Things could have turned out very differently for Chase Elliott in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Elliott led the number of laps in the race at Martinsville, but it would have so easily all been for naught. His jackman had come on pit road way too early, and Elliott could have been penalized for the same.
However, following replays that were watched closely, NASCAR decided the crew member had re-established his position in time. Visuals did suggest that the jackman showed some quick thinking and got back immediately to the pit wall.
Elliott then went on to win that race and sealed his place in the Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway. However, this incident strived to show that such trivial things could quite easily cost drivers wins and track positions.
Coming into the race, the objective for the Hendrick Motorsports No.9 was quite clear from the off. Winning the 2020 Xfinity 500 would guarantee him a place in the race that allowed him to have a genuine shot at the championship title.
Starting from a great track position up front, Elliott even built a decent lead over his rivals. Following the pit crew incident, the authorities initially slapped him with a penalty for it. This would have obviously been one of the worst ways to crash out of championship contention.
Replays however then showed that Elliott’s jackman T J Semke stepped back into the pit wall with both feet. As a result, NASCAR gave him the benefit of the doubt and rescinded the penalty.
This move was as important as the Dawsonville native taking part in the race at Phoenix Raceway alongside Logano, Keselowski, and Hamlin. In the final race too, Elliott had received a separate penalty which forced him to start from the back of the grid.
Driving his way through the traffic, he ensured that he got back the lead from Logano, and eventually won the race to lift the Cup Series title. Regardless, a throwback to this moment is important because it only went to show how small things can monumentally decide championship wins.