) and Phoenix Raceway (1 mile). A reminder: Michigan is 2 miles long.

BetMGM has Elliott at 7-1 odds to win Sunday — the second favorite. The No. 9 car will line up second for the green flag.