Elliott, who came into the 500-mile race leading on points, was at the head of the field when his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet slammed into the wall at Turn 4 on Lap 185, ending his race in flames as the right-front corner caught fire as he ploughed through the frontstretch infield.
“The tire blew apart, that’s why I crashed,” said Elliott, who was classified 32nd. “Something came apart, I could hear it flapping in the right-rear fender well. If it wasn’t down, it was certainly coming apart.
Of his title hopes, he added: “It’s not a great position to be in for sure, it is what it is now. We were actually decent here for once, that was nice while it lasted. We’ll go to Talladega and try to survive and get a win down the road.”
Race leader @chaseelliott hard into the wall and in flames! 😱 #NASCARPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/oxBghgI54Y— Motorsport.com (@Motorsport) September 25, 2022
When asked if there was a design issue with the tires, he replied: “I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault. 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 racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”
Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver Christopher Bell crashed out at Turn 4 after his second blown tire of the race on Lap 137. He ended his day in 34th place.
“Just the second right rear blown of the day – that was disappointing,” said Bell. “I got a slight vibration before the tire went. The first time it happened was on the straightaway, I was able to get slowed down before Turn 1. The second one happened right in the middle of the corner.
“To have two right rears go in the first half of the race is very strange. I’m in a pretty bad spot now. It’s a very disappointing day. We are probably going to be in a deep hole now.”
When asked how he’ll approach the upcoming races – at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval – Bell replied: “I don’t know. Talladega – I guess we are going to go roll the dice. We were hoping to come out of here good and be able to ride around and just survive Talladega. We are going to have to race and get some stage points and be up front all day.
“[At the] Roval, I think we will be alright. Road courses haven’t been our strength, but we have been good at a couple of them. I don’t know if we are going to be able to get out of this points hole, but we will give it our best.”
Another playoff driver, Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman, suffered a crash on Lap 97 – also at Turn 4 – while running in the eighth spot, losing eight laps while his Chevrolet was repaired.