By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Hendrick Motorsports’ woes continued in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 Presented By Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after Chase Elliott was collected in a two-car crash on Lap 183.
Entering Turn 4, Kurt Busch’s No. 41 Haas Automation Ford stepped out and darted right into Elliott, resulting in both cars slamming into the wall and ending their afternoons with disappointing results.
Elliott, who finished 34th, said he was an innocent victim and wasn’t able to avoid Busch.
“I think he just got loose in the bottom there and I was, unfortunately, the guy that was up top,” Elliott said. “So, we were just trying to be solid today and make the most of what our NAPA Camaro had, and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of that; kind of like what we did last week in trying to get a little bit better. I was just kind of there at the wrong spot and the wrong situation and I’m headed home early.”
A frustrated Busch said running on dirty air negatively affected his car and contributed to his race exit.
“I was running the low groove and it just stepped out on me. I wasn’t even trying to fill the hole or go 100%. I had it at 90% and I knew Chase was going to be on my outside and it was just that quick,” Busch said. “We were back there in the dirty air, but turn four, I always know it is slick and I wasn’t even pushing through there and it stepped out on me. Ruined his day, ruined my day.”
Denied a chance of winning at his home track, Busch apologized for the incident.
“I hate it for all the Chase Elliott fans and the Kurt Busch fans and my hometown fans. I wasn’t even pushing hard,” Busch added. “I knew we had one more stop and then we were going to go. It just stepped out on me. It is ridiculous.”
Busch is credited with a 35th place finish and now sits 13th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
The accident marked both driver’s second DNF (Did Not Finish) in three races, putting them further behind in points.
Elliott added his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet was starting to run well with the leaders before the accident.
“It was unfortunate. I thought we were getting a little bit of momentum. We had a really good pit stop there and gained a bunch of spots on pit road, got ourselves inside the top five and could run with them for a few laps. So, just trying to make the most of what we had and there was no guarantee how it was going to end up and ended up poorly. We will move on down the road.”
Elliott’s exit knocked him from 19th to 21st in points after being inside the top-10 standings all of last season.