Expectations will be high for Chase Elliott in 2018, and the 22-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver knows he has to elevate his game in the upcoming season.
Elliott will have a new number in 2018 as he switches from No. 24 to No. 9, and he’ll also have an upgraded Chevy Camaro. He recently tested out the new ride, and he told reporters he’s ready to improve upon his 2017 season that included 12 top-5s, but no wins.
He also discussed his late season feud with Denny Hamlin. Hamlin wrecked Elliott at Martinsville and ended his chances of making the Championship 4 at Homestead, and Elliott returned the favor two weeks later at Phoenix. Elliott said he wants to “beat people the right way” in 2018.
“I’m a big believer in that so I will race guys as they race me and obviously I want to beat people the right way because I think at the end of the day racing people the right way and doing it with respect is probably going to make them more mad than it would if you did something dirty to get by them,” Elliot said via Motor Racing Network. “I’m a big believer in that and I think that is the best way to do it and that is kind of the way I’ve tried to do it in the past. I’ve made mistakes like everybody else, but I think it’s important to carry yourself and try not to let people run over you.”
Fans will certainly be watching every interaction between Hamlin and Elliott next season to see if it escalates even further. Elliott has a bigger fanbase than Hamlin, and Hamlin was even greeted with boos after the incident.
But if Elliott is going to contend for a championship, he has far more to worry about than the feud with Hamlin. He has the tools at his disposal to turn those top-5s into wins, and fans will be expecting a lot from him next season.
The future is bright for Elliott, but 2018 will see him transition from a rising star to a contender — and the pressure will be on him to deliver.