By Jared Turner
Chase Elliott Is Learning How To Handle Disappointment
On previous occasions this season when Chase Elliott was in contention for a win, only to come up painfully short in the end, the rookie driver has been exceedingly hard on himself to the point of sulking during post-race interviews. But Sunday’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway was a different story. Elliott, the second-generation driver who replaced Jeff Gordon this season in Hendrick Motorsports’ iconic No. 24 Chevrolet, was cruising to an almost certain victory when Michael McDowell’s tire failure brought out a caution flag with five laps to go. Under the yellow, various pit strategies played out that jumbled up the running order and left Elliott fifth on the final restart with two laps remaining. Elliott moved up two spots in the final order but missed out on the opportunity to get both his first career Sprint Cup win and punch his ticket to the next Chase round. The youngster took Sunday’s heartbreaking defeat in stride, however, calling it “just a part of life, part of racing.” Indeed it is. And Elliott will be better off for viewing it as such.
Don’t Overlook JoLo
Compared to the past two years, 2016 has been fairly tame and uneventful for Joey Logano. To discount himself as one of the favorites to win the championship would be a grave mistake, however. Despite winning just once so far this year – compared with six wins in 2015 and five in 2014 – Logano opened the Chase with a solid second-place finish and is in position to advance to the Round of 12. Don’t be surprised if Logano is ultimately one of the four championship finalists. He made it that far in 2014 and was well on his way to doing so again last season before being deliberately wrecked by Matt Kenseth in the Martinsville Chase race.