Chase Elliott had nothing left after 312 laps at Phoenix International Raceway.
“Our car was really, really fast on those short runs after the rubber got picked up and we had struggled to be super tight on the long haul and kept taking off really good and was able to kind of work our way forward. I gave everything I had to try to get a big enough gap so that I could try to keep Matt [Kenseth] back there, and tried with everything I had, and it wasn’t enough,” Elliott said after finishing second Sunday afternoon.
“I felt like I gave my 110 percent today, although very disappointed, again, to be so dang close to winning and having a chance to race for a championship. Learning the hard way, I guess, in some ways, but it’s hopefully making me a better person and making us better down the road.”
A second-place finish provided double disappointment for Elliott and the No. 24 team. Not only does he remain winless in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career (76 races) with five second-place finishes this season, Elliott also failed to advance into the Championship 4.
Coming into the final elimination race of this year’s playoffs, Elliott sat 49 points out of a transfer spot. It translated to a must-win. And after charging to the top spot with 29 laps to go, looked primed to pull off the upset.
Kenseth made the winning pass with 10 laps to go as Elliott’s car began to fade.
“Both. I don’t know how you pick,” said Elliott of which part of the day was more disappointing. “When one means that you have an opportunity to do the other, then I’m not sure how you differentiate the two. But I don’t know, just very disappointing, and I just hate that – I just hate so bad for my team. They’ve been so close to winning a handful of races the past couple years, and just, like I told them after the race, at some point I’ve got to figure out how to close better, and I take responsibility for that.
“I felt like I gave it my all today, and we’ll try to go to Homestead next week, finish the season as strong as we can and then get ready to come at them next year as hard as possible.”
“I race people the way they race me.”- Chase Elliott
Was this payback for Martinsville? pic.twitter.com/dhlbUR5tMl
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) November 12, 2017
While Elliott did not make the championship race, he played a part in making sure rival Denny Hamlin didn’t either. Getting a bit of revenge following their contact and feud two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway. Elliott pinched Hamlin into the wall off Turn 4 late in the going, later resulting in Hamlin blowing a tire and crashing out of the event.
“A wise man once told me that he’ll race guys how they race him with a smile on his face, so that’s what I did today,” Elliott said. “I raced him how he raced me, and that’s the way I saw it. That’s about all I have to say.”