Chase Elliott was heated on the radio after the contact in the NASCAR Cup Series race
On Sunday, NASCAR returned to Fontana, California. They raced at Auto Club Speedway for the first time since 2019. It marked the first race on an intermediate with the Next Gen car.
Chase Elliott started the race in 8th. Yet, it didn’t take long for him to charge to the front after being one of the first drivers to find speed in the top lane, inches from the outside wall.
By lap 23, Chase Elliott was going for the lead. He slid Tyler Reddick and took over the top spot.
On lap 32, Elliott made a mistake. He ran too high, got loose and brushed the outside wall. He rode it for about 100 feet but held onto the lead. Reddick, William Byron and Erik Jones ran back to his bumper after the mistake.
Three laps later, Elliott did it again. This time, he fell back to 4th as Reddick took over the lead. But, the downhill spiral wasn’t over.
On lap 38, Chase Elliott spun out on his own. He later found out this was likely due to the rear toe being knocked out.
The crew went to work on repairs. And by the end of stage two, Elliott wasn’t inside the top 20. However, he was set for a charge.
Kyle Larson wrecks Chase Elliott
With 22 to go in the race, Elliott had surfaced back to the top and he was in a battle for the lead. Kyle Larson and Joey Logano ran side by side down the front stretch. As they traded side drafts, Elliott had a run on both of them.
As they ran hard on each others quarter panels, Larson forgot to look in his mirror. Elliott went to the outside of both of them into turn one. They ran three wide for the race lead. However, Larson wasn’t aware that he was out there and turned right ahead of turn one, shoving Elliott into the wall.
Larson stated over the team radio, “I didn’t know he was there.”
Elliott jumped on his radio, “What the fuck is he doing man? It’s probably going to break again before the end of the race. But, I don’t really give a shit who is leading.”
Elliott spins and comments on Larson
12 to go, Larson was driving away from the field. He was easily heading for his first win of the season. As he closed on the lap car of Elliott, the two nearly made more contact down the front stretch.
9 to go, Elliott spun out on his own. The caution was out and Larson would have to hold off the field once more.
“I’ll probably watch a replay to make sure that I’m seeing thing straight. And I was way in there on that deal. Before I say anything I shouldn’t,” Elliott said over the radio.
“Yeah man. It’s what you saw. I don’t know what else to tell you,” Elliott’s crew responded.
Related: Chase Elliott signs lengthy NASCAR extension with Hendrick Motorsports
Kyle Larson comments
“I didn’t get through three and four very well. Joey did a good job on the bottom,” Larson stated from the media center after the race.
“We were side drafting each other, I’m not even looking in my mirror at that point, all I’m worried about is Joey. I’m looking out my A-post window. I had a run, so I went to peel off. As soon as I peeled off, my spotter’s yelling, ‘Outside! Outside!’ “
“I had no clue he was even coming. I hate that I ended his day after they worked so hard to get back to the lead lap and back to contention to win. Just an honest mistake on probably both of us.”
“I should have had more awareness in my mirror. And my spotter could have told me he was coming with a big run. I would have probably not been side drafting on Joey as hard as I was, I would have more so been protecting on Chase then worrying about Joey.”
“We’ll talk. Hopefully, we’ll get on the same page. I would never run into my teammate or block him that aggressively, that late.”
Larson says he’ll talk with Elliott
“I honestly just told you my side of it. So, I’m going to tell him exactly what I told you guys. Either way, I’m sure he’ll still be upset if we’re on the same page or not.”
“We’re both young and we both respect each other, a lot. We’ll both be racing for wins, for many years to come. I’m not too worried about it. If anything, it’s probably a small bump in the road.”
“If things happen more in the future, then yes, it gets out of hand. With Hendrick Motorsports, I don’t think we’ll ever let it get to that point.”
“I’m sure it will be fine. He’s going to be upset which he has a right to be. I’ll explain my side, he’ll believe me or he won’t.”
Related: Kyle Larson didn’t see NASCAR in his future; Reflects on dirt racing return
Jeff Andrews: Hendrick Motorsports – General Manager
“First off, we gotta understand what those guys have been through all day long, and where they had come back to. Obviously, being in contention for the win there, late in the race is just a testament to the great job that Alan and that entire team did,” Jeff Andrews stated.
“Nothing intentional there, by Kyle. We’ll go back and talk about it in our meetings Monday and Tuesday. We’ll look at all the facts and talk about it as a company.”
Elliott noted that his spin late in the race was related to the toe link. It was the second time he had that issue in the race. However, fans on twitter noted that Elliott might have spun on purpose.
“I don’t think he was taking out any frustration there. He came on there pretty quickly after the contact with the wall. It was a very similar issue to what happened earlier in the day. That puts a bunch of toe out, in that right rear.”
“They were trying to stay out and finish as well as they could. Had to come in and put a toe link on it,” Andrews added.
Tyler Monn: Larson’s spotter
After the race, Tyler Monn admitted a mistake on his end.
Monn stated via social media, “Today, I made a mistake. I will take full responsibility for what happened on track today. I was worried more about the 22 and not the 9. It was a late call on me, it had nothing to do with Kyle.”
Related: Auto Club race results from February 27, 2022 (NASCAR Cup Series)