Elliott, who has demonstrated exceptional skills in racing on road courses throughout his NASCAR Cup career, narrowly missed out on victory in Sunday’s race at the Indy Road Course. However, it is important to note that his effort was not lacking.
Due to injury and a NASCAR suspension this season, Elliott has missed seven races. In order to qualify for the 16-driver playoffs, he must secure a victory. On Sunday, it seemed that he had a competitive car.
Elliott, McDowell, and Daniel Suarez all completed their last pit stop under the green flag on lap 50 out of 82. However, McDowell managed to exit the pit road before Elliott, while Suarez, who had the advantage of the No. 1 pit stall due to winning the pole position, encountered a delay with his air hose.
After completing the cycle of stops, McDowell came out with a lead of over 3 seconds ahead of Elliott. The race continued without any caution until the end, and Elliott was never able to reduce the final margin, which was 0.937 seconds.
“I simply needed to improve my performance in the latter part of the track and have a smoother exit from Turn 14 in order to position myself better for entering Turn 1,” Elliott expressed. “I genuinely appreciate the hard work put in by the team. Our car performed exceptionally well.”
“I fell just a tad bit short, needing a little more. However, congratulations to Michael for his excellent performance. He ran an impressive race without any errors, which is crucial for securing a victory.”
Elliott expressed that he believed the outcome of the race would heavily depend on the importance of the final pit stops.
He mentioned that he fell behind significantly during that pit cycle and was attempting to maintain a steady pace for the rest of the race. It gave him a sense of starting fresh and having a chance to make progress.
“I believed I had accomplished that, but I simply needed to navigate the (lapped) traffic more effectively.”
Elliott, who is 27 years old, has achieved victory in seven races on road courses. However, he has not been able to secure a win since the introduction of the Next Gen car last year. In the current season, he participated in three races at Sonoma, Chicago, and Indy, finishing in fifth, third, and second place respectively.
Next Sunday’s race will take place at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where he has won two road course races.