Race car drivers are paid to race. That’s after all, the premise of this sport. Even more so in a race that pays no points.
Essentially, it’s checkers or wreckers in these All-Star type events. So, we really shouldn’t be all that surprised that Chase Elliott went for it during the last lap of Tuesday’s Busch Clash.
Yes, he and Ryan Blaney are good friends off the track. But, this is a battle on track, not off. This was for a win. Off the track will take care of itself. These guys are here to win still.
With two laps remaining, Blaney passed Elliott for the lead. Was Elliott supposed to give up just because they were friends?
Elliott, stormed back and caught Blaney for the win coming to the final couple of corners. Unfortunately, contact ensued.
“If I’m sorry about trying to win the race, I’m in the wrong business,” the defending Cup Series champion said.
It’s not like Elliott wasn’t remorseful though. He was. He had no intent to crash the two. He was going for the win. That’s what he’s paid to do. He’s a professional race car driver. A damned good one too.
“Neither one of us won,” Elliott continued. “That’s the big one. “I was close enough to drive it in there and I feel like I’d be mad at myself for not at least trying. Obviously, I don’t mean to wreck anybody, especially him.
“Some guys I wouldn’t mind. But he’s not one of them. Hopefully, he’s not too mad at me. I feel like you’ve got to go for it here in an event like this in any situation. I can’t be sorry about going for the win, but I certainly didn’t mean to wreck him.”
Blaney, understands that sentiment. He after all, is a racer too.
“Chase and I know each other well,” said the Team Penske driver. “I know he didn’t do it on purpose. I know he’s going to make the big move. Any competitor would. If you’re not trying to win the race, what are you there for? We’re just as hard of competitors as we are good friends.”
Blaney went on to say that obviously he’s not happy with Elliott, but that stuff happens.
“Sending it off in there hard like anybody would do, it’s just a shame we both got taken out or neither one of us won the race,” he continued. “If you’re going to make a move like that make sure you win the race. Don’t let the third-place guy do it.”
If he could do anything differently?
“Just block a different way so he couldn’t have gotten to a certain point beside my car,” Blaney said.
Elliott, was able to regain his momentum to bring his No. 9 Chevrolet home runner-up. It was his first top five in five tries in this All-Star race.
Elliott, had to start last on Tuesday night after his team made unapproved adjustments before the race even began. He didn’t stay back there long. Elliott, was in the top five on Lap 13 and used strategy to get the lead on Lap 30.