When it comes to scoring his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, Chase Elliott seems to be snake-bitten.
Time after time over the last two seasons, Elliott has been in position to make his maiden voyage to victory lane only to fall short when the checkered flag flew and that story played out once again in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 at Dover after finishing second to Kyle Busch.
“I’m just so disappointed in myself,” said Elliott. “Golly, I couldn’t have had it any easier. It ran green from the stage break all the way to the end. And, I gave it away. I appreciate my team and their efforts today. The pit stops were great and they kept us in the ballgame. I didn’t.”
At one of his best tracks on the circuit, Elliott came into the day with an average finish of 3.7 in his three previous starts and once again Elliott and his No. 24 team were fast on the high-banked concrete oval. Elliott started the day in 12th place and moved his way up to the lead for the first time on lap 83 as green flag pit stops cycled through. He would finish the first stage in seventh place.
Elliott moved up to third by the end of the second stage, but it was the final stage where Elliott shined the most.
Taking over the race lead at the start of the final stage, Elliott showed just how strong his Chevrolet was by leading the next 78 laps before the final round of green flag pit stops began. Elliott held a lead of more than four seconds before pit stops and cycled right back to that same gap when he reassumed the lead at lap 340.
As the laps wound down, Elliott began to catch lapped traffic, allowing second-place Kyle Busch to close the gap each passing lap and put him right in Elliott’s rear-view mirror with the checkered flag in sight.
One of the toughest cars to pass on the track, Ryan Newman, was the last car on the lead lap and held up Elliott just enough to allow Busch to pull alongside of him and eventually clear him down the backstretch with two laps to go.
Though Elliott tried his best to try and get back by Busch, he was unable to and had to settle for second place for the fifth time in his career after leading 138 laps on the day.
“You look back and obviously would do something different, I guess. But, I didn’t,” Elliott added.