NASCAR’s Chase Elliott Breaks 42 Race Winless Streak at Texas

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Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX — April 14, 2024

The early season championship favorite spotlight has focused intently on Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron after grabbing his third victory of the season last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Byron led a 1-2-3 Hendrick Motorsports finish at Martinsville on Sunday, with Kyle Larson finishing second and Chase Elliott in third. It was the first time a podium sweep by an organization has occurred at Martinsville.

Now, the 26-year-old heads to Texas Motor Speedway riding a massive wave of momentum for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400. Byron is the most recent winner and defending champion at the 1.5-mile track, taking home the trophy last September. (This year’s race was moved to April.)

23 different NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway, and eight of the 23 Cup Series Texas winners are active this weekend.

Active Texas Race Winners

Wins

Seasons

Jimmie Johnson

7

2017, ’15 sweep, ’14, ’13, ’12, ’07

Kyle Busch

4

2020, ’18, ’16, ’13

Denny Hamlin

3

2019, ’10 sweep

William Byron

1

2023

Tyler Reddick

1

2022

Kyle Larson

1

2021

Austin Dillon

1

2020

Joey Logano

1

2014

 

Early Season Comers and Goers

Currently, the five drivers to climb the most positions in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings from where they were ranked following Daytona are Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who has gained +18 positions, Joey Logano, who has gained +16 positions, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., who has gained +14 positions, RFK Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell each have gained +13 positions in the driver standings since Week 1.

The top five drivers not going in the right direction in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings since Daytona are Spire Motorsport’s Zane Smith, who has dropped -21 positions since the season-opener, and Corey Lajoie, who has dropped -18 positions in the standings, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Noah Gragson, who has fallen -14 positions in the points, and Legacy Motor Club’s John Hunter Nemechek has dropped -13 positions and Erik Jones has dropped -11 positions.

Today’s Race

Kyle Larson starts on the pole for today’s race. His third pole in the last three races. Ty Gibbs sits beside Larson on the front row.

Both Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson spun and crashed in practice, so they will start at the back of the field.

Stages are set for 80/85/102 laps. The 267 trips around the 1.5-mile quad-oval layout make up 400.5 miles.

Several drivers expressed concern after practice and qualifying with the lack of handling in the Next-Gen Cup-Series car.

Yesterday’s Xfinity Series race ended in a photo finish with Sam Mayer taking the checkered flag by 2/1000s of a second. Shades of the Cup Race at Atlanta. Could we see such a finish today?

Stage One

Kyle Larson(5) drove away from Ty Gibbs(54) at the start of the race. Drivers tiptoed their way around the Speedway as hot temps added to the slick racing conditions.

Single-file racing was the order of the afternoon as drivers adjusted to the track and speed falloff from tire wear. Green flag pit stops began at the mid-point of the Stage as teams looked to gauge tire performance and their suspension setups.

Everyone pitted except Chase Elliott(9) and Todd Gilliland(38), who stayed out hoping for a caution to improve their track position. Jimmie Johnson(84) provided that when he spun off turn four on lap 49.

Martin Truex Jr.(19) and Ty Gibbs pitted and had to return to pit road. Treux to tighten a loose wheel, Gibbs to have the single lug nut adapter removed from a wheel where it had gotten stuck and disengaged from the air gun. Both drivers lost all of their previously earned track positions.

Larson, back at the front for the restart, was flanked by Christopher Bell(20) for the drop of the green flag. With 20 laps to go in the Stage, the top five were Larson, Bell, Denny Hamlin(11), Tyler Reddick(45), and Chase Briscoe(14). 32 of the 38 starters were on the lead lap.

Larson led 62 of the 80 laps in Stage One to take the Stage win.

Results of Stage One

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 5 Kyle Larson 10
2 20 Christopher Bell 9
3 11 Denny Hamlin 8
4 45 Tyler Reddick 7
5 14 Chase Briscoe* 6
6 12 Ryan Blaney* 5
7 9 Chase Elliott 4
8 34 Michael McDowell* 3
9 24 William Byron 2
10 23 Bubba Wallace 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Stage Two

Four drivers opted to stay out during the Stage ending pit stops. Austin Hill(33), Ryan Blaney(12), Ty Gibbs, and Chris Buescher(17). They will restart in the first two rows when racing resumes. Laron sits in the fifth spot, the first driver with fresh tires.

Larson quickly passed everyone but Blaney, who successfully fought off the challenge. On lap 100, Bell spun off turn four in the same manner as Jimmie Johnson. Alex Bowman(48) and John Hunter Nemechek(42) were collected in the incident.

Everyone but Todd Gilliland pitted setting the field all on the same pit sequence for Stage Two.

However, just 13 laps later, the race was back under as Carson Hocevar(77) spun and Chris Buescher hit the wall in turn one.

The caution was fortunate timing for Kyle Larson, who encountered a severe problem circling the track at reduced speed. The right rear tire on Larson’s car came off.

Kyle Larson without a right rear tire / NASCAR Photo

It was not completely tightened on the previous pit stop. He likely avoided a high-speed incident with other cars at the front of the field. However, the penalty for losing a wheel on the track saw him held in the pits for two laps. He is likely out of contention for the win today and the team will be penalized with the loss of crew members later this week.

Seven laps after the last caution, the yellow flag came out again when Josh Berry(4) spun off turn two. The on-track incidents and cautions jumbled the line-up at the front.

Josh Berry(4) goes around / NASCAR Photo

Back to green flag racing, Hamlin led the field. Truex ran second, Gilliland third, Reddick fourth, and Ross Chastain(1) completed the top five.

Cautions breed cautions, and Josh Berry confirmed that as he spun again in turn two on lap 136. When racing resumed, the field could not complete a lap before Michael McDowell spun in turn four at the front of the pack on lap 142.

With multiple cautions, drivers are taking advantage of the free pass to gain a lap back. With the McDowell incident, Kyle Larson was in the lucky dog position and got one of his two laps back. He is the only driver just one lap down, and if another caution happens while he holds that position, he will be back on the lead lap.

Restarting with 16 laps to go, Chastain led. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47), Erik Jones(43), Bubba Wallace(23), and Brad Keselowski(6) followed, leading the pack to the green flag.

Chastain held on for the Stage win, his first of the year, and several drivers not often seen in the top ten grabbed Stage points.

Kyle Larson returned to the lead lap when the Stage-ending caution flag waved.

Results of Stage Two

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 1 Ross Chastain 10
2 23 Bubba Wallace 9
3 12 Ryan Blaney* 8
4 43 Erik Jones 7
5 14 Chase Briscoe* 6
6 6 Brad Keselowski* 5
7 21 Harrison Burton* 4
8 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 3
9 54 Ty Gibbs 2
10 9 Chase Elliott 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

The Final Stage

Bubba Wallace stayed out and inherited the lead when the field headed to pit road. Chase Briscoe(14) was first off pit road, followed by Harrison Burton(21) and Ty Gibbs. After taking the green flag, it was three wide between Briscoe, Wallace, and Burton for the lead.

Wallace got loose and spun, taking Briscoe with him, and the caution waved again.

Restarting on lap 178, Burton, Reddick, Hamlin, and Elliott brought the pack to green.

On lap 181, Nemecheck and Blaney got into the wall at separate points on the track. Causing the 10th caution of the afternoon. There were no takers among the leaders when the pit road opened.

With 75 laps to go, Reddick led, followed by Hamlin, Elliott, William Byron(24), and Zane Smith(71). Kyle Larson was 25th, trying to work his way back to the front through dirty air and traffic.

Pit stops began with 60 laps to go, and it seemed everyone in the field was on a different cycle. Joey Logano(22) stayed out and was leading when the caution came out for another Nemechek wreck.

The caution allowed for all stops to cycle through, and positions swapped again.

Back under green with 25 laps to go, the top five were Elliott, Hamlin, Reddick, and Chastain. Larson had worked his way back into the top 20.

As the laps wound down, Hamlin drove to the lead, Reddick got loose, dropping several positions, and Stenhouse spun in turn two with 14 laps to go. Setting up a sprint to the checkered flag.

The Finish

None of the leaders pitted with 31 cars on the lead lap. No one was willing to risk track position.

Hamlin lined up on the inside with Elliott beside him. Keselowski and Chastain sat in row two. The race restarted with 8 laps to go. Larson got stacked up back in the pack and spun off turn two. Elliott was out front when the caution waved, and he will have the first choice of which lane to restart in.

Elliott chose the inside lane, and Hamlin went to the high side. Chastain went behind Elliott, and Keselowski lined up behind Hamlin. There will be four laps to go when the green flag waves. It has been 42 races since Chase Elliott captured a checkered flag and 106 since Keselowski visited victory lane.

Racing side-by-side, Elliott pulled ahead in turn three. Hamlin spun in turn four, sending the race into NASCAR Overtime.

Elliott chooses the bottom lane again, and Chastain moves up next to him. Keselowski will push Elliott and Byron joins the top four behind Chastain.

Elliot again pulls out front as Kaz Grala(15) and Harrison Burton tangle off turn two. Overtime #2 has them lined up in the same spots.

Elliott pulls away and takes the white flag to make it an official race. Byron passes Keselowski and puts a bumper to the rear of Chastain off turn two on the final lap. Chastain spins, Keselowski takes second, and Byron finished in third-place.

Ross Chastain was credited with a 32nd-place finish.

The race featured 16 caution flags, a new record for a 1.5-mile track in the Cup Series.

The series moves to Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday, and The Lasco Press will provide live coverage from NASCAR’s longest oval track.

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 William Byron 297 In Win(3)
2 Denny Hamlin 307 In Win(2)
3 Kyle Larson 336 In Win
4 Chase Elliott 303 In Win
5 Christopher Bell 244 In Win
6 Daniel Suarez 210 In Win
7 Martin Truex Jr. 318 +101
8 Ty Gibbs 280 +63
9 Ryan Blaney 278 +61
10 Tyler Reddick 269 +52
11 Bubba Wallace 255 +38
12 Ross Chastain 247 +30
13 Chase Briscoe 231 +14
14 Alex Bowman 228 +11
15 Chris Buescher 226 +9
16 Kyle Busch 217 Tie
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Joey Logano 217 Tie
18 Brad Keselowski 216 -1
19 Erik Jones 176 -41
20 John Hunter Nemechek 160 -57
21 Austin Cindric 157 -60
22 Carson Hocevar 152 -65
23 Michael McDowell 151 -66
24 Ryan Preece 137 -80
25 Todd Gilliland 132 -85

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Results of the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 9 Chase Elliott 276
2 6 Brad Keselowski 0.558 276
3 24 William Byron 0.678 276
4 45 Tyler Reddick 0.948 276
5 99 Daniel Suarez 1.425 276
6 14 Chase Briscoe 2.079 276
7 3 Austin Dillon 2.310 276
8 23 Bubba Wallace 2.769 276
9 8 Kyle Busch 3.106 276
10 77 Carson Hocevar 3.324 276
11 22 Joey Logano 3.551 276
12 41 Ryan Preece 3.889 276
13 54 Ty Gibbs 4.080 276
14 19 Martin Truex Jr. 4.443 276
15 16 Ty Dillon 4.571 276
16 10 Noah Gragson 5.140 276
17 31 Daniel Hemric 5.236 276
18 17 Chris Buescher 5.558 276
19 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 6.352 276
20 5 Kyle Larson 6.704 276
21 15 Kaz Grala 6.979 276
22 43 Erik Jones 7.253 276
23 20 Christopher Bell 7.379 276
24 71 Zane Smith 7.401 276
25 7 Corey LaJoie 7.945 276
26 84 Jimmie Johnson 8.087 276
27 2 Austin Cindric 8.114 276
28 51 Justin Haley 8.846 276
29 21 Harrison Burton 9.429 276
30 11 Denny Hamlin 10.094 276
31 38 Todd Gilliland 10.537 276
32 1 Ross Chastain DNF 275
33 12 Ryan Blaney -8 268
34 42 John Hunter Nemechek -50 226
35 34 Michael McDowell -133 143
36 4 Josh Berry -140 136
37 48 Alex Bowman -176 100
38 33 Austin Hill -178 98