Chase Elliott wouldn’t blame Joey Logano for potentially costing him the win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, instead stating he needed to do a better job.
Elliott led the way late in the Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday night, having cycled to the top spot after green flag pit stops. The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team got ahead of Denny Hamlin by pitting one lap sooner, but Elliott said he was tighter after the pit stop, and his 1.5-second lead didn’t last long.
Elliott had Hamlin on his bumper with 34 laps to go. But lapped traffic started to come into play, and one of those drivers was Logano. Elliott and Logano collided for the lead a few weeks ago at Bristol, which Logano was unhappy with afterward when he felt Elliott didn’t apologize.
As Logano appeared to race Elliott hard to avoid going two laps down, Hamlin took the lead with 30 laps to go. Elliott would later scrub the wall and finished second.
“I just need to get through lap traffic better,” Elliott told Fox Sports 1 when asked if Logano holding him up was the difference. “But I thought our Hooters Camaro was plenty good enough to win. I thought we executed a really nice race and kept it out of the wall almost the whole race, got it there at the end. But proud of the effort.
“We’re bringing fast cars right now, and everybody at HMS is working really hard to do that. Keep putting ourselves in good position, do a little better job getting through lap traffic, and maybe we have another sticker. We’ll try to put ourselves in more spots to win and see where it goes from there.”
Elliott was also asked by the print media if there is a code of ethics between drivers, and how he viewed what Logano did. Again, Elliott said, “I just need to get through lap traffic better.”
From his vantage point, Hamlin said given the circumstances between the two, one should have expected to be raced hard. However, Hamlin didn’t think it cost Elliott the win.
“We had already run him down,” said Hamlin. “Yeah, we were in the middle of battling, but I don’t think it cost him the race. But I don’t know — maybe, maybe not. It’s all speculative. The way I saw it, he was very generous to me, and that’s all I know, and I appreciated that.
“I don’t know that he really ran Chase hard, he just didn’t let Chase clear.”
Elliott led three times for 27 laps at Homestead. He finished inside the top five in both stages.
Since NASCAR returned from its forced hiatus, Elliott and his team have been one of the strongest in the series. Although he only has one win, which came in the second Charlotte race, he has been in contention for many more. Elliott led the Coca-Cola 600 before an overtime attempt, a few days after being spun from second place at Darlington. And his collision with Logano came as they fought for the lead inside the final five laps at Bristol.
In the last eight races, Elliott has an average finish of 10th, with 236 laps led. He is the defending race winner at Talladega Superspeedway, where the series visits next.