Elliott achieved this goal by putting enough points between him and contender Ryan Blaney, who entered the weekend second in points. Elliott started from the pole before finishing Stage 1 in the 24th position due to his pit strategy. He moved his lead over Blaney to 120 points, which ensured that the Team Penske driver would not be able to chase him down.
This regular-season championship is another significant goal that Elliott has checked off during his full-time Cup Series career. It goes along with his All-Star Race win and his 2020 Cup Series championship.
Equally important is the impact that this title will have on the playoffs. Elliott was already set to enter as the top seed with his series-leading four wins and five stage wins (tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Blaney). This all but guaranteed that he would move past the Round of 16 with ease, but now he will add 15 more playoff points to his total.
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Elliott Continues the Hendrick Motorsports Streak
Elliott’s win marks the second consecutive season that a Hendrick Motorsports driver has won the regular-season championship. He joins teammate Kyle Larson, who won the regular-season title in 2021 before going on to capture the Cup Series championship.
NASCAR began evaluating the possibility of introducing a regular-season championship during the 2016 season. There were several comments from drivers who built up large advantages during the regular season only to watch them fade away once the playoffs began.
“One of the things we’re looking at is [in] the first 26 races, are there some additional things we could do for the winner of the regular season,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s current COO, said in 2016. “I think that’s certainly fair for us to look at — and we are.”
Martin Truex Jr. was the first driver to win the Cup Series regular-season championship. He captured the win in 2017. Kyle Busch followed with his regular-season championship wins in 2018 and 2019. Kevin Harvick captured the trophy in 2020.
Elliott Can Join a Unique List
With the regular-season championship clinched, Elliott can now turn his attention to stacking even more points for the playoffs. He has reached the championship four the past two seasons, and he will set out to make it three in a row.
If Elliott can achieve this goal, he will have the opportunity to battle for his second career Cup Series championship, which would put him on a unique list. He could join three other drivers on the list of those who won both the regular-season championship and the Cup Series championship.
Truex was the first to achieve this goal back in the 2017 season when he drove for Furniture Row Racing. Busch followed in 2019 with his second career Cup Series championship. Larson was the latest with his dominance in 2021.
Busch could have joined this list as early as 2018, but he was unable to achieve this feat. He finished fourth in the championship standings while Team Penske’s Joey Logano won his first title. Harvick, who won nine times in 2020, missed out on the season finale after a rough Round of Eight. This opened up the door for Elliott to win his first championship.