Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Gut Wrenching Martinsville Weekend for Elliott

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Martinsville Speedway was certainly a track Chase Elliott would like to steer clear after a disastrous First Data 500 weekend, capping off with a 36th place finish during Sunday’s race.

After a blown engine which saw Elliott’s No. 9 Mountain Dew Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 engulfed into flames Saturday morning, he had to give up his starting slot because he went to the backup car.

Elliott would qualify second but before the green flag dropped in Virginia, he had to work his way from the rear of the field.

Easy task it was as he got by his competitors a step at a time. Once the final laps of Stage 1 took place, the season’s three-time winner cracked the top-10 and ended up with three stage points after crossing the line in eighth.

All was good until the 183rd lap when everything went completely downhill. A broken axle is what did him in and brought his car to the pits, reporting that his car wasn’t moving to his liking.

That’s when the Hendrick Motorsports team noticed the problem and had no choice but put Elliott behind the wall. This costly mulligan wasn’t recoverable, even if he returned to the track 52 laps behind race leader Martin Truex, Jr.

Elliott came out in 38th and only gained two spots after both Aric Almirola and Elliott’s teammate Jimmie Johnson crashed out.

Truex went on to punch his ticket to Homestead, while Elliott lost three more laps and is currently eighth in points.

With 44 markers out of the cutoff line and just Texas and Phoenix remaining, Elliott had little to say about his frustrating weekend at Martinsville.

“Yeah, whatever that is worth. Frustrating,” Elliott said. “Just disappointing for a day like that. We know better and we can do better than that.”

Quite simply, it’s all about winning for Elliott if he has a shot of making his first-ever Championship 4 appearance.

“I’m going to go win it,” Elliott said. “That is certainly the case now. We do have to win.”

Heading into the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Elliott would have to run better than his 13th place run (his worst finish in seven starts) in the spring race. In his other six races at “The Lone Star State,” Elliott has five top-fives with a fourth in November 2016 being his personal best.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography ranging from Idaho athletics to auto racing with ambitions of having his work recognized.