DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – Chase Elliott’s excellent Daytona 500 adventure was over barely 50 miles into Sunday’s Sprint Cup season’s opening race.
Dawsonville’s Elliott, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, lost control of his car, veered down into the entrance of pit row and came to rest, in a shower of sod, on the front-stretch grass.
A week in which the 20-year-old driver was celebrated as the youngest ever to win the Daytona 500 pole, and won the Xfinity warm-up event Saturday, ended most ingloriously, as he was the first driver out. His crew was working to try to repair the No. 24 car enough to get it back on the track in the hopes that the Sprint Cup rookie could turn some additional laps.
Starting from the pole, Elliott led the first three laps before being passed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was running in the middle of a three-wide pack when trouble struck.
So, what happened?
“I’m not sure,” Elliott said. “I just got turned around there off of (turn) four. Got in the middle and got loose. Lost it and spun out. I hate it for everybody at less than 20 laps in and have something dumb like that happen. I apologize to my guys.”
He then immediately turned his attention to next week’s race at his home track, the Folds of Honor/QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I hate it, it’s such a fun race; you hate to end the race before it even got started,” he said. “I’m disappointed for everybody. We’ll just have to look past it for Atlanta, that’s the most important thing.”
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC