Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Heartbreak in Daytona For Chase Elliott, Car Stumbles While Leading

By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor

Following in the footsteps of a legendary father in motorsports is good in one aspect, as it usually opens doors for you that most drivers won’t have an opportunity to open. However the downfall of carrying on a legacy is having lofty expectations from a fan base that want you to be as good as your father. Chase Elliott’s father — Bill — was one of the greatest to ever drive around Daytona International Speedway. The elder Elliott won the Daytona 500 twice (1985 and ’87) over a hall of fame Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

A year ago, Chase shocked the world by winning the pole for The Great American Race as a rookie. However, Elliott would lead just three laps and was a non-factor for the race win. On lap 160, he lost control of his car off of turn four end destroyed his car en route to a 37th-place finish.

Fast forward to 2017, and for 99-percent of Speedweeks it appeared that 21-year-old Chase was going to avenge his disappointment from a year ago.

Elliott secured the pole for the Daytona 500 by running a lap two one-thousandths of a second faster than his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Coors Light Pole Qualifying last Sunday. Elliott would follow that up by dominating and winning his Can-Am Duel race on Thursday.

In one of the most hectic Daytona 500s in history (more than 35 of the 40 cars in the event were involved in accidents throughout the day), Elliott managed to avoid the majority of the calamity and by doing so he was able to get himself in a position in the closing laps of the race to control his own destiny — or so it would seem.

After leading 39 laps on the day, Elliott, who was in the middle of holding off Martin Truex Jr., and a pack of 11 other hungry drivers, had his motor gasp for fuel with three laps remaining in the race. Elliott would radio to his team, “It’s running out of gas.” He would then pull out of line in an effort to not crash the field behind him.

Moments later his car regained power.

The damage was already done though, as Elliott was now on the low side of the race track by himself dropping like a brick through the field. As he crossed the finish line, Elliott would be credited with the 14th position. Sure it is better than his finish in this race from his rookie year, but this one had to hurt even more. The calm, cool and collected Elliott kept his head held high after the disappointing finish.

“It was a disappointing finish to a good day. Just one of those things you can’t do anything about,” said Elliott in a Team Chevy release. “I’m happy with how the NAPA team performed, and we are going to learn from it. I’m proud of how hard everyone worked all week. We’re looking forward to getting back at it in Atlanta.”

Had it not been for a burp in the fuel tank, who knows what could have been. Elliott will now look to get his first career Cup Series win at his hometown track — Atlanta Motor Speedway — next week.

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Toby Christie is a contributing writer for Motorsports Tribune. He has been watching stock cars turn left since 1993, and has covered NASCAR as an accredited media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, sub-par guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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