Sunday, 19 January 2020

Chase Elliott hampered by car trouble in Round of 8 opener – NASCAR

Chase Elliott hampered by car trouble in Round of 8 opener – NASCAR
02 Nov

Chase Elliott’s exceptional start in Sunday’s Round of 8 opener at Martinsville Speedway was undone by an apparent broken axle in his No. 9 Chevrolet.

The issue became clear after pit stops during a Stage 2 caution. After a four-tire stop, Elliott’s No. 9 didn’t fire off just right, and the Hendrick Motorsports driver immediately brought his machine back down pit road.

The team further diagnosed the issue as the race went green, dropping Elliott from a potential top-five position to 37th and more than 10 laps down. The team eventually took the car to the garage in an attempt to repair it, changing the rear gearing.

RELATED: Race results

Elliott returned to the track on Lap 236, 52 laps down and in last place. He finished 36th and exits Martinsville 44 points behind the cutoff line and last among the remaining eight title-eligible drivers.

“Just disappointing for a day like that,” Elliott said. “We know better and we can do better than that.”

Elliott qualified second for Sunday’s race at the .526-mile track, but started at the rear of the field after a blown engine in Saturday practice forced the team to make a swap. He drove his way through the field in impressive fashion, earning three stage points in Stage 1 by finishing eighth and clawing his way into the top five before the issue.

MORE: Playoff picture outlook

The two mechanical issues during Martinsville weekend comes on the heels of an early exit at Dover during the opening race in the postseason’s Round of 12. Now the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 group has opened the Round of 8 with a thud, which crew chief Alan Gustafson said was cause for concern.

“We can’t break parts,” Gustafson told “You can’t win these races if you don’t finish them. Certainly can’t gain any points if you don’t finish them. Yeah, we gotta finish races. We can’t continue to do this. This is not acceptable and we’re not going to get very far if we don’t finish, so that’s a lot to clean up in my opinion. Yeah, not good.”

Asked if next weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway was a must-win, Elliott said it was “certainly the case.” Elliott hasn’t finished worse than 13th in seven Monster Energy Series starts at the Fort Worth venue, but Gustafson said execution meant more than any track record there.

“All you can do, in my opinion, is do the best you can do, right?” Gustafson said. “Optimism, stats, history — all that (expletive) does not matter. It doesn’t pay any points. You’ve got to go, and you’ve got to perform.”

Contributing: Zack Albert in Martinsville



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