NASCAR’s most popular driver has dug himself quite a deep hole.
Chase Elliott’s troubles started Saturday when he blew an engine shortly into the first practice. He qualified second later but had to start Sunday’s Martinsville race in the back of the field. He methodically worked his way forward earning three stage points in Stage 1 by finishing eighth and clawing his way into the top five when disaster struck.
After a four-tire stop during the Stage 2 caution, Elliott’s Chevy didn’t take off just right, and the Hendrick Motorsports driver immediately brought the back down pit road.
The team further diagnosed the issue as the race went green, dropping Elliott from a potential top-five position to 37th and more than 10 laps down. The team eventually took the car to the garage in an attempt to repair it. He returned to the track on Lap 236, 52 laps down and in last place.
Normally a man of few words, he had even less after the race. He did make up two spots thanks to a late race crash that put Jimmie Johnson and Aric Almirola out of the race. He still finished 36th 55 laps down.
“Yeah, whatever that is worth,” Elliott said. “Frustrating.”
“Just disappointing for a day like that,” he added. “We know better and we can do better than that.”
Elliott is well aware of what he has to do in the last two races starting with Texas next Sunday.
“I’m going to go win it,” Elliott said.