Don’t ask Chase Elliott about Martinsville

Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Chevrolet, (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott wasn’t going there.

If he’s hatching a revenge plot against Denny Hamlin in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), he’s keeping to himself.

“I am not going to answer your questions about whether I am going to get him back or not,” Elliott said on Friday morning before opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at TMS.

“Don’t even ask because you are not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there.”

But don’t think Elliott has put last Sunday’s wreck at Martinsville behind him. With four laps left in the First Data 500, Hamlin shoved Elliott, then the race leader, into the Turn 3 wall, simultaneously denying the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet a likely first career victory and a berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I am still pretty frustrated about it, and as long as the week has gone along, it has given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead,” Elliott said. “I think, if anything else, that will drive you up the wall more if you think about it.

“Definitely not happy about it and I don’t think a whole lot has changed.”

After the race, Hamlin apologized for wrecking Elliott but continues to maintain that crashing the leader was not his intent. Hamlin said Elliott has not responded to overtures to discuss the incident.

The wreck knocked Elliott back to 27th at the finish and left him eighth in the series standings, last among Playoff drivers and 26 points behind Kevin Harvick in fourth. After the Nov. 12 event at Phoenix International Raceway, the Playoff field will be cut from eight drivers to four.

Elliott realizes where his focus needs to lie for the next two weeks.

“You can’t let the situation and the things that went on (at Martinsville) consume you,” Elliott said. “If you do, you’re going to lose sight of what really matters. What really matters is us trying to win one of these next two weeks and go race for a championship, as we were so close to doing last weekend.

“Close doesn’t cut it in any form of racing. I’ve kind of learned that the hard way over some circumstances that either I’ve put on myself, or things just haven’t worked out.”

Interestingly, Elliott and Hamlin are the only two remaining drivers in the Playoff who have never had a DNF (did not finish) at either Texas or Phoenix.

Of course, that could change on Sunday if Elliott really does have revenge on his mind – and wisely isn’t saying so.

Elliott didn’t have a good start to his weekend.  In qualifying he and six others never made it out of inspection in time to take a lap; Elliott will start 34th Sunday.

“We’ll just have to play it by ear and see what happens,” Elliott said.

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