Over 10 seconds behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate at the finish line, Chase Elliott said there is “no doubt” the best driver and the best car won Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600.
“He definitely did a better job for sure,” Elliott said of Kyle Larson. “I thought he did the best job driving and being able to make pace and not abuse his tires each run. Yeah, best driver, best car won tonight. There’s no doubt.
“For us, we just look ahead, and I’m excited for more opportunities. That’s all you can do when you get beat is look ahead and be excited for another race.”
Elliott trailed Larson for much of the 600-mile event, finishing second to Larson in the race and Stage 1 and Stage 2. And while Elliott led 22 laps, second-most of the race, they paled in comparison to the 327 laps that Larson spent in front.
Slower traffic helped Elliott catch and pass Larson for the lead on lap 132. But Larson made up time coming to pit road under green-flag conditions, not only erasing a three-car length gap to Elliott, but getting side-by-side with him as they drove down pit road to their pit stalls. Then Larson cycled to the race lead once again.
On the track, the two battled each other just as hard when they got side-by-side. Neither gave an inch, and while Larson always had the superior car, Elliott enjoyed the battles while they lasted.
“We were racing hard and racing for the lead of the Coca-Cola 600,” he said. “I didn’t see anything wrong with anything that happened tonight. Was it fun to watch? There you go.”
The race’s final stage went caution-free, with the final round of pit stops occurring with less than 55 laps to go. Elliott sat 2.6 seconds behind Larson when the stops cycled through, but Larson easily drove away as Elliott went to work on holding off Kyle Busch and another teammate in William Byron.
“Just keep pushing,” Elliott said of staying focused when a teammate is dominating the race. “They did a better job, as I said before. The only thing you can do is just look for more opportunities, be excited for another chance, and fortunately, we have that next week, next Sunday, and the Sunday after that. We’ll just try to get a little better, and me do a better job, us communicate better as a team, execute better, and try to have a better result.”