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So Close! Elliott finishes in second at Martinsville Speedway
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Chase Elliott stands in front of his car waiting for the Fold of Honor Quiktrip 400 to start at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 21. Photo by Sean Gardner for nascarmedia.com

Dawsonville native Chase Elliott took second place during Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 on Sunday night, marking the second time that the driver has finished in second during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series. 

“We worked hard today to get back to second place,” Elliott said after the race. “I feel like every strategy call went in the other direction for us. Had a good couple of restarts and a great pit stop there at the end.”

The race started on Saturday, April 10 but drivers only completed 42 laps before rain caused NASCAR to postpone the race until 4 p.m. on Sunday. 

Elliott restarted the race in fifth place but jumped into third on the restart first lap. He finished the first stage in fourth place, but dropped five spots on pit road after the pit crew struggled to take the front right wheel off his car. 

However, the pit stop did not slow Elliott down and the driver never lost a position during stage two, climbing from ninth place to fourth at the finish of stage two. 

Sunday afternoon in Martinsville was all about the yellow caution flag coming out. 15 caution flags came out, peaked by a 12-car pileup causing a red flag delay on lap 387. 

One caution flag on lap 290 brought Elliott back onto pit road but 10 other drivers did not pit, causing Elliott to fall to 20th place. By lap 368, Elliott climbed all the way back to fourth place. 

Elliott stayed in fourth place until another caution flag on lap 452. A pit road speeding penalty by Ryan Blaney pushed Elliott up to third place. 

With 10 laps left, Elliott started battling Denny Hamlin for second place and completed the pass on lap 495. 

“The run was kinda that right distance at the end to maximize it,“ Elliott said. “I felt like if it was any longer than that, I was probably gonna fade.”

Elliott acknowledged in the post race interview that his season has been full of ups-and-downs. Unpredictably, each 2021 Cup Series race has had a separate winner up to this point in the season. Though Elliott is ninth in regular season standings, he sits 11th in playoff standings, behind all seven race winners and Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. 

Elliott’s next chance to capture a win will be Sunday, April 18 at Richmond Raceway in the Toyota Owners 400. The race starts at 3 p.m. 

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