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NASCAR Cup Indianapolis

Elliott couldn't top "mistake-free" McDowell run at Indy RC

Chase Elliott was in an excellent position to pounce if race leader Michael McDowell made a mistake on Sunday, but he never got the chance.

Elliott, who has proven to be a phenomenal road course racer in his NASCAR Cup career, came up just short in Sunday’s race at the Indy Road Course but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Having missed seven races due to injury and a NASCAR suspension this season, Elliott needs a win to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs. He appeared to have a car capable of contending on Sunday.

Elliott, McDowell and Daniel Suarez all made their final green flag stop on lap 50 of 82 but McDowell beat Elliott off pit road while Suarez – who had the No. 1 pit stall thanks to winning the pole – was slowed by a problem with his air hose.

Once the cycle of stops was completed, McDowell emerged with a more than 3-second lead over Elliott. The race went caution-free to the end and Elliott never got closer than the 0.937-second final margin.

 

“Just needed to be a little better through the back half over there and get off of (Turn) 14 a little better just to have myself in a better spot getting into (Turn) 1,” Elliott said. “Just really appreciate the effort, man. Our (car) was really good, really good.

“Just needed just a little bit more and came up a bit short. But congrats to Michael, man. He did a good job. Ran a great race and stayed mistake-free, and that’s what you’ve got to do to win.”

Elliott said he felt the final pit stops were going to be critical to how the race played out.

“I lost too much ground under that pit cycle and was trying to pace myself for the long haul. It kind of had that green flag feel,” he said.

“I thought I did that, just needed to do a better job getting through (lapped) traffic there.”

Elliott, 27, has seven career wins on road courses but has yet to win one since the debut of the Next Gen car last year. In the three races he competed in this season – Sonoma, Chicago and Indy – he finished fifth, third and second.

Two of his road course wins have come at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, site of next Sunday’s race.

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