At the start of the final stage of the Fold of Honor Quiktrip 400 on Sunday, March 21, Chase Elliott’s transmission failed, resulting in his removal of the race with a 37th place finish.
Stage two started off with Kurt Busch colliding into the back of Elliott’s car, sending Busch into the wall and ending his day. Busch’s contact sent Elliott into the back of Kyle Busch’s car, creating an air flap from the cut metal on the front of Elliott’s car.
Commentators continuously compared the damage to a parachute, referencing how Elliott’s car continued to lose speed with the damage.
“Obviously, I broke a motor there,” Elliott said after the race ended. “We got some damage on that restart with [Busch]...I don’t know if that had anything to do with breaking the engine or not.”
Up to the collision, Elliott was racing fast. Due to two failed inspections before the start of Sunday’s race, Elliott had to start at the back of the pack, but climbed 22 spots to 15th before the competition caution on lap 26. He finished stage one in eighth place, but was unable to regain that speed after the collision.
“I hate it,” Elliott said. “We feel like our car was pretty decent. We drove up there and got up to tenth or so at the end of the stage. Felt like we were in a decent position to work on it the entire day.”
Prior to the start of the final stage, Elliott’s pit crew fixed the cosmetic damage from the accident right before his transmission failure.
Luckily, Sunday’s race will not be Elliott’s only chance to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. They will race on the track once again on July 11, 2021.
Elliott will look for his first 2021 Cup Series victory next Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway’s first ever dirt track race. Next Sunday’s race is the first time NASCAR’s Cup Series has raced on dirt since 1970. The Food City Dirt Race starts at 3:30 p.m.