It was a classic case of two drivers fighting for the same real estate.
In the waning laps of Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500, Martin Truex Jr. was pursuing Chase Elliott for the race lead. While Truex had the faster car, he struggled to overtake Elliott.
Rounding Turns 3 and 4, however, he took the high line and got a run on Elliott. He pulled to the inside and went for the overtake in Turn 1.
“He had a run on me there, off of (Turn) 4 and he just kind of cleared himself into 1,” Elliott said.
“It’s Darlington, and typically, you don’t want to go in side-by-side,” Truex said. “I felt like I had enough of a run and enough space there that the last foot or so, (Elliott) was going to understand that if I was committed, we both weren’t going to make it.”
And make it, they didn’t.
Truex drifted up into Elliott’s path and sent both of them into the wall. Both radio’d in that they thought they had a tire going down. Truex surrendered the lead with 13 laps to go and ducked onto pit road.
As Truex noted, that’s “kind of how you race” at Darlington Raceway.
“If a guy gets a run on you and he’s just about got you cleared, you have to give that last little bit,” he said. “Now obviously, the end of the race, probably the pass for the win, (Elliott) wanted to drive it on in there and I was committed to being clear and there was no way we were both going to make the corners. Basically, when I made up my mind and I was driving it in there and then he drove in on my right-rear quarter, there was no possible way that we both weren’t crashing. That’s what happened.”
In the end, Elliott and Truex finished 20th and 22nd, respectively. Both leave Darlington sixth (Truex) and seventh (Elliott) in points, with a 16 and 12-point cushion over Clint Bowyer in the Round of 16 cutoff.
Kevin Harvick was the beneficiary of this incident, as he overtook Truex and drove onto his 57th career NASCAR Cup Series victory.