Elliott's title hopes hang by a thread after Kansas drama
Chase Elliott certainly earned his freshman blues on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
After he was wrecked at Charlotte Motor Speedway and fell to ninth in the Chase standings, Elliott was looking for a win — if not just a solid points day in the Hollywood Casino 400.
Unfortunately, the driver of the No. 24 Chevy did not accomplish either task.
“I don't know what to do man, we were trying as hard as we can,” Elliott said after finishing 31st. “We had such a good car today again, and....I don't know what to do. Just keep after it and try to move on."
Elliott qualified 13th. After Happy Hour on Saturday, he posted the fourth fastest single-lap speed and the fourth Best 10 Consecutive Lap Average. Elliott was in the top 10 by Lap 15. When the first caution was called 10 laps later, he had positioned his car into eighth.
By the fourth caution on Lap 115, Elliott had powered his way into the top five. The pit crew gained Elliott two positions and he restarted third behind Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick on Lap 120. Harvick passed Kenseth six laps later. Elliott followed on Lap 135 and began reeling Harvick in. He passed the No. 4 Chevy entering Turn 1 on Lap 168.
Elliott pitted four laps later, then as he cycled back to the point on Lap 174, a left rear fender rub forced the No. 24 Chevy back into the pits. Elliott complained that his car felt as if something had broke. He described it feeling like the back of the car was swaying.
"We really don't know,” Elliott said. “I don't know if we got the left rear getting up on the race track, or something and it got into the fender and cut it down.”
Elliott dropped to 24th. After the fifth caution, on Lap 182, he restarted 27th, one circuit off the lead lap. By the eighth and final caution on Lap 234, Elliott worked his way into the lucky dog spot and restarted 24th.
His spotter Eddie D’Hondt reminded him, “Every spot counts.”
Elliott was running 22nd when he cut his left rear tire and slowed on the back stretch on Lap 244. He pitted, dropped to 32nd and finished 31st.
With one race remaining in the Round of 12, Elliott finds himself in the cellar — 62 points behind Jimmie Johnson.
What’s his strategy for Talladega Superspeedway next weekend?
"I just will go there, and race our hearts out and try to win I guess. That's about all we can do I guess. We have something to be proud of in the way we have been running. There are just some things we can't control. I don't know how to fix that stuff, but I appreciate so hard.
“These guys deserve better on this SunEnergy1/ NAPA team. We are bummed, but what do you do. You just have to move on.”
Despite Elliott’s misfortunes, race winner Kevin Harvick believes, “Chase is doing a good job.”
“In his situation, he's got a championship team, crew chief, that have come in and really helped him progress through a lot of things,” Harvick said.
And if Elliott can’t win at Talladega, he might need his team more than ever after next Sunday.
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