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ELLIOTT HERALDED AT TMS AS 'THE PEOPLE’S CHAMPION'

Fallout from last Sunday’s frantic closing laps during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway remained a hot topic for Chase Elliott during his presser Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway.

Elliott was shoved out of the lead by Denny Hamlin on Lap 498 when the latter’s No. 11 Toyota Camry picked up the rear of Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS as they headed into Turn 3 of the half-mile oval. The contact sent Elliott spinning into the outside wall. Kyle Busch grabbed second and Clint Bowyer took third. Busch eventually nudged Hamlin, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, out of the lead en route to a key Round of 8 playoff victory.

A miffed Elliott later pulled alongside Hamlin on the backstretch, ran into him and carried him into the wall. The two drivers then stopped their cars, climbed from them and confronted each other with helmets off. Caught on camera by NBC Sports Network, Elliott’s lips easily could be read when he told Hamlin, “You wrecked me!”

Elliott said seeing his stern-looking image plastered on billboards here as “The People’s Champion” – a popular professional boxing promotional tool – was strange.

“You know, as far as last week goes, I don’t know that my thoughts today are a whole lot different than they were then,” said Elliott, who is driving the No. 24 Hooters Chevrolet in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. “I’m still pretty frustrated about it and you know, as long as the week has gone along it has given me a lot of time to think about how close we were to going to Homestead.  I think if anything else that will drive you up the wall more if you think about it.

“Definitely not happy about it and I don’t think a whole lot has changed. But no, I’m not going to answer your questions about whether I’m going to get him back or not. Don’t even ask because you’re not going to hear it from me.  Just don’t go there. But yeah, I don’t think my mindset has changed from that standpoint.  This is a point in this round where we’re going to have to perform these next two weeks to have a chance at Homestead now.  We’re going to have to do just that.”

Elliott, of Hendrick Motorsports, said he has been overwhelmed by the fan support he’s received in the aftermath of the incident. Hence “The People’s Champion” campaign by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage.

“It was definitely unexpected for sure,” said Elliott, son of 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott. “I wasn’t expecting to have that or hear that or see it throughout the week. It’s been…I don’t know if ‘refreshing’ is the right word but it’s been definitely pretty encouraging seeing that kind of support despite the circumstance. To see people encouraging you and wanting you to go win this weekend…to me the message from the fans this weekend has been the best thing you can do is go and win one of these next two weekends and give yourself a shot at Homestead. I think a lot of the people that watch our sport know that and I’m looking forward to giving it my best shot.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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