American Racing

NASCAR: Red Flag Gives a Win to Chase Elliott at Bizarre COTA GP

Chase Elliott has made history.

The greatest season ever once again reached uncharted territories for stock cars. This time, they made a trip to Texas, a state the series knows very well to race a track they did not: Circuit of the Americas. Chase Elliott got the best out of a bizarre race and marked his name in COTA’s history books.

Big Boys Play in Big Rain at the Big State

Race got underway with a massive left turn off the first corner in the rain, that was followed by quite a bit of spraying as not often you get 40 cars packed into the Circuit of the Americas. First turn wasn’t kind to pole sitter Tyler Reddick, he lost the first spot to a very sneaky Cole Custer who went from third to the top.

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Many drivers misjudged mother nature and were forced to pit as early as the end of lap one. Joey Logano, Cole Custer, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, and a few more. All of them went from slicks to rain tires to withstand the weather. Yes, this was not a race for positions so far, it was purely about survival.

We hadn’t had a caution in the first 15 lap stage that was until Daniel Suarez’s car decided to shut down in the middle of the track with 8 to go. It took four laps for the race to get going and Joey Logano wasted no time as he gained the lead off of turn one.

Logano, partially due to being at the front of the pack, survived the first set of laps and brought his Mustang home for the Playoff point. Next stage wouldn’t be as easy for him, frankly, it wouldn’t be easy for anyone.

A Bunch of Ducks that Couldn’t Swim

Stage two made cars look like ducks rather than race cars. Texas rain was coming down and it was coming down hard, ducks, of course, struggled to swim. Size difference between Cup Series and Formula cars is quite obvious, nonetheless, it was even more evident today. Rain spray turned into thunderstorms and NASCAR’s single wiper just didn’t do the job.

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There were two key collisions. One: Harvick got caught from behind as he let off the gas because he couldn’t find the breaking point. Other cars couldn’t see him stop and crashed right into him. Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace and, Harvick himself were out of the race.

Two: Martin Truex Jr. hit the brakes coming into turn one, everyone to his right braked alongside him, Custer running behind him couldn’t see anything and did not stop at all. He slammed into the back of the 78 and literally lift its rear wheels off the ground. Custer followed through to hit the wall, hard. Then, and only then did NASCAR bring out the red flag.

“You can’t see anything out there”

“The only way to describe it is you can’t see anything out there,” said Truex Jr. when FOX Sports asked him to describe the incident after coming out of COTA’s medical center. By this time, it was obvious race could not go on, and yet, there was no word from race control.

Red turned into a yellow after a thirty-minute red flag and cars were rolling again. Fortunately, rain seemed to give drivers a break, and the race restarted with 6 laps to go. Kyle Busch found himself and a tough battle with road course specialist Austin Cindric. Track limits were expanded for stock cars and most of the sand was cleared off to expose the asphalt. Busch used every bit of it to make room between him, Cindric, and Chase Elliott to get the second Playoff point of the evening.

Right Place at the Right Time

The last 36 laps kicked off on a dry-ish track that was kind to the drivers for the first time in the race. Busch was running away from the pack, 4.7 seconds ahead of second place. Cindric was no longer his escort down in second as he dropped a few spots all the way down to sixth. This, however, was as much of a race against nature as it was against each other. Race had to be done with before rain knocked on COTA’s door once again.

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The race had a couple of spins, both of them on the last corner before the start/finish line. Brad Keselowski spun himself and Ricky Stenhouse, luckily for them, there was no caution as everyone managed to stop and drive around them. Quinn Houff did the same minutes later. He was left parking inside the isle of grass so he just watched everyone go by before rejoining the track. Other than that, race stayed clean up to that point.

Visibility turned scarce once again late in the third stage. Chase Elliott had the lead by the time cars were called up to pit lane and drivers allowed to climb out of their cars. Shortly after that, the weather caution turned into a full race stop. Race control had no clear way to end the race with 14 laps to go.

Race was ended under the second red flag ten minutes after cars were covered with tarps. Chase Elliott was at the right place and the right time as he was declared the winner of the first-ever Echo Star Texas Grand Prix

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What’s Next for NASCAR?

Having passed the midway point of the season, the Cup Series will now head to Charlotte for the longest race of the year. 600 miles and 400 laps at the Coca-Cola 400 from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Missed last week’s race? Check it out HERE

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