Elliott may have the regular season championship this year, but the trophy he really wants is waiting in Phoenix. That is where the 2022 champion will be crowned in three weeks. Elliott has been able to ride his points cushion in the standings up to this point, but he is going to have to turn it up a notch if he wants another title.

Chase began these playoffs with a 36th place finish at Darlington. After missing out on the top-ten again at Kansas, he earned a solid runner-up finish at Bristol. The next round also had a rocky start with a 32nd place finish at Texas. He responded with a win at Talladega when Erik Jones pushed him to the lead on the final lap of the race.

The last two races for Chase have not gone the way anyone would have expected. He finished 20th on the Charlotte ROVAL after getting pushed off course in the closing laps, then was nowhere to be found last weekend at Las Vegas where he finished 21st. He has an average finishing position of 20.3 in the six playoff races outside of Talladega.

Compare these results to his playoff run in 2020, where he won three of the last five races, and finished 7th or better in seven of the ten races.

Joey Logano has already locked himself into the Championship Four in Phoenix, by virtue of winning the race last weekend. Elliott is the only other former Cup champion in the field, and is currently 3rd in the standings, 17 points above the cutline entering these final two races.

Chase has never won at Homestead in his six career starts, although he did finish runner-up in 2020. His average finish of 9.0 here ranks second among all active drivers with more than two starts.

"We would love to see our inconsistency improve some,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “We want to be better each and every week, not be as hit-or-miss as we’ve been, and I think that’s where our head is at right now, just trying to make that a little better. We’ve got three really big weeks ahead and some major opportunity out there hanging for the taking."

“The good news is I feel like we have a really smart and talented group of guys here. We’ve been talking a lot this week and if this weekend goes bad, I can assure you it will not be for a lack of effort. We’re still very much alive. It’s a grind, it’s a fight, and it certainly doesn’t get any easier."

Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson echoed those same sentiments. "The opening races in each round of these playoffs have not been good to our team. Our goal is to get maximum points and just have a really solid race this weekend. That will help us going into Martinsville."