Chase Elliott says he will be back stronger next year

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 07: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, and and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 07, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The defending NASCAR Cup champion came up a little short in his quest for a second consecutive title.

Elliott led the second most laps on the day at Phoenix Sunday swapping the first two spots with eventual race winner, and new champion Kyle Larson.

At one point, Elliott may have inadvertently helped Larson win. The two cars made contact at one point flaring out the rear fender on Larson’s Chevy.

“I kind of thought I had a run a little bit and I didn’t think there was quite enough room, and I thought he was going to come to the wall,” Elliott said. “So I was like, well, I’ll try to go to the bottom really fast, and then he ended up like not moving, and then I came down. It was just a really weird set of circumstances, ended up hitting him in the right rear and it flared the thing out.”

That flare may have contributed to Larson gaining just enough speed in the closing laps to win it all.

In the end however, Elliott faded in the final 10 laps and had to settle for fifth.

“I thought we brought a really good car and did a lot of things that we were wanting it to do today, just didn’t work out,” he said. “And the sequence of the way all that went certainly was unfortunate for us.

“But look, proud of our team, a lot to build on, and also congrats to Kyle and Cliff. What an amazing season. Very, very deserving champions, and glad to see Kyle have success.

“When you’re a good driver and a good person and you surround yourself with good people, success is warranted. It’s good to see that. But we’ll be back stronger next year and try to give them a run.”