Pole-sitter Chase Elliott out of Daytona 500 early
Feb. 21, 2016
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Chase Elliott's run at a Daytona 500 victory ended in the grass.
Just 19 laps into "The Great American Race," the Sprint Cup rookie lost control of his No. 24 Chevrolet coming out of Turn 4 and slid into the grass infield. The front end of his car lifted off the ground, and the rough ride caused enough damage that his car had to be towed to the garage.
"We had a real fast car all week out here," Elliott said. "Hate to see it end so soon. We'll just try and get out there and make some laps."
The 20-year-old Elliott, son of Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, shined during his first Sprint Cup Speedweeks. He became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500 pole. He also won the second-tier Xfinity Series race Saturday.
Elliott replaced four-time champion Jeff Gordon in the iconic 24 at Hendrick Motorsports. Gordon was in the broadcast booth at Daytona, calling the shots as the No. 24 went around the track without him for the first time since 1992. He interviewed Elliott during the pace laps and asked how he expected to overcome his limited experience to win the race. Elliott told him his first goal was just to get the Chevy to the end of the race.
Not even close.
"Got in the middle and got loose," Elliott said.
Carl Edwards and Regan Smith also were involved in the wreck, the first of the day.
Even with the early exit, Elliott left a lofty mark at Daytona.
He became the youngest to win at Daytona in the Xfinity Series, getting to victory lane at 20 years, 2 months, 23 days. Elliott calmly climbed out of his car, grabbed the checkered flag and then pumped his fist a few times in the air.
A week earlier, Elliott won the pole at 20 years, 2 months and 17 days. The Elliotts became the fourth father-son combination to earn the Daytona 500 pole.
But none of his achievements seemed to matter as the banged-up 24 was towed to the garage.
Elliott eventually returned, but was 40 laps behind the leader.
"We will just have to look past it and get on for Atlanta," he said. "That is the most important thing now. Can't get caught up in what happened today, it is irrelevant now."