FORT WORTH, Texas — Chase Elliott admits he is “still pretty frustrated” about Denny Hamlin wrecking him for the lead in the final laps at Martinsville, but says he and his team can’t be consumed by it this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
After seeing his chance to win end against the wall at Martinsville, Elliott’s 27th-place finish leaves him last among the eight playoff drivers heading into Sunday’s race.
“As far as last week goes, I don’t know that my thoughts are a whole lot different today than they were then,’’ Elliott said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’m still pretty frustrated about it. Really, as the week has gone along, it’s given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead. I think with anything else, that will drive you up the wall more as you think about it. Definitely not happy about it. I don’t think a whole lot has changed.
“No, I’m not going to answer you all’s questions whether I’m going to get him back or not, so don’t even ask because you’re not going to hear it from me. Just don’t go there. I don’t think my mindset has changed a whole lot from that standpoint. This is a point in this round where we’re going to have to perform these next two weeks to have a chance now at Homestead.’’
Hamlin stated after the race it was not his intent to wreck Elliott and apologized on social media shortly after the race. Hamlin said this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he has offered to have a conversation with Elliott but that had not been answered.
With two races left to determine the four drivers to race for the championship in two weeks in Miami, Elliott says he doesn’t have time to worry about Hamlin.
“I’m not overwhelming myself with him or any other driver in particular as the weekend goes along,’’ Elliott said. “I don’t think you can do that and look yourself in the eyes and think you have a fair shot if you have that mindset coming into a weekend.
“We’re going to go about our business as we always do and hope we make the right guesses and I make the right judgement calls and (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and the team makes the right calls throughout the weekend to have a chance to win.’’
About the fan reaction last weekend at Martinsville where the crowd booed Hamlin and cheered Elliott loudly, Elliott said: “I wasn’t expecting to have that or hear that or see it throughout the week. I don’t know if refreshing is the right word, but it’s been pretty encouraging to see that kind of support regardless of the circumstance. To see people encouraging you and wanting you to go and try to win this weekend. To me, that’s been kind of the message from a lot of fans, hey, the best thing you can do for the fans that supported you is to try to go and win one of these next two weekends and give yourself a shot at Homestead. I’m looking forward to giving that my best shot.’’