For about 40 laps in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 the talk of Chase Elliott getting his first Sprint Cup win once again intensified.
Then it – and possibly his championship hopes – disappeared in the smoke from a fender rub.
Elliott had chased down Kevin Harvick for about 30 laps when he caught the No. 4 and passed him for the lead on Lap 169.
Elliott led four laps and then gave it up as green flag pit stops began. But immediately after his pit stop, smoke began pouring from the left rear of his car as sheet metal rubbed against a tire. Elliott was forced to pit on Lap 175.
The No. 24 never returned to the top 20 and was plagued by multiple brushes with the wall the rest of the afternoon. Elliott finished 31st, three laps down.
As to the cause of initial tire rub, Elliott said: “We really don’t know. I don’t know if we got the left rear getting up on the race track, or something and it got into the fender and cut it down. I don’t know what to do man, we were trying as hard as we can. We had such a good car today again.”
Combined with his DNF last week at Charlotte, Elliott is last on the Chase grid among the 12 remaining drivers and 25 points out of eighth, the final transfer spot.
“I don’t know what to do,” Elliott said. “Just keep after it and try to move on.”
Moving on means going to Talladega Superspeedway, site of the last race of the second round.
“I just will go there, and race our hearts out and try to win, I guess,” said Elliott, who won the pole at Talladega in the spring and led 27 laps before finishing fifth. “That’s about all we can do, I guess. We have something to be proud of in the way we have been running. There are just some things we can’t control. I don’t know how to fix that stuff.”