Chase Elliott regrets wrecking good friend Ryan Blaney on the last lap of the Busch Clash at Daytona, but the defending NASCAR champion is not sure what he could have done differently.
Chase Elliott and Blaney were racing for the win on the Daytona Road Course Feb. 9 when Elliott got into the side of Blaney’s car, sending them both spinning off the track and into the outside wall at Daytona International Speedway. Kyle Busch sped past Elliott after the crash to win the non-points Busch Clash.
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Elliott, 25, and Blaney, 27, are good friends off the track and both hated winding up in a crash together, especially while racing for the win. Chase Elliott said Friday that he hasn’t studied the last-lap crash and is not sure what he could have done differently.
“It’s one of those things that it happened, it’s over with,” Chase Elliott said. “I hate the result, but yeah you have to learn from it. I think there’s a lot of things I can learn from last week. I think we can be better, from a balance standpoint. I think I can be better behind the wheel. And then obviously, if you get put in those situations like that, how would you go about it differently to have a different result? And I think that’s kind of the big question from last week — what do you do different, right?”
Chase Elliott has won four straight NASCAR points races on road courses. It was going for a fifth straight win when he dove to the inside of Blaney going into the final turn.
“The bottom lane was there, was kind of in there, and I don’t know exactly how to change up my approach there to better my chance of winning,” he said. “So, yeah, all those things I’ve thought through. If we’re faced with it again, we’ll see how it goes.”
Chase Elliott not the only driver involved in last-lap crash
The Busch Clash was one of two races during Daytona Speedweeks that featured drivers wrecking each other while racing for the win on the final lap. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski wrecked while racing each other for the lead on the final lap of the Daytona 500, allowing Michael McDowell to win the race.
Chase Elliott doesn’t equate his last-lap move against Blaney with the Logano-Keselowski crash. Keselowski hit Logano from behind when Logano tried to block his pass attempt. The crash left the two Penske teammates angry and frustrated over the collision.
“You certainly put yourself in a better position sometimes … if you’re just going to flat-out crash a guy to win,” Chase Elliott said. “I would say, most of the time, the intent is not there to crash the guy; it’s somebody being aggressive and maybe being a little too aggressive, or lanes come together or whatever it may be. So, I don’t know that the intent is there very often for a person to just crash somebody and win.”
Chase Elliott said he was not trying to wreck Blaney and had no intentions of causing a crash on the final lap.
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“If you’re going to do it on purpose, yeah, clean him out and keep trucking, I mean, I guess,” Chase Elliott said. “That’s, I assume, how someone would go about it if you were going to do it on purpose. But I was trying to get next to him and get beside him, not run through his back bumper. I think that was the big difference in that situation.”
Chase Elliott has no regrets about the move, only that it wound up causing a crash. In his mind, he was going for the win, which is what you are supposed to do on the final lap.
“Like I said after the race, if I’m not trying to win, then what am I doing,” Chase Elliott said. “And I think that’s pretty cut and dry, right. So, if the lane’s there for me and you’re coming to the checkered flag, I think you have to give yourself a chance to win in that situation. Me riding behind him through that chicane and not trying to get next to him on entry was 100 percent not going to allow me to win. There was no way I was following him through there and going to get in the gas, have better drive off the corner with my older tires to the line; that wasn’t happening.
“So I knew that and I felt like my best chance was to get next to him on entry and try to get up beside him. It didn’t work out, but situations change. … But in that situation last weekend, my best chance was to get next to him on entry, and that’s what I did.”
Blaney and Chase Elliott will be among the favorites when the NASCAR Cup Series returns to the Daytona Road on Sunday.
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