Martinsville Mayhem! Chase Elliott Misses Out on Win – Confronts Hamlin

Lucy Atkinson

The Martinsville race was absolute mayhem – as short track races often are in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Things were heating up as the Virginia temperature dropped and Chase Elliott looked like he might just clinch his first ever Cup Series career win. Or – as is often the case in NASCAR – maybe not.

An argument then ensued on pit road between the young driver and “perpetrator,” Denny Hamlin, and we finally caught a glimpse of the passionate, aggressive and emotional driver that hides beneath Elliott’s normally very composed exterior.

What happened?

When racing for first, Hamlin got into the back of the new fan-favourite in an attempt to move him out of the way. It worked and Chase Elliott span out from first with only four laps to go. Kyle Busch ended up winning the race on a last lap pass in his Halloween Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin span out and collected the whole field behind him.

Then what?

Well, the race was over. But as the war-wounded cars limped back to pit road, Elliott decided to take action against Hamlin to release some of the anger that he’s been bottling up from so many near-victories.

He rammed into Hamlin’s left-hand side and squeezed him against the wall. As the two pulled up, Elliott definitely wasn’t done yet as he proceeded to smash into the back of Hamlin. The two of them then exited their cars and words were exchanged. For some, it was a relief to see Chase Elliott – someone who is normally calm and collected – show some true and raw emotion about the events that happened.

As Hamlin conducted a post-race interview, he was booed with venom by the crowds. As soon as the attention moved to Elliott, however, the crowd switched immediately and erupted into woops and cheers.

It came as no surprise to hear the crowds’ response. Especially when this potential win would have been Chase Elliott’s first, the Elliott family’s first win at Martinsville, and a 250th win for Hendrick Motorsports.

It wasn’t meant to be once again for the young driver though and the emotion was very obvious by the way his jaw was set and shoulders were tense. It certainly was disappointing to have come so close, yet again, and only just missing out.

Some would say that it was bad luck, but most drivers would say that that’s just short-track racing. Either way, we all know that anything can happen in NASCAR, and it’s never over until it’s over.

In the post-race interview, Chase Elliott had the following to say about the incident:

“He said someone was pushing him.

No-one was pushing him. It was unnecessary and uncalled for.

My mom always said if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

He’s not even worth my time. …We had a good opportunity. I can’t control his decisions and whatever the hell that was. On to Texas. – Chase Elliot”

Hamlin tried to justify his actions:

“I got into the back of him and he span out.

Everyone wrecked everyone at the end.

It was complete bulls*** chaos. Trying to get a race win.

Everybody was doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team.

I understand they’ve had a win for a long time coming, but this is for a ticket to Homestead.” – Denny Hamlin

This wasn’t the first time that Chase missed out on a win, but it’s clear that the young driver is starting to get fed up with being so close to winning and just missing out in the closing minutes.

It’s almost like telling a kid that they can have as many sweets as they want. So they fill their pockets with deliciousness, only to be told “shop’s closed, put everything back.” Many would have been unhappy with how that race unfurled at the end, but Kyle Busch and his fans certainly won’t be disappointed.

Chase, however, still remains winless in the premier NASCAR series.