Elliott Winds up out of Title Picture with Runner-up Finish

by Tucker White On Mon, Nov. 13, 2017

AVONDALE, Ariz. - NOVEMBER 12: Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 Hooters Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12, 2017 in Avondale, Arizona. Photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Chase Elliott posted a solid afternoon in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway and knocked Denny Hamlin out of contention for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, but got passed in the closing laps and failed to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 title race next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Starting the afternoon from fourth, Elliott took the lead on Lap 13 when he passed pole-sitter Ryan Blaney in the dogleg.

He got loose in Turn 3 on Lap 26, which allowed Hamlin to pass him exiting Turn 4 and take the lead. Entering Turn 1 moments later, Elliott put the chrome bumper to Hamlin and took back the lead, only to lose it again the following lap when Hamlin powered by him on the outside exiting Turn 2.

Elliott ended the first stage with a third-place finish.

The second stage for him was uneventful, as he finished ninth.

With 44 laps to go, Elliott and Hamlin were making contact with each other. Elliott tapped Hamlin in Turn 3 to pass him. Then they made contact past the exit of Turn 4, with Hamlin scrapping the outside wall and slamming the Turn 3 wall six laps later.

Since the skirmish came two weeks after their highly publicized run-in at Martinsville Speedway, Elliott was asked if the run-in in this race stemmed from that.

“A wise man once told me that he’ll race guys how they race him with a smile on his face, so that’s what I did today,” he said. “I raced him how he raced me, and that’s the way I saw it. That’s about all I have to say.”

With 28 to go, Elliott short-cut the dogleg and passed Matt Kenseth entering Turn 3 to retake the lead. Unfortunately for Elliott, Kenseth ran him down, powered around his outside through Turn 3 with nine to go and took the checkered flag.

“Yeah, our car was really good on the short run after those cautions and the rubber got picked up. As I went, I just got tighter and tighter and couldn’t keep it turning and couldn’t roll the middle like I needed to. I felt like I might have had enough to keep him back there if I hit all my marks and got really tight off (Turn) 2 and made it one lap and basically gave away all my gap and once he got there it was obviously hard to hold him off.”

Elliott finished runner-up for the seventh-time, losing out on the final Playoff spot to Brad Keselowski.

“Man, it’s such a bummer to be so freaking close again. Had a shot to go race for a championship next week, so we fought as hard as we could today. I told my guys a minute ago, at some point we will figure out how to close or I will figure out how to close and we can have some great opportunities down the road, I hope.”

Elliott leaves Phoenix fifth in points.

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