Chase Elliott says penalties no sign his team is feeling pressure to win

RICHMOND, Va. -- Chase Elliott, who seeks his first NASCAR Cup Series victory, has seen his team penalized three times over the past 19 races for postrace technical violations.

Elliott doesn't view the violations as a sign that his Hendrick Motorsports crew is pressing, feeling the pressure to earn Elliott that first Cup trophy.

At Chicagolalnd last year, the team was seen removing tape off the rear spoiler and had the car's wrap lift off the quarter panel. NASCAR docked Elliott 15 points for illegal modifications to the race car along with one-race suspensions to his crew chief and car chief.

This year, the team was docked 25 points and had its car chief suspended for two races for a rear suspension violation in March at Phoenix. The team was then docked 20 points and crew chief Alan Gustafson was suspended for two races for what the team said was an unintentional window brace failure earlier this month at Texas.

With interim crew chief Kenny Francis guiding the team this weekend at Richmond Raceway, Elliott qualified second Friday for the race Saturday night.

"I think we all want to do good," Elliott said. "But can I say that we're pushing and getting in trouble and doing some things on purpose to have those kind of things happen? No.

"Not all of it has been purposeful. We're pushing every area we can just like everybody else is and, frankly, I have no shame in that. I don't think anybody should."

Elliott would be tied for 15th in the standings if he had those 45 points he lost earlier this year. Instead, he sits 34 points out of the current playoff cutoff in 23rd.

He said he hasn't looked at the points wondering what might have been.

"I have not -- we are not 15th and we do not have the points that we were penalized for," Elliott said. "So it is irrelevant."

Elliott, who has 85 career Cup starts, wouldn't rule out that he's pressing, just that the penalties aren't a result.

"You're always pressing, right?" Elliott said. "I want to win. I want to do my job. I'm working on two-and-a-half years of being here and would love to earn my spot to stay for a long time."