Chase Elliott suffered an unfortunate end to his road course winning streak of four races in the NASCAR Cup Series after a late-race wreck ended his hopes for a win on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Cup field saw a surprise winner for the second week in a row as Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell won his first Cup race.
Elliott led 44 of the 70 laps run at the Daytona Road Course and looked like a comfortable winner at one point in the race. However, he fell back after issues towards the end. Elliott lost his balance and went off the track and into the grass.
Then, as he tried to pass Brad Keselowski with just six laps to go, he spun and fell outside the top-20. The reigning NASCAR champion rued the chaos at the end and was frustrated by his own mistakes as well.
“When you have those late-race cautions like that, and you have a mixed bag of who stays and who goes, it’s a bit of a gamble anyway,” Elliott said after the race.
“Hate it. Too many mistakes, went off track. Bad deal. Had a fast NAPA Chevy, I appreciate the effort,” he added.
He pitted for tires late in the race, which he feels was the right move. The 25-year-old felt that it got too chaotic as he drove back into traffic and it just wasn’t ideal.
Elliott started off in style and was on a man on a mission. The start of the race itself was quite eventful, with Daytona 500 champion Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch suffering from issues on Lap 1 itself.
Busch’s car had damage as he went into the grass, while McDowell missed a turn and hit the dirt at the side of the track as well. Through all this, Elliott was unfazed, and he kept his lead.
Within just seven laps, he held an almost three-second lead over second-place Denny Hamlin. After 10 laps, he stretched the lead to almost five seconds. His teammate Kyle Larson rushed into the top-five as well in the first stage.
Martin Truex Jr, Elliott’s biggest competitor on road courses, soon made it into the top-five in Stage 1, after starting in 19th place.
Elliott stayed ahead of the rest of the field in the second stage as well. However, Truex Jr. slowly found his way to the front, and many thought an interesting battle between Elliott and Truex was on the cards.
The drivers soon pitted, and many opted for fresher tires while some, including one of the top drivers in AJ Allmendinger, stayed out. Hamlin made the most of the fresh tires, found his way to the front, and won Stage 2.
Truex Jr had issues with his car and felt he made a mistake just towards the end of the stage. Elliott finished the stage in sixth place.
Chase Elliott re-started in fifth place and soon passed Hamlin for P4 in the final stage. Very soon, he was back in the lead, and with around 25 laps to go, Elliott extended his lead comfortably to over one second.
The drama was yet to unfold, though. Elliott looked like the favorite to the checkered flag, but a determined Christopher Bell stayed close, and so did Logano.
Later, with just six laps to go, Elliott suffered the wreck, helping Bell and Logano battle for the lead, which Bell eventually snatched on the last lap.
The loss ended Chase Elliott’s bid to catch Jeff Gordon’s record of six straight road course wins.