WATKINS GLEN, NY – Chase Elliott didn’t have to say a word. It was clear from his silence on the radio in the closing laps, his hand gestures as he chatted with car owner Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon on the pit road and his steel glaze in the media center how he felt after teammate Kyle Larson showed him the way. had ridden on. track at the last restart, took the lead and won the race at Watkins Glen International on Sunday.
While Elliott was furious after his fourth-place finish, he didn’t speak out about his teammate publicly, but it was clear that winning the regular season championship—and the 15 playoff points that come with it—didn’t leave Elliott overjoyed.
When asked how he will handle the case with Larson, Elliott said: “Just give congratulations and get ready for next week.”
Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, suggested there will be more between the drivers.
“The most important thing is that we have a very cohesive race team internally,” Andrews said. “I think Chase did a great job after the race. I commend him, for all the frustration there was, some things that could have been said. But again, we’re going to work on it internally.
“I can’t sit here and tell you that Jeff or Mr. Hendrick or I have a plan to do something, but we need to have a cohesive race team going into these playoffs. We will work on that.”
Larson said the key to the race was Elliott’s choice for the final restart with five laps to go. Elliott started on the left with Larson on his right.
“I knew this was pretty much my only chance,” Larson told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “I’m not proud of it. But if you’re in the inner lane, the right lane, the leader, pick the left lane, it definitely wins. But if it gets too late in the race, it sure is risky.
“Like I said, I knew this was my only chance to get past him. I felt like our cars were pretty even today.”
When asked if he could have done anything else on the restart, Elliott said: “Yeah, I’m sure it was my fault.”
Both of Larson’s wins this season have come at the expense of Elliott.
In Larson’s first win of the season – in February at Auto Club Speedway – Larson forced Elliott into the wall late in the race as he battled for the win.
“I think at Auto Club it was more of an accident,” Larson said. “Today it was difficult racing at the end of a restart.”
Elliott unleashed a series of expletives on his team radio after that incident at Auto Club Speedway. He said nothing on the radio on Sunday.
So did Elliott see Sunday’s incident the same way as what happened at Auto Club?
“It doesn’t matter,” said Elliott, who led a race-high for 29 laps. “The day is over… I can’t do anything today. It does not matter.”
He’s right, but maybe he can do something on the track to Larson in the future.
“Frankly, I think in my position you should expect no breaks to come my way,” Larson said. “You have to weigh all those things as you gently roll around. Those are all things that have been going through my head.
“I think and I hope it will be fine, but we’ll see. I didn’t end his day today, but I probably took a win from him. I think we’ve raced well in the past. The next 11 weeks, 10 weeks into the playoffs, there’s more than just me to worry about.”
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