Chase Elliott exits early after Stage 2 crash at Texas

Chase Elliott’s day in the Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 12 opener came to an early end Sunday after a Stage 2 crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Elliott was in the lead when his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet broke loose through Turn 4 in the 185th of a scheduled 334 laps in the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500. He crunched the outside retaining wall and his car skidded to a stop on the main straight at the 1.5-mile track. Elliott exited the car under his own power.

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Elliott said he could hear a tire flapping in the right-rear fender well before the crash.

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault,” Elliott said. “Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of race tracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Elliott has won four Cup Series races this year on the way to the Cup Series Regular Season Championship. The playoffs’ top seed retired after 184 laps and finished 32nd in the 36-car field.

Elliott entered the first race in the Round of 12 with a 30-point cushion above the postseason cutline. He now heads to Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) just four points up — eighth in the playoff standings.

“It’s not a great position to be in for sure, but it is what it is now,” Elliott said. “I hate it for our No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet team. We were actually decent here for once, so that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega, try to get a win and go on down the road.”