Chase Elliott’s rousing rallies come up just short in runner-up day at Watkins Glen
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images Chase Elliott made a pair of major comebacks Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International but didn’t have quite enough oomph to unseat teammate Kyle Larson and continue his winning ways on NASCAR Cup Series road courses. RELATED: Race results | At-track photos Elliott’s bid for a third consecutive Cup…
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images
Chase Elliott made a pair of major comebacks Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International but didn’t have quite enough oomph to unseat teammate Kyle Larson and continue his winning ways on NASCAR Cup Series road courses.
RELATED: Race results | At-track photos
Elliott’s bid for a third consecutive Cup Series victory at the 2.45-mile layout ended in second place despite his charge up through the field as the laps clicked down in the Go Bowling at The Glen. The outcome marked his fourth straight road-course finish among the top two, but he failed to lead a lap on a road course for the first time since 2018 (at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval).
“Yeah, I made too many mistakes to get the win, unfortunately, and made it too late in the race,” Elliott said. “Super proud of our team. Been kind of an uphill battle all day, but everybody was just super prepared coming into the day, and our NAPA team just did a really good job of fighting it.”
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The dejection was evident in his post-race exchange with his crew on the cool-down lap.
“Great drive, bud,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt told Elliott. “A long way to go there, but you did a great job.”
Said Elliott: “I’m so sorry, guys. (expletive). That was my bad. Y’all deserved that one.”
The uphill climb that Elliott referenced started even before the green flag. Elliott started at the rear of the field after officials discovered a technical infraction on his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in pre-race inspection. That also meant the ejection of crew chief Alan Gustafson, with Tom Gray — the team’s lead engineer — taking the helm as an 11th-hour sub.
Elliott rallied into the top 10 by the end of the first stage, but then a brake lock-up midway through Stage 2 forced him into an out-of-sequence pit stop, knocking him further down the running order.
Elliott closed the gap on the front-runners down the stretch, getting by Martin Truex Jr. for second place with nine laps to go and applying some pressure to Larson as the pair navigated lap-down traffic in the race to the checkers.
“If I hadn’t have let them down there, I think we would have had a shot at it, but congrats to Kyle, Cliff (Daniels, crew chief), all the guys on the 5 (team),” Elliott said. “Happy for everybody at HMS. Hendrick Motorsports has been working extremely hard, and not only do the people deserve to win, but Mr. Hendrick deserves to win. Really happy for him, and I’ll try to clean some things up and make less mistakes next time. Maybe it’ll work out.”