The 2023 Cup Series season will feature Chase Elliott pursuing more wins and a return to the playoffs. He and the No. 9 team will also try to help Alan Gustafson take the top spot on an important leaderboard.
Gustafson is second on the active crew chiefs list with 38 wins. He is only two behind Kevin Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers. Elliott was not aware that his crew chief was within reach of this top spot prior to the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, but he made it clear that he wants to help Gustafson capture several more wins.
“I think you guys all know how I feel about Alan and how good of a crew chief and leader that I think he is and a guy that probably doesn’t get talked about enough from just what he brings to the table,” Elliott said. “But he probably enjoys not getting talked about or asked a lot of questions too.
“So but [he] certainly does a really good job and it’s helped elevate me to a level that I think where we all enjoy working with each other. And we’d love to check that box for him, for sure. He deserves it.”
The First Points-Paying Opportunity Will Be in February
The first opportunity for Elliott and Gustafson to potentially win a race will be the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum on February 5. Though this will add a trophy to the collection.
The first points-paying race will be the Daytona 500 on February 19. This is a race where Elliott has won the pole twice, including his first-ever start in the Crown Jewel event. However, he has not won on the main configuration of Daytona International Speedway in 14 starts.
The Georgia native has posted two top-10 finishes in his past two Daytona 500 starts. This includes a runner-up behind Michael McDowell in 2021 after Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked on the final lap.
Gustafson, for comparison, has 38 wins as a crew chief. None have taken place on the oval configuration of Daytona International Speedway. He guided Elliott to a win on the Daytona Road Course in 2020, which is his only points-paying Cup Series victory at the track.
Elliott Can Move Up Another List
If Elliott continues to win races at his current rate, it is possible that Gustafson will pass Childers on the list of active crew chiefs with wins. After all, he has five consecutive seasons with at least two wins. The veteran crew chief could potentially take the top spot while Elliott could make some moves of his own.
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet currently has 18 career Cup Series wins. This puts him in a tie for 48th in NASCAR history with Geoffrey Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman.
One win would move Elliott into a tie with teammate Kyle Larson, Davey Allison, Fonty Flock, Greg Biffle, and Buddy Baker. Two wins would put him in a tie with Speedy Thompson, who is 42nd on the all-time wins list.
There are dozens of NASCAR legends with more career Cup Series wins than Chase Elliott. However, he will certainly have several opportunities to pass many of them considering that he is only 27 years old and he just signed a five-year extension that will keep him in top-tier equipment.