Elliott Close Yet Again

Chase Elliott

“I felt like I gave my 110 percent today, although very disappointed, again, to be so dang close to winning and having a chance to race for a championship." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Chase Elliott came close to both his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win and a spot in the Championship 4 Sunday in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

Elliott had the lead after a spirited battle with rival Denny Hamlin until Matt Kenseth wrestled the top spot away and drove on to Victory Lane.

That left Elliott with another second-place finish and no shot at running for his first title next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I felt like I gave my 110 percent today, although very disappointed, again, to be so dang close to winning and having a chance to race for a championship,” Elliott said.  “Learning the hard way, I guess, in some ways, but it's hopefully making me a better person and making us better down the road.”

The finish was Elliott's seventh career second-place finish.

“Man, it’s such a bummer to be so freaking close again,” he said. “Had a shot to go race for a championship next week, so we fought as hard as we could today.  I told my guys a minute ago, at some point we will figure out how to close or I will figure out how to close and we can have some great opportunities down the road, I hope.”

Sunday’s sell out crowd at Phoenix was on its feet during a battle between Elliott and Denny Hamlin, who have been feuding since their controversial incident at Martinsville Speedway two weeks ago. Hamlin got into the rear bumper of Elliott while he was leading at Martinsville and caused him to spin into the wall, which triggered weeks of feuding and discussion.

Elliott got into Hamlin’s car several times in Phoenix with aggressive racing. Contact and damage to Hamlin’s car finally cut a tire, which sent him into the wall and out of the race ending the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s playoff hopes.

Elliott was unapologetic about the hard racing.

“Oh, well I’m going to race guys how they race me and keep a smile on my face regardless,” he said. “I’m happy to race guys how they choose to race me and that’s the way I see it.”

Despite the bitter ending to his day, Elliott was thankful for the support he’s receiving from his growing fan base.

“Yeah, that means a lot to me to have great support and great fans,” Elliott said.

“You know, I want people to pull for whoever they want to pull for and it be genuine, and if that's me, then I certainly will take all the help I can get, so I appreciate each and every one of the folks here that came out, that had the right hats and shirts on and even the ones that didn't.  Happy to have them, and hopefully we can    I just want to make them proud some day and tried to do it today.”

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