Chase Elliott knew what was coming.
That’s why well before he hit the Turn 1 tire barrier on Lap 66 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, and before he berated himself for doing so, and even before he thought his race was over, the Hendrick Motorsports driver had one thought.
“I knew long before I hit it that I was going to hit it, so I was just thinking about reverse and getting out of there and finding a hole to crawl in as fast as possible because that was pretty dumb,” Elliott admitted.
And that was perhaps overshadowed in the aftermath of the race leader burying his car into the wall and nearly giving away the win. For as quickly as the car hit the tire barriers it appeared to seamlessly start rolling backward and very quickly Elliott was rejoining the race.
When everything then started to calm down he took an assessment of the damage by looking at the big screen TV on the backstretch of the oval track and realized it wasn’t as bad as he thought. The No. 9 NAPA team made repairs under caution and Elliott fought his way from the back of the field, from 37th position, to regain the lead on Lap 104 and drive away to the victory.
“Obviously, just a really stupid mistake,” said Elliott. “I mean, I’m not sure you could do something more stupid than that. If there ever is a notebook of things not to do, that should be No. 1 in that book.”
NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin tweeted Elliott after the race and referred to when he mistakenly pulled off the track at Bristol in 1994 thinking the race was already over, which in turn gave the win to David Green.
Elliott did have fun with the area after the race as he put his car up against the Turn 1 tire barriers and did his burnout.
“I was coming back on the frontstretch and I saw that dang thing, and I was like, well, I couldn’t pass this opportunity up to go down here and redeem myself a little bit,” Elliott said. “I was pretty excited about that one. I’m typically not very quick-witted, but I was really proud of that. I was pretty fired up.
“Definitely it should have never been special in the first place, but since I went out of my way to make it special today, I felt like it had to go back and see it one more time.”