COMMENTARY: An Open Letter To Chase Elliott

Dear Chase –
Tough luck yesterday, young man. It looked like you finally had the brass ring in your hand and were set to become the only driver not named Jeff Gordon to drive a No. 24 car to Victory Lane in a NASCAR Premier Series race.
As we all know, it didn’t quite work out that way.
Kyle Busch stole the lead away within sight of the white flag, driving off into the sunset with his fourth win of the 2017 season and his second in as many weeks. It happens. Believe me, it happens.
Was there anything you could have done to stop it? In hindsight, sure there was. You could have chosen a slightly different path through lapped traffic in the final laps. You could have blocked the living bejeezus out of Busch with two to go, or had your boys shave a couple of tenths off every pit stop along the way.
But none of that really matters. You did the best you could, making what seemed to be the smartest decisions you could at the time, then living with the consequences. That’s what racing is. That’s what racers do.
And now, it’s time for another important decision. How do you handle what happened yesterday in the First State?
“Like watching a man perform
his own autopsy.”
In recent years, we have all witnessed your propensity for “going hard on yourself” in the aftermath of bad days. Or even good ones. We have seen you heap all the blame on your own diminutive shoulders, criticizing your own performance to the point of microscopic analysis.
At times, it has been like watching a man perform his own autopsy, with his heart still beating. And with all due respect, that’s something you cannot afford to do right now.
You see, Chase, there comes a point where you can simply be too damned hard on yourself. Disappointment in the aftermath of a day like yesterday is both normal and understandable. Self-mutilation is not.
If there is something to be learned from what happened Sunday at Dover – something different to be done or a critical mistake to be corrected — take that lesson and move on. Don’t dwell on failure, lest you become enveloped in the negativity of it all. In a sport where there is only one winner and 39 losers each week, it’s easy to get sucked into a black hole of self-doubt.
Close, but no cigar.
But your performance yesterday at Dover was spectacular. It was admirable. And it was something to be proud of.
Champions have an uncanny ability to compartmentalize their emotions; avoiding the urge to fly too high on good days, or dip too low on the bad ones. Set your altimeter on the far horizon and chart a steady course. What’s done is done, and yesterday’s disappointment can do you nothing but harm today.
You’re not the first driver to have your heart ripped out at Dover, and you certainly won’t be the last. They don’t call it “The Monster Mile” for nothing, you know.
Right now, we are just a few short days away from the Bank Of America 500at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and you and your team are well-positioned to advance to the all-important Round of Eight in the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
It’s time to get your chin up, rally your team behind you and refuse to let yesterday’s failure become an albatross around your neck.

You’re too good for that.

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