Unlike countless rookies before him, Chase Elliott’s illustration of success is not by chance. Heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for the History 300, the 11th race of the season, Elliott holds a two-point lead over both Elliott Sadler (second) and Regan Smith (third).
Elliott secured his points lead for another week after locking in his fifth top-five finish of the season at Iowa last week. But Sadler was right in step with Elliott, also posting his fifth top-five of 2014. Running in third, Smith has been ‘Mr. Consistent’ this season, posting a series leading 10 top-10 finishes.
The high level of competition amongst these three drivers is almost peerless. All three have an average finish in the top-10, they all have one or more wins this season and none have posted a DNF, yet.
The tight points battle is just waiting for one of the three to slip, but Charlotte might not be the stage for such a kerfuffle. CMS is a sister track to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway where Elliott posted his first series win, and his series average finish on 1.5-mile speedways is 3.0. Elliott also leads the series in season-to-date Driver Rating at 109.8
Veteran Elliott Sadler is leaning on his experience this weekend. Sadler’s average finish of 11.5 on 1.5-mile tracks in 2014 is the foundation for his current championship momentum. Watch for this weekend to be more of the same for Sadler. He has posted four top-five finishes in 14 series starts at Charlotte.
Smith also has excelled on 1.5-mile tracks this season. He finished 10th at Las Vegas and seventh at Texas. Of the three championship contenders he has the best average finish (6.8) in the first 10 races of the season. Smith finished 10th in this event last year.