Five months after the altercation seen and heard around the NASCAR world, the events from the fall Martinsville Speedway race live on. Not surprisingly, it was also one of the first things asked about on Saturday morning.
Through video clips played on NASCAR programming as well as highlights and posts on social media, one of the drivers involved, Chase Elliott, must find himself often reminded of the contact between him and Denny Hamlin in Turn 3.
“My reaction is, everybody’s got to try to write a story, right?” said Elliott.
“It’s been a long time – last October to now has been a good while back, and I can’t do anything about it. So, for me, when I think about that night, I try to make myself think about the characteristics and things that our car was doing that made us good, and just try to run laps in my head.”
Elliott does remember a lot about that night, but again, it has to do with performance.
Before the Lap 499 contact with Hamlin that resulted in a 27th-place finish, Elliott led a total of 123 laps. And the contact occurred while Elliott was leading. In the end, Hamlin also missed out on the victory, and neither he nor Elliott advanced to the championship race.
With 23 top-five finishes and has led nearly 1,000 laps, Elliott is 0-82 thus far in his Cup Series career. Martinsville is just one in a string of disappointing days – and not one that Elliott, unlike those with the highlights easily on hand, frequently recalls.
“The could have, would have game doesn’t really matter. There was a lot that was laying on that race,” said Elliott. “It wasn’t just a win; it was a chance to go race for a championship, so that obviously had a lot of implications. But it doesn’t matter. It didn’t happen. I can’t turn back time.
“We all kind of know the implications and the things that could have been, but they weren’t. So, no point in really getting caught up too much.”