Elliott disappointed title run ended early after Phoenix spin

Chase Elliott described his championship chances ending as “disappointing” after contact with Ross Chastain, but still didn’t have much to say about the incident.

Going through the frontstretch dog leg on the lap 200 restart, Elliott and Chastain made contact that sent Elliott spinning to the left and hitting the inside wall. The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet suffered right-side damage, and while he was able to return to the race, it was off the lead lap and out of the championship picture.

Elliott finished two laps down in 28th position. He finished fourth in the championship standings.

“I’m not sure,” he said when asked for his perspective on the contact. “I’m looking forward to the offseason, and I’m really proud of our team for the fight that we put in today. I felt like we just kind of peaked right there before we crashed, and I felt like we got our car driving good, we just had our best pit stop of the day, so that was all really solid. And heck, we were right there next to the No. 22 (Joey Logano).

“I thought we had a shot at it all the way up until we didn’t, and that’s, unfortunately, the way it goes sometimes.”

In the aftermath of the crash, Elliott repeatedly asked his team if he had done something wrong to result in getting spun. Alan Gustafson, his crew chief, was among those who told him that he didn’t, and Elliott, when around Chastain later in the race, let him by without issue.

“Just disappointed,” Elliott said of the crash. “Obviously, it ended our day and ended our chance at a win or a championship. Just disappointing.”

The No. 9 was running inside the top 10 before the crash. On the restart, he was lined up on the inside lane and Chastain was in the row behind him.

The 2020 champion won five races and the regular season championship this year. Elliott noted it was more wins than he had a year ago (two), and it was also a series high.

Sunday’s finale will be what-could-have-been for Elliott. As he and the No. 9 team started to gain track position, perhaps he didn’t get to show what his Chevrolet was capable of.

“I feel like we had gotten it driving about as good as it had been all weekend, honestly,” said Elliott. “When we split the stage and some of those guys stayed out and ran long and we went a lap down and made our lap back up there under green, that run I thought our car was driving pretty good. We had been adjusting to that point, and I thought we had gotten into a decent spot. It’s hard to tell. We were out there on fresher tires, and other guys were on old stuff.

“I was looking forward to seeing if that held true, but from where I saw, obviously, it’s difficult because you don’t have a lot to gauge off of pace-wise. But I felt like our balance was getting pretty close. That was good.

“But until you kind of get back in the mix and reset there, it’s tough to say. I would have loved to see what it looked like on the front couple of rows. I felt like we just had our best pit stop of the day; guys were rolling there on pit road. Yeah, I would have loved a shot there at the end but that’s the way it works.”