LAS VEGAS — Chase Elliott says he has let last week’s frustrations go and is focused on Sunday’s Round of 8 playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Elliott, who enters as the points leader, starts 20th. A win by any of the remaining playoff drivers in Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC) will move them to next month’s championship event at Phoenix.
Elliott was in position to win last weekend at the Charlotte Roval when the caution waved in the final laps for a sign that fell off the fencing and landed on the track. On the ensuring restart, Elliott was hit and spun. He finished 20th.
“I’ve been doing this long enough that you just learn to let it go,” Elliott said Saturday of last week’s finish. “That’s really just the best thing we can all do, let it go. Then you don’t have to write about it, and I can go on down the road and worry about next week, because once it happens there’s nothing you can do.”
Elliott also knows that having to wait a week for the next race after a frustrating finish is challenging.
“That’s one of the super difficult things about this sport is we don’t have practice on Monday afternoon to go get ready,” he said. “All you can do is prepare offline from a setup perspective and talk through things. It sucks because you have to wait six or seven days to go out there and try to fix it.
“When you have a bad day, I want to fix it now. I don’t want to wait six or seven days. I want to fix it today, right now. Unfortunately, that’s not the way this deal works.”
Elliott admits he was frustrated when he pushed a camera away from a conversation he was having with teammate William Byron on pit road road after the race.
A NASCAR spokesperson said series officials talked to Elliott’s team about the situation with the NBC Sports camera operator and told the team to discuss it with Elliott.
As Elliott talked to Byron on pit road after the race, Elliott turned to the camera and pushed it away. Elliott then shooed the camera operator away.
“I asked the guy to give us a little bit of space and he didn’t really,” Elliott said. “Frustration after a tough race, but, yes, to answer your question, probably not the right move for me to make.”
One move of Elliott’s that has been scrutinized in the last week is how he impeded Harvick late in last year’s playoff race at Bristol.
That has gained attention because of NASCAR’s penalty to Cole Custer this week for dramatically slowing on the final lap as teammate Chase Briscoe was racing for the final transfer spot to the Round of 8.
Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, cited data, in-car video and what was said on the team’s radio as leading to the penalty. Stewart-Haas Racing is appealing.
When asked about Elliott’s actions against Harvick last year, Miller said this week that the difference was that Elliott received no directives on the radio.
“That was a driver taking things into his own hands,” Miller said. “Sketchy? Yes, but premeditated to alter the results of the race? Don’t think so. Quite a different situation there.”
Asked Saturday if he is concerned how such situations might get officiated in the future, Elliott said: “There are so many rules in this deal … and there’s always more to be written, I suppose. My viewpoint on things is, and this is a really boring viewpoint, but this is not my sandbox.
“I am very grateful to have the job that I have. I’m very lucky to do what I do. I don’t write the rules. I don’t want to write the rule. It’s their playground. I’m happy to be here to play on it. I’m going to try to do my job, and then I’m going to go to the house. Then I’m going to try again next week and make sure I’m showing up for my team and doing the things that I need to do to be successful. Outside of that, I don’t care, I don’t what to know and it doesn’t matter.”