Elliott says ‘it’s part of life’ after another late-race let down

Chase Elliott led 75 laps at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday but finished third after restarting fifth on a green-white-checkered.

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Part of being a racer is understanding that things don’t always go your way.

And in his rookie season, Chase Elliott has been brutally hard on himself when he made mistakes that cost his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team possible victories.

Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, Elliott lost in heartbreaking fashion, but it wasn’t his fault. And afterward, he displayed a refreshing amount of candor and acceptance about the outcome.

Elliott was leading the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 and appeared headed to an easy victory when Michael McDowell blew a tire to bring out a caution on Lap 264 of the scheduled 267 lap-race.

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Under caution, Elliott and most of the rest of the leaders came down pit road. Elliott lost a spot to Martin Truex Jr. on pit road and that ultimately was the race. On the overtime restart, Truex jumped into the lead ahead of Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, who all had stayed out and didn’t have fresh tires.

Truex won, Joey Logano finished second and Elliott wound up third, still a good result, but not the victory he hoped for.

Afterward, rather than seeming down, the rookie was philosophical, or at least as much as he could be under the circumstances. 

"There is no easy outcome," said Elliott, who led 75 of 270 laps. "You know, it’s unfortunate. You hate to have it happen. As you get faced with these situations more than once, I think you learn. You learn from situation to situation."

Elliott understand that the caution came out at the worst time, but it was nobody’s fault. You’ll have things like that in big-time auto racing.

"I felt like we did a good job as a team today trying to control the things that we could control," he said. "And you can’t control when a caution is going to come out.  Granted, you can expect one a lot of the time, but you can’t control when it’s going to happen, and you certainly can’t control how many guys are going to stay out on tires and try to make something happen at the end of a race."

And then, this: "That’s just a part of life, part of racing."

Yes, it is. And it’s one more reminder that every race, 39 drivers lose and only one can win.