Defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott has never won a Daytona 500, but came very close to doing so Sunday night. In fact, Elliott had somehow avoided the melee in front of him on the last lap, and was making his way toward the lead as the caution flag finally came out.
Unfortunately for Elliott, however, Michael McDowell ended up being just ahead of him at the time of caution, declaring the Arizona native the winner. Elliott went on to finish second, in what was a decent points day, but an unsatisfying ending to what could have been his first Daytona 500 victory.
What made the situation even worse is the fact that the camera wasn't focused on the lead changing hands but on the wreck unfolding behind. Elliott even looked like he was taking the lead as he drove off-screen, which disappointed many of his diehard fans when McDowell was announced as the winner.
Seeking redemption after Daytona 500 loss
Again though, Elliott ended up with a good points day and has the chance to take the lead next week if he does well at the Daytona Road Course. Of course, it will also be a chance for Elliott to redeem his loss at the Clash, but continuing to finish strong is the most important thing to do if he wants to repeat as champion.
In the end, losing out on winning a Daytona 500 is one of the hardest pills to swallow in professional sports. It's either that or go into free fall mode after the loss of momentum, and to be able to defend his Cup Series, Chase Elliott can least afford that.