Elliott Collects Another Road Win As Rain Ends COTA Race Early

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 23 2021

Chase Elliott sailed his car to victory in Sunday’s rain-drenched Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

For Chase Elliott, a downpour which flooded the Circuit of the Americas track with 14 laps to go was a welcome gift.

It caused NASCAR officials to call and end to the race and declare Elliott the winner of Sunday’s inaugural running of the EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series race  the COTA road course in Austin, Texas.

“Couldn’t be more excited,” Elliott said. “I’ve never won a rain race before so, it’s kinda cool.” 

Elliott was in the lead but in fuel trouble – his crew chief, Alan Gustafson told him he was two laps short – with 14 laps to go when heavy rain began to pour down and flood the racing surface of 3.41-mile, 20-turn COTA course.

Officials waved the red flag and shortly thereafter, called the race.

The victory was the Hendrick Motorsports driver’s sixth overall and fifth in his last seven starts at road courses.

It was the first win of the season for the defending Cup champion.

“We’ve kind of had an up and down year,” Elliott said. “To come here and fight. Not the ideal way to win but we’ll definitely take it and move on down the road.”

Elliott did say that NASCAR made the right decision to declare the race over with 14 to go.

 “There were some areas on the track that were getting, actually, really treacherous, I felt like,” he said. “The back straightaway was puddling up and we were starting to hydroplane and do some weird stuff so my only option was to send it through those spots and hope for the best.”

Awarded second place was Elliott’s teammate, Kyle Larson, who had pitted later and had more fuel left  the final red flag waved.

Joey Logano of Team Penske, who led a race-best 14 laps, was third.

Ross Chastain of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth.

Road race specialist AJ Allmendinger was fifth.

Tyler Reddick started the race from the pole after a rare race-day qualifying session on Sunday morning. The pole was the first of the Richard Childress Racing driver’s career.

“It’s pretty well known that I haven’t been very good on road courses and I didn’t want that to be my weakness anymore,” Reddick said. “I just focused during the offseason at being better. I put a lot of work into this, being better and this whole team did a great job to help me get better.”

The race started on a relatively dry track, but before the first lap ended, heavy rain hit and the result was ugly. The slick track combined with lack of visibility because of rooster tails of water coming off the cars caused several bad accidents.

A wreck on Lap 18 took out a number of star drivers, including Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell.

After getting out of the care center, Harvick said, “We don’t have any business being out in the rain, period. All I can say is this is the worst decision that we’ve ever made in our sport that I’ve been a part of, and I’ve never felt more unsafe in my whole racing career, period.”

Back in the pack, “Just so hard to see” in the rain, Bell said. “Racing blind.”

Racing blind resulted in a very scary wreck on Lap 25 when Cole Custer hit Martin Truex, Jr. so hard from behind that Custer’s car ended up underneath the rear of Truex’s. Custer’s car then slammed a wall and burst into flames.

“Man,” Truex said, “it’s dangerous. You just go down the back stretch every lap praying there’s nobody having an issue … a crash or a car stopped or whatever because you are just wide open and can’t see anything.”

Officials then red flagged the race and sent out track dryers. The cars were then called to the pits where teams were allowed to clean windshields and apply chemicals that help shed water from the windshields.

Officials also announced all restarts would be with cars in single file.

The rain let up for a while but came back in force with 14 laps to go.

The next race on the Cup schedule is the traditional Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


NASCAR Cup Series Race – Inaugural 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

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 23 2021
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