Chase Elliott can finally shed the label of being the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to not win in 2021 as he scored his first victory of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season in a rain-shortened EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
The entire race took place in wet and rainy conditions, but at lap 54 the race was red-flagged for excessive rain which was causing drivers to not have any visibility.
Elliott was just happy that his team kept fighting all day long despite not being super competitive early in the race.
“Couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never won a rain race before, so, it’s kind of cool,” Elliott explained. “And just super proud of our team for just continuing to fight. At the start of the day, we weren’t very good. I kept pushing myself kept making some good changes throughout the day and got to where I felt we were on pace with those guys there at the end. Really proud of that.”
While Elliott had the lead as the race was drawing to a close, he was needing a little luck as his fuel tank was about two laps short of making it to the finish. That luck came for Elliott in the form of a downpour.
This victory marks the 12th of Elliott’s eight-year career, and he now has amassed six wins on road courses, including five of the last six events on road course tracks. Elliott’s win also makes 268 NASCAR Cup Series wins for Hendrick Motorsports, which ties the organization with Petty Enterprises for the most NASCAR Cup Series wins all-time.
Elliott’s HMS teammate Kyle Larson finished second. Larson now has five top-two finishes this season.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano came home third.
Ross Chastain impressed many by scoring the first top-five finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career on Sunday. Chastain led four laps on the day, and was very much in the mix for the win in the final stage of the race.
AJ Allmendinger finished fifth in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 entry.
Rookie Chase Briscoe scored the best finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career as he ended up sixth, Michael McDowell scored his career-best fifth top-10 finish of the season in seventh while Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-10 finishers in the race.
Sunday’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix was an intense and fun race, but the race was marred by a couple of scary crashes at points in the race where drivers simply couldn’t see due to the excessive water on the track.
At lap 17, Christopher Bell and Ryan Blaney made contact, which caused a crash. As that was happening, Kevin Harvick slowed down to avoid the chaos. Unfortunately, Bubba Wallace could not see that, and he slammed nearly full speed into the back of Harvick, which sent the No. 4 car up into the air.
Just a few laps later, a similar accident occurred when Michael McDowell slowed up down the backstretch on lap 23. Martin Truex Jr. didn’t see McDowell until it was too late and crumpled his No. 19 machine. This stalled Truex, and Cole Custer plowed into Truex, as he also couldn’t see anything that had happened.
The contact sent Truex into the air and sent Custer hard into the guard rail.
In the end, the race was called 14 laps short of it’s scheduled distance, but based on the amount of action we saw, it felt like we were treated to a full race’s action. And at the end of the day, the call to not let drivers continue to race when they couldn’t see seemed like the correct choice by NASCAR.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.