Chase Elliott exits early as No. 9 ‘blows up’ at Dover

Chase Elliott came into Dover International Speedway pegged as a favorite to contend for the race win.

After just eight laps, Elliott took the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to pit road because, as he said on the radio, he thought the car was blowing up. After the team examined the vehicle on pit road, Elliott’s fears were confirmed and the crew wheeled the car to the garage.

Elliott, who won last week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval road course and was the defending winner at this week’s race at Dover, went behind the wall and eventually his day was done with a 38th-place finish.

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“Yeah I just had an engine failure of some sort,” Elliott said. “Unfortunately, we don’t really know what it was just yet. It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure. It’s an unfortunate way to start this round for sure.”

Elliott won at Dover last October to kick off the Round of 12 and had never finished worse than 12th at the 1-mile concrete oval in seven starts and has six top-five finishes.

Elliott entered the race sixth in the standings, 19 points above the cutline. Eight of the 12 playoff drivers will advance to the Round of 8 in two weeks after the elimination race at Kansas Speedway. Next weekend’s race is at Talladega Superspeedway where Elliott won in the spring after leading 45 laps.

The DNF sets him 11th in points, seven points beneath the cutoff line.

“I don’t know where we’ll stack up,” Elliott said. “I assume we’ll have to win one of these next few weeks. If you ever make it to (Homestead-Miami Speedway), you’re going to have to win down there. I guess it’s a good opportunity to practice here these next few weeks.”

Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service & staff reports