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NASCAR: Elliott salvages race after late collision with wall; finishes 13 in Las Vegas
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Chase Elliott distanced himself while he held the lead for six laps in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 7. Photo by Abbie Parr for Getty Images.

A collision with the wall on lap 169 kept Dawsonville native Chase Elliott out of the winners circle in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 7. Elliott returned to action in 27th but ran well for the remainder of the race, finishing in 13th place.

Elliott lost control of his vehicle while in 11th place with 98 laps left in the race due to a strong tail wind from the cars he was drafting behind. The collision caused damage to the right front bumper of the car and Elliott lost 16 places on pit road fixing the damage. 

At the end of stage one, Elliott complained to his head crew chief Alan Gufstafson about “right front build up” in his car and his pit crew worked to make air pressure changes on his right side. 

However, Elliott drove his best throughout stage one. By lap 10, Elliott comfortably sat in second place and passed teammate William Byron on lap 20 for the lead. Elliott held the lead for six laps until the competition caution flag came out. 

When entering pit road during the competition caution, Elliott drove too high up into his pit box and had to reverse out of his pit box to avoid contact with the driver in front of him. 

Elliott restarted in seventh place but passed Joey Logano for the lead on lap 63 and held it consistently until Brad Keselowski approached. The two battled for the lead the last 10 laps of stage one until Keselowski officially passed Elliott for the lead on the last lap of the stage. Elliott finished stage one in second place. 

The long pit stop and the end of stage one caused Elliott falling to 29th place at the start of stage two. Elliott climbed the standings throughout the entire stage. He climbed back up to 10th place to end stage two and gained a spot on pit road to start the final stage in ninth. 

Elliott’s collision was just five laps into the final stage. Elliott returned to the race in 27th place and by lap 227, he was back in 18th place. He continued to regain spots and stayed in 13th place for the final eight laps of the race. 

Elliott’s ebbs and flows in Las Vegas were present all last year. Elliott led three of four stages in both Las Vegas races last year but finished in 21st place on average. 

The NASCAR Cup Series standings have Elliott in seventh place after the race and is the fourth highest driver to not have won a race yet. Elliott hopes to get his first win of the 2021 season on Sunday, March 14, when NASCAR travels to Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. 

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