The No. 24 driver held the lead at the Southern Virginia short track with three laps to go and looked well on his way to his first career win and a berth in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Then, Denny Hamlin drilled Elliott’s back bumper, sent him crashing into the wall, and ended his day.
“We had a great car today and we had an opportunity,” said Elliott after furiously confronting Hamlin following the race. “We had a good restart there at the end and felt like I was doing what I needed to do. And I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was. We’re on to Texas.”
On to Texas Motor Speedway Elliott will go for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 – the penultimate race of the Round of 8. As a result of the Martinsville wreck, Elliott dropped to eighth on the Playoff Grid, 26 points below Kevin Harvick on the cutoff line. He essentially has to win one of the next two races – at Texas or Phoenix – to compete for the championship at Homestead.
In three starts at Texas, Elliott has finished fifth (spring 2016), fourth (fall 2016) and ninth (spring 2017). His 9.6 average running position at the 1.5-mile track ranks second among active drivers.
Elliott has finished fourth or better in the last four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at 1.5-mile tracks: third at Kentucky, second at Chicago, second at Charlotte and fourth at Kansas.
“Looking forward to getting back to Texas – it’s a fun place to go,” Elliott said. “I enjoy going there and after the good runs we had there last season, I’m definitely looking forward to returning. In the spring we had a pretty good car, our teammate won, so good things to look back to for that race when we go back.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!