Chase Elliott has ruffled some feathers this season. The two-time defending NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver has had drama with both Kyle Busch and Joey Logano in two separate incidents — both coming since the end of the 70 day COVID-19 break.
Fitting, that NASCAR’s fan favorite is getting into it with arguably two of the most hated NASCAR villains.
Back in May 20, Elliott was running second in the return trip to the Darlington Raceway and on fresh Goodyear tires. The leader was Denny Hamlin and he had used Goodyear tires on. With a track so abrasive on tires, Hamlin was a sitting duck. But, he and his crew chief knew that then they had no more sets of tires left and rain was coming. Why not stay out and hope for some luck?
It paid off anyways. Elliott, was spun and crashed by Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate of Kyle Busch in the closing laps. If that doesn’t happen, Elliott was going to win. Instead, he finished 38th and while under caution for that incident, it started raining and the race ended early.
Busch, took responsibility for the crash and didn’t place any blame on Elliott. He said he would be pissed if he was in Elliott’s shoes too. The beef only lasted a week or so because both sides talked it out and have since shown the upmost respect for one another.
Elliott, a week later, won the Truck Series bounty placed on Busch by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis but still donated $25k of that $100k back to Busch’s foundation.
But, in the week following that potential rift, another one ensued. Elliott, made a run at the win a couple of weeks ago at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway and unfortunately crashed he and Logano out while trying. They duo were running 1-2 at the time with two laps-to-go when the contact in Turn 3 occurred.
Logano, went down to confront Elliott on pit road after the race as the two had a discussion on what happened.
“Just going for the win,” Elliott said of his incident with Logano that day. “Trying to get underneath and got really loose in. I don’t know if I had a flat tire going down or I just got loose on entry. As soon as I turned off the wall, I had zero chance of making it. I’ll certainly take the blame. I felt like that was my shot. He was really good on the short run and I felt like I had to keep him behind me right there in order to win the race. I hate we both wrecked. You can’t go back in time now.”
For Logano, he was mad about it, but more mad for what transpired on pit road in their conversation about the crash.
“It frustrating,” Logano said of his take. “He wrecked me. He got loose underneath me. A simple apology as a man would for him to come up to me and say ‘hey my bad.’ But, I had to force an apology. To me, that’s childish. We had a good recovery and had a shot to win and that’s all you can hope for. I passed him clean. It’s hard racing at the end I get that, but golly man, take the hit and be done with it.”
We didn’t know if the feud was done there or not. Last Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, we found out it’s far from over. At one point during the Dixie Vodka 400, Logano gave Elliott a love tap during one of the long green flag runs when Elliott moved by the lapped Logano car on the front stretch.
Then, in the winding laps of the race, Elliott was leading and had another encounter with Logano when trying to put him a second lap down. Logano, gave Elliott no room to get by but appeared to give Denny Hamlin a break in the process which allowed Hamlin by and for him to lead the final 30 laps en route to the win. Elliott, finished second.
When pressed on if Logano cost him the win, Elliott just blanketed it by saying that he struggled with all lapped cars, not just Logano.
“I just need to get through lap traffic better.”
Hamlin, was asked for his take on what he saw of the racing between Elliott and Logano through his visor.
“I’m sure that Joey probably ran him pretty hard there,” Hamlin said. “I think most people would, given the Bristol situation. You almost as a driver kind of got to expect it.
“I don’t think it cost Chase the win. We had already ran him down. Yeah, we were in the middle of battling him, but I don’t think it cost him the race. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. It’s all speculative.
“The way I saw it, (Logano) was very generous to me. That’s all I know. I appreciated that. I don’t think he really ran Chase hard. He just didn’t let Chase clear. I don’t know if he was battling right there for staying on the lead lap. Looked like two down.
“He just didn’t let Chase clear. If Chase could have cleared him… I don’t think he really held him up, he just didn’t give him the spot.”
Logano, spoke to the Sporting News and said that he did make it hard on Elliott to lap him and did so on purpose.
“Yeah of course,” Logano told the Sporting News. “You race people the way they race you. You can’t do things without repercussions of some sort. You cost me a win, I cost you a win. Those types of things go like that. I would assume that everyone kind of understands how that stuff works.
“And you move on from there.”
Will they move on? The ball is back in Elliott’s court if he wants to pay Logano back any.