Chase Elliott reigns in the rain at COTA

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MAY 23: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Llumar Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on May 23, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott proved that he is NASCAR’s current king of the road courses Sunday, wet or dry. Elliott took the lead on lap 50 at NASCAR’s inaugural visit to the Circuit of the America in Austin Texas and held It until the heavy rain that had plagued the race all day returned forcing NASCAR to stop the race on lap 54 of the scheduled 68 laps on the 3.41-mile road course.

Kyle Larson was second with Joey Logano who led the most laps on the day,14, Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger rounding out the top five. It was the second win in a row for Hendrick Motorsports tying the team with Richard Petty Motorsports at 268 wins overall.

“I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never won a rain race before, so it’s kind of cool,” Elliott said. “We started the day, and we weren’t very good. I just kept pushing myself and we kept making some good changes throughout the day and got to where I thought we were on pace with those guys there at the end. So, I’m really proud of that.”

Weather had interfered with the on-track activity and Sunday’s race was started under damp conditions and NASCAR allowed teams to choose to start the race on rain tires or change to slicks. Rookie Austin Cindric on slicks led the first four laps, before pitting for rain tires.

Martin Truex Jr. who had started the race on rain tires took over the lead with Michael McDowell taking his turn at the point until Joey Logano took the top spot on lap 11 winning the first stage the ended on lap 20. The rain picked up around lap 21 and soon the visibility degraded. On the same lap, Kevin Harvick was hit from behind by Christopher Bell. Two laps later Truex was hit by Cole Custer sending Truex’s Toyota into the air. Both drivers were checked out and cleared.

“I couldn’t see anything,” Truex said. “Going down the backstretch just trying to stay on the road and next thing I know, I saw a taillight and it was on my hood in a split second. You just can’t see anything out there.”

Shortly after the Truex incident NASCAR stopped the field. The rain was easing up and the standing water on the track was cleared and the race restarted.

Kyle Busch, who won Saturday’s Xfinity race, was looking for his second weekend sweep of the year and took the lead on lap 29 leading until lap 40 and winning the second stage.

With a mix of pit strategies saw Larson, Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman all lead laps at some point.

Elliott took the lead but was told he would be short on fuel. The rains came again however, and the field was stopped again on lap 54. The heavy rain forced the second red flag of the day and forced officials to call the race 14 laps early.

“It’s not the greatest thing ever, for it to rain and to have a rain race win, if it’s your first one,” Elliott said. “But I think it’s okay if it’s down the road, so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m looking forward to next week and trying to keep it rolling.”

Chase Briscoe was sixth, McDowell seventh with Bowman eighth. Tyler Reddick who had won his first career pole earlier in the day was ninth with Kyle Busch, who pitted just prior to the final caution, rounding out the top 10.

Elliott now has six career road course wins the most among active drivers and third all time behind Jeff Gordon with seven and Tony Stewart with nine.

NASCAR heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for its longest race of the season the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MAY 23: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Llumar Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on May 23, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix

Circuit of The Americas

Austin, Texas

Sunday, May 23, 2021

  1. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 54.
  2. (2)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 54.
  3. (6)  Joey Logano, Ford, 54.
  4. (20)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 54.
  5. (7)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 54.
  6. (27)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 54.
  7. (23)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 54.
  8. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 54.
  9. (1)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 54.
  10. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 54.
  11. (5)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 54.
  12. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 54.
  13. (28)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 54.
  14. (19)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 54.
  15. (36)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 54.
  16. (29)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 54.
  17. (9)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 54.
  18. (37)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 54.
  19. (24)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 54.
  20. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 54.
  21. (33)  Ty Dillon(i), Toyota, 54.
  22. (22)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 54.
  23. (21)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 54.
  24. (34)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 54.
  25. (3)  Austin Cindric(i), Ford, 54.
  26. (26)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 54.
  27. (13)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 54.
  28. (38)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 54.
  29. (32)  James Davison, Chevrolet, 54.
  30. (31)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 54.
  31. (39)  Kyle Tilley, Ford, 54.
  32. (35)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 53.
  33. (15)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 46.
  34. (40)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, DVP, 38.
  35. (17)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 24.
  36. (14)  Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 24.
  37. (11)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, Accident, 19.
  38. (10)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 18.
  39. (18)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Accident, 18.
  40. (30)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, Steering, 12.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  59.024 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 7 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Under Caution Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for -41 laps.

Lead Changes:  11 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   T. Reddick 0;*. Cindric(i) 1-4;M. Truex Jr. 5-7;M. McDowell 8-10;J. Logano 11-24;R. Chastain 25-26;*. Preece 27-28;K. Busch 29-40;K. Larson 41-44;R. Chastain 45-46;A. Bowman 47-49;C. Elliott 50-54.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Joey Logano 1 time for 14 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 12 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 5 laps; Kyle Larson 1 time for 4 laps; Ross Chastain 2 times for 4 laps; * Austin Cindric(i) 1 time for 4 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 3 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 3 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 3 laps; * Ryan Preece 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,34,1,5,33,17,14,42,18,21

Stage #2 Top Ten: 18,9,8,33,7,5,37,16,14,48