Elliott on Talladega: ‘You Would Think Those Guys Want to Win’

The 22-year-old driver finished third but felt he could’ve done better had those around him pushed for the lead.

byCaleb Jacobs| UPDATED Apr 30, 2018 10:18 AM
Elliott on Talladega: ‘You Would Think Those Guys Want to Win’

Chase Elliott piloted the lone-Chevrolet in the top-five to a third-place finish on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway's Geico 500. In pursuit of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, the Georgia-born driver was flooded by a pack of Roush Yates-powered Fords in the top half of the field. As he nudged into his eventual finishing position with less than 10 laps to go, Elliott was waiting on a hard-charge from one or more competitors to the front; in turn, this would create a draft for him to slip into and perhaps challenge for a higher position. Despite those hopes, the field remained mostly static and he was forced to settle with another shortcoming—at least in his eyes. 

After the race, Elliott spoke to the press and detailed his surprise that others didn't take the same approach that he had in mind. 

“It’s tough,’’ Elliott explained. “You would think those guys want to win the race around me, but they just ride and ride and ride and they have to know in their minds they are waiting too long, even for themselves."

“I thought maybe one of them would get greedy and want to win, I certainly did. I knew if I went by myself it wasn’t going to work. For what it was, it worked out pretty good.’’

Elliott, in the No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet, tangoed with Fords at the top en route to the checkered flag., © 2018 Rip Shaub. All Rights Reserved

“For us, we just never got anything going, I feel like, until the end,’’ Elliott continued. “I was able to come in and put on tires toward the end of the race and have a little better rubber than those guys around me, which was nice, and I made some good moves to get up inside the top-five."

“Last few laps, (I) was really trying to make a run and do something there at the end. Those guys were being awfully patient with one another. I was very surprised. I mean, it was more than obvious that they were not going to help me move forward.’’

Even though he was unable to clinch the premier-series W, Elliott still performed well in the contest that was dominated by cars of a rival make. Six of the seven top finishers drove Fords, and while Joey Logano decisively won the restrictor-plate race for Team Penske, the No. 9 driver Elliott says he and his crew must continue their comeback in the next handful of events to fight for contention.

“For us trying to gain some points back, we needed a good finish [today],’’ Elliott ended. “We are trying to dig out of a bit of a hole right now. So, (we) need runs like we’ve had the past two weeks. So we’ll move on.’’