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NASCAR Cup Series: Elliott breaks 42-race winless streak after Texas madness

Written by Sean McKean, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

After a wild race in the Lone Star state, Chase Elliott took his first victory since Talladega in 2022 on Sunday in Texas. This is also Elliott’s first win at Texas, and his first at a 1.5-mile track in the Gen7 car.

From his third pole of the season, Hendrick’s Kyle Larson led the field for the first portion of stage one. He kept the lead comfortably over JGR’s Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell until lap 36, in which green flag pit stops began. The order looked like it wouldn’t change, until a fire near Gibbs’ pit stall forced him to stay out longer than anticipated, putting him down to net-fourth.

Although Larson was in net-first, it was his teammate Chase Elliott in the provisional lead. The cars that stayed out during this cycle lucked out on lap 51, as seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson went for a spin in turn four, bringing out the first caution. This allowed drivers such as the aforementioned Elliott and Denny Hamlin to gain valuable track position. 

On the flipside, issues compounded for Ty Gibbs, who had to come back down to pit road. Though it was originally speculated that he came back for a loose wheel – like his teammate Martin Truex had to do – the issue came from the wheel gun, with a part of it sticking to his rear tire on track. 

The rest of the stage finished in a relatively calm manner: Larson dominantly took the stage victory, followed by the Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin.

The beginning of stage two saw Ryan Blaney inherit the lead, having stayed out following the stage break. Despite the tire advantage from Larson – who moved up to second from sixth – Blaney held the lead, proving that track position would be paramount.

The first major incident of the race occurred on lap 100. Out of turn four, Bell lost the rear and hit the outside wall. In avoidance, Hendrick’s Alex Bowman and LMC’s John Hunter Nemechek both spun and hit each other hard. Though Bell and Nemechek were able to continue on – albeit, with damage – Bowman went out of the race. Soon after, RCR’s Austin Hill went out with an unrelated steering issue.

On the following restart, Larson quickly took the lead back on lap 107, but the green flag run wouldn’t last long. Going into turn one on lap 114, Spire’s Carson Hocevar was hooked by a driver behind, which sent him into a spin. Fortunately, he continued with no damage.

Under this caution, however, the race was flipped on its head. While pacing, the right-rear tire went off Kyle Larson’s car. This not only resulted in him having to pit, but it also resulted in a two-lap penalty for an equipment malfunction.

For the next restart, teammates Martin Truex and Denny Hamlin led the way, with Hamlin edging ahead. But, yet another caution came out just two laps later – this time, for Josh Berry. He spun in turn two and hit the outside wall with the rear. He continued on with damage.

Hamlin led the way once more on the next restart. In a brief green flag stint, it saw Trackhouse’s Ross Chastain move into second. The caution came out again not long later though, as Josh Berry would crash again – putting him officially out of the race.

Chastain and FRM’s Michael McDowell led the way on the ensuing restart. While it looked like McDowell would challenge Chastain strongly for the lead, the 2021 Daytona 500 winner ended up crashing in turn four. Though it didn’t put him out of the race, it put McDowell out of contention.

The next restart proved to be the last of the stage. The field remained stagnant as Chastain rallied to his first stage win at Texas. Following behind were Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney.

The opening lap of stage three saw an unusual variable up front: Wood Brothers Racing’s Harrison Burton. After taking the lead with a three-wide pass down the backstretch, it left Wallace and Chase Briscoe to fend for themselves up high. As a result, they each hit the turn four bump and spun around. Both ended up with minimal damage.

The next restart saw yet another incident. Going into turn one, Ryan Preece hit the back of Blaney, sending the Penske driver into the wall. It put Blaney well-far back for the rest of the race.

With 83 laps to go, Tyler Reddick got away on the next restart well and proved to be the fastest on track. However, once green flag pit stops began, a slow stop meant that Reddick fell behind Denny Hamlin; though, Reddick got back by quickly. 

The long green flag run was interrupted with 39 to go, as John Hunter Nemechek – who’d already been having a tough race – hit the wall hard in turn four. This brought out an untimely caution for Reddick, as he was 13th at the time and it gave those ahead cheap stops.

With 33 to go, Chase Elliott took the lead aggressively on the restart with a three-wide pass – very similar to Burton’s earlier in the race. The 2020 champion’s lead would last long though, as Hamlin swiftly took it back. All the while they battled, Brad Keselowski – one of the drivers given a cheap pit stop with the previous caution – was lapping faster than the two ahead in third.

As the race wound down, it was flipped on its head once more when JTG’s Ricky Stenhouse went for a spin in turn two. Though he was undamaged, it resulted in yet another restart. 

It was another restart at eight laps to go with a caution, as Larson was hit and spun around by Zane Smith in turn one. After a bit of deliberation by race control, they decided that Chase Elliott had barely inherited the lead.

A high-pressure restart with two laps to go, Elliott and Hamlin intensely battled for the lead. But going into turn three, Hamlin caught the bumps on the outside and spun around. This put the three-time Daytona 500 winner into the turn four wall. All in all, it resulted in another caution which set up an overtime restart with Elliott and now Ross Chastain leading the way.

On the overtime restart, they immediately crashed in the mid-pack. This time, it was previous leader Harrison Burton and Rick Ware’s Kaz Grala who spun in turn one. This set up a second overtime attempt.

The next attempt proved to be the last, as Elliott took the white flag ahead of Chastain. On the backstretch on the final lap, Byron hooked Chastain and spun him around, which ended the race under the yellow flag.

This win breaks a 42-race winless streak for Elliott, as he also takes his first win at a 1.5-mile track in the Gen7 car. Brad Keselowski took a second-place finish, with Byron third after causing the wreck on the backstretch. Rounding out the top five were Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez. 

After a spin earlier on, Chase Briscoe rallied for sixth. Austin Dillon snuck through the late crashes to take his first top ten of the season in seventh. Bubba Wallace finished in eighth – also in the spin with Briscoe – and Kyle Busch quietly finished ninth after a rough day. Rounding out the top ten was Spire’s Carson Hocevar, who – after a spin early in the race – achieves his first Cup Series top ten.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR Cup Series action next Sunday as they take on the formidable Talladega Superspeedway. 


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