It might have cost Chase Elliott the championship, but the No. 9 driver didn’t blame Ross Chastain after the race.
Elliott and Chastain made contact after the Lap 200 restart, which resulted in the No. 9 car slamming into the inside wall. The incident not just put Elliott out of contention for the title, but also the worst finish among the title contenders.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver also finished last in the points standings among his title rivals due to the 28th place finish at Phoenix Raceway.
However, he deflected questions when asked about Chastain and the incident after the race and rather focused on the off-season and praising his team effort for the season.
In a recent episode of the Dale Jr Download, Dale Jr. spoke about the incident with co-host Mike Davis, where he said:
“He just spun himself out. But he didn’t do anything. Egregious. But they wouldn’t say, Man. Ross wrecked. You go get him.”
Dale Jr. also speculated that the reason Elliott chose to remain silent was that he didn’t want to end his 2022 season in a complaining mood.
“I think that if they were going to another race the next weekend he would have said more. But the fact that he was ending the year that weekend, he didn’t want that to be the sound bite for the next several months. But what’s the last thing you’re going to say to a microphone at the end of a year when you’ve lost a Championship? Is it going to be complaints about Ross Chastain? Is that what you want to leave on the table? Is that the bookend that you want?”
While Elliott might have chosen to not speak on the incident, Hendrick Motorsport’s Vice Chairman Jeff Gordon was very open in criticizing Chastain for the aggressive move.