The race at Dover International Speedway at the weekend had vibes of “the good old days” with its many lead changes, strategies, and superb battles for precious playoff places.
One thing that the race reiterated was not to count your chickens too soon, because anything can happen and things can change in a split second. Staying true to that, Chase Elliott looked like he had his first ever Cup Series Victory in the bag. That was, until lap traffic slowed him down enough to allow Kyle Busch to catch up and overtake.
Some say that it was just bad luck. Chase Elliott and many other NASCAR fans have a different idea – he just “gave it away.”
Elliott looked to be extremely strong after Kyle Larson sunk like a stone due to having to reset his electronic control unit. Elliott inherited the lead following the incident and led for 78 laps. He then then went on to lead again on lap 340 and even build up an astonishing 4.5 second lead ahead of Kyle Busch.
Fans were on the edge of their seats, praying that this would be the week where son of NASCAR racing legend – Bill Elliott – would finally score his first Cup Series win.
It wasn’t meant to be though, as Elliott hit lap traffic and it slowed him down substantially.
“It was all just lap traffic ahead and I fought it.
If I had a clean track, I could have run as fast as he did but I didn’t and I should have done something different.
So, that’s just on me. He did a better job than I did and at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.” – Chase Elliot
Like a shark who’d smelt a single drop of blood – Kyle Busch leapt at the opportunity to reel Elliott in like a little fish and consume him whole, with just two laps and two miles left in the 400-mile race.
Speaking afterwards, you could see and hear just how truly devastated the 21-year-old Chevrolet Driver for Hendrick Motorsports really was:
“I’m just so disappointed in myself. Golly, I couldn’t have had it any easier.
It ran green from the stage break all the way to the end. And, I gave it away.
I appreciate my team and their efforts today. The pit stops were great and they kept us in the ballgame. I didn’t.” – Chase Elliot
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 1, 2017
Even Jimmie Johnson tried to console the young driver, but it was no good, as Elliott commented:
“I appreciate his friendship and him willing to come over and talk to me.
It shows the kind of person he is but it doesn’t fix my lack of performance this afternoon.” – Chase Elliot
Clearly, the pressure was insurmountable for Elliott, who has big racing shoes to fill after the success of his father and having inherited Jeff Gordon’s number 24 car. There’s no denying that Elliott still has a long way to go and a lot of experience to gain. However, he did put on a great show and now that he has this bit between his teeth, we will undoubtedly get to see him use this experience to his advantage in future weeks.
Chase Elliott fans may feel hard done following the result of the Dover race – especially as he fell victim to the “Monster Mile.” Yet there’s plenty of time yet for this little fish to make his way in the big sea of NASCAR racing.
Arguably, he did snuff it towards the end there by making little attempt to block Kyle Busch who was running on the high line. But once his shattered ego has mended, Chase Elliott will likely dazzle us with a renewed sense of grit and determination – and boy will he show us what he’s got.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 1, 2017
For now though, Dover wasn’t his time to be the driver who celebrated on Victory Lane, but he did come agonizingly close – and that’s definitely progress.