Elliott ends drought, wins double OT thriller in Texas

Chase Elliott celebrates in Victory Lane after winning Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. The victory snapped a 42-race winless streak. Photo by David Barks.

Chase Elliott picks up his first victory since 2022, holding off all challengers in the AutoTrader EchoPark 400

FORT WORTH, TX – Chase Elliott ended a 42-race winless streak with a victory at Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark 400 NASCAR Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR’s most popular driver had to survive two overtimes, and challenges from Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain, to win for the first time since Talladega in the Fall of 2022 and for the 19th time in his Cup career.

Chase Elliott crosses the finish line to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

“I think that the win’s great, all that stuff is fantastic, but I’m truthfully most proud of the journey and the group of people that we have climbed back up together with,” said Elliott. “We’ve made each other better. They push me to be a better driver and a better person.

“I just feel like we’re all in a really good place, and we have been. It’s nice to see all the hard work pay off. Those guys really deserve to win. They’ve been busting it for a while, have been doing a really good job. That’s what I’m most proud of, is the journey and all of us sticking together at the 9 team.”

Down the stretch, it was a battle among three drivers – Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, and Elliott.

Elliott got the lead with 23 laps to go and the chase to catch Chase was on.

He held the lead through three late cautions – cautions that forced the scheduled 267-lap race over the speedway’s 1.5-mile oval into double overtime.

Two of those cautions ended the threat from Hamlin and Chastain.

Brad Keselowski (6) and William Byron (24) cross the finish line in second and third place, respectively, in Sunday’s Cup race in Texas. Photo by David Barks.

There were a Texas Motor Speedway record 16 cautions overall.

The 13th set the stage for what would become overtime when Ty Dillon ran into Zane Smith who bounced off Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson with six laps remaining in the race.

Elliott grabbed the lead from Hamlin on the restart, and as he moved in front, which put a lot of air on the front of Hamlin’s Toyota. Hamlin hit the bump coming out of Turn 4, began to slide and fell back from second to 32nd, bringing out Caution No. 14.

That threat number one was over.

Now in the first overtime, it was Chastain’s turn –  moving up from third when Hamlin spun out.

Before the white flag came out, Kaz Grala and Harrison Burton collided, setting up double OT.

After the final restart, Elliott, on the inside, and Chastain battled side-by-side with Elliott finally taking the lead for good after the white flag came out signaling the final lap.

The next flag, green or yellow, would end the race and it was yellow when Chastain went around, again after hitting the bump in the track coming out of Turn 4, bounced off William Byron’s car, and was knocked out of the race in 32nd place.

Brad Keselowski ended up finishing second, 0.558 seconds behind Elliott, with Hendrick Motorsports William Byron third, followed by Tyler Reddick, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch (who started the race in the back of the field), and Carson Hocevar.

Chase Elliott does a Polish Victory lap after winning Sunday’s Cup race in Fort Worth. Photo by David Barks.

“We didn’t have a ton of speed. Honestly, I’m more frustrated than anything because I feel like we have a great team and we don’t have the speed to go with it. We’re doing all we can do to overcome that,” said Keselowski. “The driver in me is frustrated because I feel like these are races I’m good enough to win, and we don’t have the speed to do it. Only reason I am mad as hell is it’s my fault for not making the cars faster. Still proud of the team that we have, the pit stops, strategy, execution to put ourselves in position to get a finish we probably didn’t deserve but earned with some kind of never-give-up spirit.”

Second place was definitely not the place to be this afternoon.

Besides Hamlin and Chastain, Michael McDowell and Wallace spun out coming out of Turn 4 while they sat second.

Wallace was able to recover for a seventh-place finish.

McDowell crashed and was knocked out of the race in 34th.

Hendrick racer Kyle Larson was on the pole.

Larson got off to a strong start, leading the first 35 laps.

After a pit stop, Larson regained the lead and held it for the final 25 laps of Stage 1 to win the stage.

Denny Hamlin (11) leads Alex Bowman (48), Ross Chastain (1), Austin Dillon (3), Carson Hocevar (77), and Daniel Suarez (99) during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.. Photo by David Barks.

Larson’s day fell apart during a caution that came out on Lap 115.

After the pit stop, while setting up for the restart, the right rear wheel fell off Larson’s Chevy Camaro.

Larson had to deal with a two-lap penalty, and likely a crew chief suspension, but was able to recover for a 21st-place finish.

It really could have been anyone’s race. There were 23 lead changes among 13 drivers.

Larson led the most laps; 77.

Elliott led the second most with 39.

Hamlin and Reddick were next with 37 laps apiece; Ryan Blaney was up front for 17 laps, and Joey Logano for seven.

Logano finished 11th and Blaney 33rd.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion came out of retirement to race Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Johnson finished 29th. Photo by David Barks.

Instead of the now-traditional post-race winner’s burnout. Elliott did a Polish Victory Lap in honor of the late Alan Kulwicki. In a Polish Victory Lap, the winning racer drives slowly around the racetrack in a clockwise direction, so the fans can see the driver’s face and he can see the fans’ faces in the grandstand.

“Oh, man, couldn’t feel any better. First off, thanks to everybody that came out today. You guys are unbelievable,” said Elliott to the fans after exiting his car. “Hooter’s has been a partner of ours for a number of years now. It’s been a dream of mine to pay respect to the late Alan Kulwicki. Driving this car to a victory and do a Polish Victory Lap – just really crazy how things came full circle there in that moment. It was pretty emotional for me. He beat dad (Bill Elliott) back in the day. Here we are sharing his sponsor and having an opportunity to win today. So just, man, couldn’t be more grateful for this journey and kind of the path that hasn’t always been fun, but certainly have enjoyed working with our guys.”

NASCAR is heading to Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for Xfinity racing on Saturday, April 21, and Cup racing on Sunday, April 21.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Texas Motor Speedway

Fort Worth, Texas

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Statistics supplied by NASCAR

1.\Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 276 laps.

2. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 276.

3. William Byron, Chevrolet, 276.

4. Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 276.

5. Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 276.

6. Chase Briscoe, Ford, 276.

7. Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 276.

8. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 276.

9. Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 276.

10. Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 276.

11. Joey Logano, Ford, 276.

12. Ryan Preece, Ford, 276.

13. Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 276.

14. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 276.

15. Chris Buescher, Ford, 276.

16. Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 276.

17. Christopher Bell, Toyota, 276.

18. Noah Gragson, Ford, 276.

19. Erik Jones, Toyota, 276.

20. Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 276.

21. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 276.

22. Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 276.

23. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 276.

24. Justin Haley, Ford, 276.

25. Austin Cindric, Ford, 276.

26. Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 276.

27. Kaz Grala #, Ford, 276.

28. Harrison Burton, Ford, 276.

29. Jimmie Johnson, Toyota, 276.

30. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 276.

31. Todd Gilliland, Ford, 276.

32. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 275.

33. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 268.

34. John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, Accident, 226.

35. Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 143.

36. Josh Berry #, Ford, Accident, 136.

37. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 100.

38. Austin Hill(i), Chevrolet, Steering, 98.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  116.492 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 33 Mins, 14 Secs.

Margin of Victory:  Under Caution Seconds.

Caution Flags:  16 for 72 laps.

Lead Changes:  23 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 1-35;T. Gibbs 36-40;C. Elliott 41-52;K. Larson 53-54;C. Bell 55;K. Larson 56-84;R. Blaney 85-87;*. Hill(i) 88;R. Blaney 89-99;K. Larson 100;R. Blaney 101-103;T. Gilliland 104-106;K. Larson 107-116;D. Hamlin 117-138;R. Chastain 139-167;B. Wallace 168-172;H. Burton 173-179;T. Reddick 180-213;R. Chastain 214-217;J. Logano 218-231;T. Reddick 232-234;C. Elliott 235-244;D. Hamlin 245-259;C. Elliott 260-276.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson 5 times for 77 laps; Chase Elliott 3 times for 39 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 37 laps; Tyler Reddick 2 times for 37 laps; Ross Chastain 2 times for 33 laps; Ryan Blaney 3 times for 17 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 14 laps; Harrison Burton 1 time for 7 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 5 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 5 laps; Todd Gilliland 1 time for 3 laps; * Austin Hill(i) 1 time for 1 lap; Christopher Bell 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 5,20,11,45,14,12,9,34,24,23

Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,23,12,43,14,6,21,47,54,9

Like our stories? Share them online.