Chase Elliott’s chances at winning the Daytona 500 quickly vanished Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Elliott, the youngest driver to win the 500 pole and the sixth rookie to do so, spun in Turn 4, just 19 laps into the race. Significant damage was done to his No. 24 Chevy when it then hit the grass along the front stretch. Elliott would return to the race 40 laps down and finish 37th.
“I’m not sure” what happened, Elliott said. “Just got turned around there off of four. Got in the middle and got loose. Lost it and spun out. I hate it for everybody at less than 20 laps in and have something dumb like that happen. I apologize to my guys.”
Elliott lost control coming out of Turn 4, and when his car started to spin, Regan Smith and Carl Edwards also spun and took minor damage.
Elliott said his car was handling fine. The wreck was caused by driver error.
“I just got in the middle there a couple of laps before and got loose off of (turn) four and just lost it,” he said. “I hate it – it had been such a fun week, and you hate to end the race before it even got started. Just disappointed for everybody.”
So, while Elliott was able to get back in the race, his mind was on next week at Atlanta.
“We will just have to look past it and get on for Atlanta,” Elliott said. “That is the most important thing now. Can’t get caught up in what happened today; it is irrelevant now.”
Elliott, who won the Xfinity Series title in 2014 and was runner-up last season, said there is a big difference in driving a heavier, faster Cup car.
“Yeah, it’s definitely different,” Elliott said. “That wasn’t what happened, but yes, that is definitely different.”