Race Weekend Central

Chase Elliott Exhausted After Earning Top 10 in Return After Leg Injury

RIDGEWAY, Va. – After a 400-lap race on Sunday (April 16), Chase Elliott climbed out of his car at Martinsville Speedway and immediately went to the ground.

It was the Georgian racer’s first NASCAR Cup Series event after coming back from a broken leg that had put him out of his Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet for six weeks, and it was clear the long-distance event had taken its toll on him.

But despite the pain, despite the exhaustion, he still finished 10th.

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“It was definitely a tough, tough race,” Elliott said post-race. “Probably more because I’ve been sitting on the couch for six weeks more so than my leg, but we’ll go home and get it tuned back up.

“I thought it was really nice for how bad we ran today, and for being out of the car for, you know, over a month. I thought it was pretty solid for me.”

The day didn’t start out easy for the 2020 Cup Series champion, either. The driver of the No. 9 had started his weekend qualifying 24th, which meant he had quite a mountain to climb in order to work his way to the front.

Additionally, with a short-track package that made even passing challenging, his climb was even more difficult than usual too.

“It’s really difficult to get to somebody,” Elliott said, “Just like it was last year. So, everybody’s just the same and the more you’re the same, the harder it is to be different.”

It was a rough go from the start. Elliott was mired around that 24th starting position for most of the first two stages of the race. For a while, Sunday seemed like a steppingstone for what may be a journey back to his originally winning form.

“We were just that bad,” Elliott said. “I mean, shit, we were barely hanging on the lead lap. [We] probably deserved to go a lap down there for a long time.”

But in the final stage, he proved that it wasn’t his injury holding him back.

After restarting near the tail end of the top 20, Elliott began to pick positions off one at a time. After a few laps, he found himself near the edge of the top 10.

“Honestly,” Elliott began. “I don’t think my leg was stopping me from performing better once we got our car to a decent place.”

“I thought we were in the ballpark obviously at that point. Just [ran] out of time.”

With less than 10 laps to go, Elliott was able to crack into the top 10 for the first time all day. When the checkered flag waved, it was the end to what was a grueling end to a long and physically demanding event for him.

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“I’m certainly tired,” Elliott said. “Just because I’ve been sitting on the couch like I said. My legs stiff. My knee is stiff, but I don’t hurt or anything like that.”

But despite the discomfort, the end result proved to everyone the former champ had made the return at the right time. Even against all odds.

“It was really good to get in the top 10 there,” Elliott said. “That was something to be proud of … A good fight and way to finish strong.”

With him back and 17 races left to run before the playoffs, there’s only one thing left to do.

“Now we can just go back to work,” Elliott said. “And hopefully get back to normal.”

About the author

Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021. Currently, he is the lead writer for the weekly Thinkin' Out Loud column and one of our lead reporters. Beforehand, he wrote for IMSA shortly after graduating from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.

Follow Dalton on Twitter @PitLaneLT

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DoninAjax

So that’s why the event went from 500 to 400 laps.

Bill B

Good one! LOL

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