DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chase Elliott had high expectations for Sunday’s Daytona 500, and he was showing why for the first two stages of racing.
But on Lap 102, with Elliott right on the leader’s tail in second place, a push from behind sent the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into the wall, causing a multiple-car incident and damage that ultimately ended Elliott’s day.
“Tough circumstances – was just trying to feel (then-leader Ryan) Blaney out, kind of see what he was going to do, how aggressive he wanted to be,” Elliott explained. “I had a big push and just got light at the wrong time. Didn’t make the right move.”
He was the second Hendrick Motorsports teammate to have his Daytona 500 end prematurely after a multiple-car incident also ended Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team’s day.
Prior to the incident, Elliott was racing toward the front for much of the afternoon.
After starting fourth, he continued to run inside the top 10 in the early stages of the race, but was stuck in the outside lane and was shuffled back outside of the top 20 on Lap 19.
He recovered to take the race lead on Lap 45, battling between first and second for the remainder of Stage 1 until he was caught in the middle during three-wide racing and again shuffled back in the pack. Still, he finished Stage 1 eighth.
In Stage 2, Elliott maintained a top-10 position, and on Lap 101 he raced all the way up to second.
One lap later, he was using his momentum to see what it would take to pass the leader when the incident occurred.
“A big push at the wrong time, I guess,” he said. “It happens, and we will just move on down the road and try to get ’em in Atlanta.”
He noted that the racing has been aggressive throughout Sunday’s Daytona 500, and he was looking forward to how the final laps might play out with the No. 9 Chevy in the thick of things.
"Had such a fast NAPA Camaro ZL1 and just wanted a shot there at the end,” he said. “I hate that we didn’t have that opportunity.”