HAMPTON, Ga. – Chase Elliott had seen that movie before.
Having qualified for the playoff as a Sunoco rookie last year, Elliott was leading the first postseason race at Chicagoland Speedway when Michael McDowell’s spin in Turn 4 brought out the fourth and final caution on lap 263 of a scheduled 267.
Elliott lost the lead on pit road and lost the race in overtime to Martin Truex Jr.
In last Sunday’s Daytona 500, it was a dry fuel cell, not an inopportune caution that cost Elliott a chance to win NASCAR’s most prestigious race. Elliott, the pole winner for the second straight year, led 23 consecutive circuits before his car sputtered and ran out of gas on Lap 198 of 200.
Kurt Busch took the checkered flag, while Elliott suffered another disappointing close call that left him still in search of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory.
“Yeah, I mean had such a great car down there and a great start to the week, a great Thursday night (that brought a win in the Can-Am Duel), and I felt like for us, absolutely, sure very disappointing,” Elliott said on Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “That was a devastating way to end a good week, for sure.
“There are two things, I think, to look at when you think about Daytona for us. A, we had to play the cards we were dealt. I felt like we planned to the best of our ability. I think that’s something to be proud of. B, we ran out of gas. Yes, we were leading, and it’s easy to say ‘Ah, it was ours to lose.’ In reality, there were still three laps to go and three laps at Daytona is a long time.
“So, I think for us to sit back and think that we had it locked down is kind of foolish. For us, it’s disappointing for sure, but there are some positives to take from the day and again, we were faced with circumstances that we really couldn’t control, and I felt like we played what we had the best we could. Some days that’s all you can do.”
Elliott may be winless in his 42 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, but he can take solace from his father, Bill Elliott, who needed 116 starts to get his first victory and went on to fashion a NASCAR Hall of Fame career.
“Yeah, he’s brought that up a couple of times,” Elliott said. “He has mentioned that. It’s one of those things where it’s crazy. Obviously, that was back in the ‘80’s and things were a lot different, but it kind of just goes to show you if it’s not your day, it’s not your day.”