There's no denying that Chase Elliott got the short end of the stick during the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Martinsville Speedway back in 2017. Instead of earning the first Cup win of his career, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports got bumped by Denny Hamlin during the race's closing laps, which sent Elliott spinning into the wall and ended his day in Virginia. He was ultimately credited with a 27th-place finish.
Elliott was understandably upset after the race, but almost equally as angry was one of Elliott's fans, who seemed intent on throwing down with Denny on pit road. He almost got right in the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's face, but was pushed away by one of Hamlin's crew members and was eventually escorted off the premises by law enforcement. Before being pushed out of earshot, the fan yelled out a "dirty veteran" parting shot that probably hit close to home for the three-time Daytona 500 winner. I mean, technically Denny is a veteran and has been known to race aggressively to the point of dirty from time to time. So, it's not like the guy was completely off-base.
Now, it's not often that NASCAR fans try to fight battles on behalf of their favorite drivers. In fact, this was probably the first time something like this ever happened, though I'm happy to have any NASCAR historian out there prove me wrong. In any case, Elliott didn't pull into his team's garage before letting off some steam himself.
During the cool-down lap, Elliott sideswiped Hamlin up into the outside wall a few times for good measure, and then parked by the frontstretch, got out of his car, and got right into Hamlin's face. The fans in grandstands were clearly fired up by the post-race confrontation, and came to Elliott's aid by raining a chorus of boos down on Hamlin.
Time for a lip-reading contest. ?#2the4ront #NASCARPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/7K24oz6Y1n
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 29, 2017
In his post-race interview, Hamlin tried giving his side of the story.
"I got in the back of him and he spun," Hamlin said. "I'm trying to get a race win. Everybody wrecked everyone at the end. It was complete s***. It was a mess at the end. Everyone was doing the exact same thing. I hate it for his team, but this was a ticket to Homestead. I'm not saying I wrecked him on purpose but I got in the back of him and he spun out."
Elliott didn't really care much for Hamlin's excuse, but kept things relatively civil in his own response.
"My mom always said if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," Elliott said. "He's not worth my time, so we'll move onto Texas. It was just unnecessary and uncalled for. I can't control his decisions and whatever the hell that was."
Elliott would end up placing eighth at Texas, followed by a second-place finish at Phoenix Raceway and a fifth-place finish at Homestead to cap off the 2017 season with a fifth-place finish in the standings. As for Elliott's first Cup win, that would eventually come the next season with his win at Watkins Glen in August. Today, Elliott has 18 Cup wins and a championship under his belt, so he sure has come a long way since then.
MORE: Chase Elliott, NASCAR's Most Popular Driver, Defends His Trip to the "Hat Store"
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