Chase Elliott was three laps away from his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series win of his career and a trip to his first championship race until he was wrecked by Denny Hamlin on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Elliott, who led 123 laps on the day, had just pushed Brad Keselowski up the track to regain the lead when Hamlin got into Elliott’s left-rear entering Turn 1 at the half-mile track on Lap 497 and caused him to crash into the wall.
Elliott finished 27th after a chaotic finish turned Martinsville Speedway into a parking lot in the overtime finish. Still upset, Elliott slammed Hamlin into the Turn 3 wall at Martinsville on the cool-down lap and the two shared some words after exiting their cars.
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 29, 2017
“I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race,” Elliott told reporters after the race. “I don’t know what his problem was. It was unnecessary I hadn’t raced him dirty all-day long. There was no reason for that and he comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he had somebody pushing him into Turn 3.
“I thought that was funny because there was nobody within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself. I don’t know what the deal was, but it is so disappointing. We had the best car I’ve ever had here at Martinsville. And had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him we don’t.”
Hamlin responded: “Well, I wrecked him and obviously Ray Charles saw that,” he said, via Motorsport.com. “Obviously, it wasn’t intentional, I just wanted to move him out of the way. I tried to get to his back bumper and slide him up the track and I just went too deep.
“It was no different than him washing (Keselowski) up the race track. We can play favorites if we want but unfortunately there is a ticket to Homestead at stake.”
The pro-Elliott Martinsville crowd was also upset after the race, urging Elliott to fight Hamlin after the race and one fan tried to take it too far.
A Chase Elliott fan wants to fight Denny Hamlin. pic.twitter.com/kcGgfL6NNd
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverAW) October 29, 2017
A fan just chucked this over the fence at Hamlin’s car on pit road. Landed right near a group of media interviewing Gustafson. pic.twitter.com/Euya09b40T
— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) October 29, 2017
Elliott sits in last of the playoff standings after the wreck, likely needing a win at Texas or Phoenix to advance to the title race.
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