By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – For the second week in a row Chase Elliott has come one spot shy of scoring his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Elliott was never far from the lead throughout the Bank of America 500.
Elliott was consistently one of the best cars, in the No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet SS, during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He battled with the likes of Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and eventual race winner Martin Truex, Jr. while never falling lower than fifth on the running order. Evidence of Elliott’s speed can be seen in his stage finishes. In both stages, he finished second to Harvick.
Restarts proved to be where Elliott struggled, not because of his own doing, but rather those in front of him. Whether it was Matt Kenseth, Hamlin, or Harvick, several drivers struggled to make speed on the restart. However, where Elliott proved to be better than his competitors was his ability to stay out of trouble. Several Playoff drivers including Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson found trouble over the course of the 500-mile race.
Elliott admitted that the main issue he fought was track position,
“We needed to be a little better I think in the middle stage and not lose so much track position. That was where Martin (Truex, Jr.) came on and got his track position and we lost ours and it was just hard to get all of it back there toward the end. It was a hard-fought day and really, from where we were in those middle stages, I was proud of the way we fought back and were able to get back to the front. It’s frustrating to run like this. We’re definitely tired of running second. But, if we keep running like we are, hopefully the opportunities will be there.”
Although Elliott was up front, Truex simply drove away from most of his competition. Elliott at times was third on track, but several seconds behind Truex.
This was Elliott’s ninth top-five and 17th top-10 finish of the 2017 season. The second-place finish moves him from 10th, four points out, to fourth in the Playoff Standings. Elliott’s cushion over the cutoff for the Round of Eight is just 16-points. This was also his sixth runner-up finish. Elliott, who is currently winless, is inching closer to the mark that his Hall of Fame father, Bill Elliott, made, earning eight runner-up finishes before his first career victory.
Now Elliott and his Hendrick Motorsports team will have to try to avoid the mayhem at the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway.