Elliott was upset after the race but didn’t publicly criticize Larson, who moved Elliott up the track on the final restart to claim the lead and take the win. Elliott talked to car owner Rick Hendrick and team executive Jeff Gordon on pit road after the race.
Lip readers suggested that Elliott told Hendrick and Gordon that the matter couldn’t be fixed. Elliott addressed that Wednesday during a break in testing at Martinsville Speedway.
“I would just say that there’s nothing to be fixed,” Elliott said. “Really at the end of the day, when you look at the reality of the situation … we finished fourth and we weren’t good enough to win. That’s really what it comes down, just need to be faster, need to do a better job finishing off the races. For me, I don’t see where there’s anything that needs to be fixed.”
Larson said Monday during a break in testing at Martinsville that he should have raced Elliott with “more respect” at the end of the race.
Elliott said: “That’s his opinion and, look, he’s entitled to that. For me, I’m a pretty realistic person as it pertains to what is and what isn’t. Reality is we finished fourth on Sunday and need to be better, need to be faster, needed to have a better restart there at the end of the race to get the job done.
“That’s really what it comes down to. For us, that’s where my focus is and what I want to do better. I’m excited about these next 11 weeks and the opportunity that lies ahead for us as a team.
“I feel like our group is special. I’ve told you guys that for years. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re performing at our best when it matters. The mattering time is approaching.”
#NASCAR … I asked Chase Elliott about lip readers who suggested he told Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon on pit road at Watkins Glen that things couldn’t be fixed in regards to the incident with Kyle Larson. This is what Chase said … pic.twitter.com/eLSVjl3AHb
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) August 24, 2022
It could be quite a time for Hendrick Motorsports. With all four cars in the playoffs for the second consecutive year, there’s the potential that teammates could be racing for wins, to advance to the next round or even a championship.
So how are teammates supposed to race each other at Hendrick Motorsports?
“I think that’s a tough one,” Elliott said. “It’s kind of above me, I feel like. I’m not really the one to make those kind of calls. The boss spends a lot of money doing this stuff, and I think we probably should respect however he wants us to approach that, whatever that answer would be. … If all four of us make it to Phoenix, that would be a great problem to have and one any organization would be happy to be in.”
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) August 23, 2022
Teammate William Byron, who also was testing at Martinsville on Tuesday, admits how to race a teammate can be “tricky.”
“You’ve got to always do what’s best for your race team because those guys are working day and night on your race cars and trying to make them go faster,” Byron said. “It’s always kind of balancing what’s best for your team.
“It’s kind of the two things — balancing what is best for your team and balancing what’s best for HMS or Chevrolet. It’s tricky but you’ve got to navigate it. The first priority is doing what’s best for the 24 team and trying to get them wins.”
Byron also says that Hendrick has made it clear for the drivers how to race one another.
“Mr. (Hendrick) has been really good about setting those parameters well in advance,” Byron said. “We all know what those are. I feel like I get along really well with all three of my teammates. We work really well together.
“We’ve all had times that we’ve had run-ins, and we’ve all worked it out. It’s just having a general respect level for my other teammates. Kyle, Chase, Alex (Bowman), we’ve all raced really well together so I don’t see that changing.”