Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott entered the Cup Series championship race with the goal of capturing the Bill France Cup for the second time. His opportunity came to an end after a spin on a restart in the final stage.
The stunning incident occurred on Lap 200. The field hit the gas after entering the Geico Restart Zone, and they all began to jockey for the best position in the field. However, the caution lights quickly came back on as Elliott spun across the apron and brushed up against the inside wall.
The replay showed that Ross Chastain was the one that sent Elliott spinning. He moved to the inside of Elliott and Logano, but the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet also moved down. He was not clear, and as a result, the contact from Chastain sent Elliott spinning to the inside.
Elliott lost a lap while the team attempted to make repairs. However, he was able to meet the minimum speed and get off of the DVP clock. Though he was not able to keep pace with the rest of the championship four drivers.
“Just want to say congratulations to Joey and his team,” Elliott said in response to questions about the contact from Chastain. He also changed the subject to talk about the difficulty of reaching the championship four and how he was proud of his team.
Elliott Continued To Limp Around Phoenix Raceway
There was not much that Elliott’s team could do after the spin. He said that the toe link was “destroyed.” Fixing it would require extensive work, so the team just tried to bend everything back into place.
As expected, this patchwork job did nothing to help Elliott’s handling. He was out of championship contention, and he had to spend the rest of the afternoon just limping around the track while falling three laps behind the pack.
With Elliott knocked out of championship contention, all he could do was just complete laps around Phoenix Raceway. Though he and his team spent much of the race just replaying the incident with Chastain. Spotter Eddie D’Hondt, in particular, said over the radio that the only way Chastain could have moved Elliott was by turning right.
Chastain provided his thoughts on the matter. He said that it appeared that William Byron did not get going well on that restart. He said that Elliott had made some “erratic moves” and that the driver of the No. 9 tried to block him. Chastain continued and said that he certainly did not want to spin Elliott considering that he would have wanted another Chevrolet up front with him at the end of the race.
Elliott Ultimately Finished Fourth in the Championship Standings
The race came to an end with Joey Logano doing a massive burnout to celebrate his second Cup Series championship. Ross Chastain finished third in the race — second in the standings — while Christopher Bell finished third in the standings after a slow final pit stop in which his rear-tire changer suffered a finger injury.
Elliott, for comparison, crossed the finish line 28th overall and two laps behind his fellow championship contenders. He left Phoenix Raceway fourth in the standings after winning the regular-season championship and winning the most races (five) in the Cup Series.
The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro will now head to the offseason with some frustration, which is understandable. He will then prepare for the 2023 season with considerable experience in the Next Gen car.
Will this experience lead to even more wins in the Cup Series? The answer is unclear, but Elliott will certainly enter the season as one of the favorites. He has reached the championship four in the past three seasons while capturing the Bill France Cup one time, so he will certainly draw attention once again.