N News & Results

DAVISON: Elliott declared the winner of a red-flagged Texas washout at COTA

Austin, TX, May 23/21 (by John Davison): Chase Elliott became a winner for the first time in 2021 after a late race heavy rain squall with standing water on the straights at Circuit of the Americas forced NASCAR to throw a red flag over the EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix after spray from the tires resulted in zero visibility for the drivers. The red flag was replaced with the checkered flag, handing Elliott his first win of the 2021 season, with fellow Hendrick racer Kyle Larson second, Penske's Joey Logano third, Ross Chastain fourth and AJ Allmendinger fifth.Austin, TX, May 23/21 (by John Davison): Chase Elliott became a winner for the first time in 2021 after a late race heavy rain squall with standing water on the straights at Circuit of the Americas forced NASCAR to throw a red flag over the EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix after spray from the tires resulted in zero visibility for the drivers. The red flag was replaced with the checkered flag, handing Elliott his first win of the 2021 season, with fellow Hendrick racer Kyle Larson second, Penske's Joey Logano third, Ross Chastain fourth and AJ Allmendinger fifth.
With the start under a sprinkle but the track basically dry, NASCAR declared the inaugural Texas Grand Prix as a "wet" race, meaning that the teams had the choice of starting the race on slicks or rain tires. The field entered the track for pace laps on rain tires but under the conditions, were allowed to stop on pit road and mount slicks without losing their starting positions, something the entire 40-car field opted to do except for Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr, ‘Bubba’ Wallace and both JTG-Daugherty cars, who started the race on rain tires with the radar images showing rain approaching.
Austin Cindric, William Byron and Allmendinger got to the front by the exit of the first turn but Byron was radioing back to the team saying the car needed 'different tires' on it, stopping on the second lap along with Logano and Elliott, followed by about half of the field.
Allmendinger and pole-winning Tyler Reddick both pitted on the third lap but Cindric stayed in the lead, still on slicks with a lead of over five seconds ahead of Saturday's Xfinity winner Kyle Busch until Busch stopped for rain tires.
Cindric pitted for rains with a lead over Truex of nearly seven seconds, with Truex inheriting the lead with McDowell, winner of the Daytona 500 this year, in pursuit. The slicks taken off of Cindric's No. 33 Mustang barely looked used except for the extreme edges of the front tires.
Lap seven had the first caution flag fly, thanks to Daniel Suarez' car jamming in neutral and stopping on the track. McDowell was leading Wallace and Ricky Stenhouse while Cindric had moved up to fourth, with the top three staying on the track.
McDowell led the field out of the first turn with Joey Logano jumping into second and Cindric up to third with Byron advancing to fourth.
Logano drove around McDowell for the lead, holding it to the end of the first stage, over McDowell, Kurt Busch, Larson and Cindric. A couple of laps before the stage ended, Matt DiBenedetto had a bad wheel hop entering a turn and slammed into the right rear of Byron's car, resulting in a flat right rear tire on Byron's car. The pit stop to replace the tire and pull some sheet metal clear dropped Byron to the last car on the lead lap.
Logano, Kurt Busch and McDowell headed the restart with Kyle Busch taking third from McDowell but a multi-car incident that appeared to begin when Kevin Harvick slowed early due to heavy spray and got run into from behind. The incident was at least coincident with Wallace, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell all having 'an incident' that later GPS and TV broadcast analysis described as: Blaney slowed due to visibility problems, Bell ran into Blaney, Harvick slowed for the incident and Wallace ran into the back of Harvick. Harvick went to the garage for his first DNF since Bristol in August of 2019.

PHOTO COTA NCS TRUEX VISIBILITYThe view out Truex' windshield (moiré pattern is an artifact of the TV screen)
Logano, Kyle Busch, Elliott and Chastain filled the front two rows on the restart with Chastain getting the lead followed by Ryan Preece, who took advantage of a slip by Chastain to take the lead in the Esses. Not a lap into the green, Truex got run into by Cole Custer, after Truex hit McDowell, flipping the hood up and blocking his view. Custer drove into the back of Truex, almost lifting the car completely off the ground. 
The race was red-flagged to allow the Air Titans to blow some of the water off the straight. Harvick, Truex and Custer all commented about the lack of visibility in the heavy traffic on a restart. 
A very upset Kevin Harvick said: “It’s the most unsafe thing I’ve ever done in a race car by a lot.  You can’t see anything down the straightaways.  These cars were not built to run in the rain and when you can’t see, my spotter said, ‘Check up, check up,’ because he thought he saw two cars wrecking.  I let off and the guy behind me hit me wide-open because he never saw me.  It’s unbelievable that we’re out there doing what we’re doing because we’re in race cars that aren’t made to do this, and if you can’t see going down the straightaway it’s absolutely not safe, not even close.
“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.”
Custer's comments were somewhat along the same line: “I’m all good.  It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it was gonna be, but it’s just that you can’t see anything.  It’s pretty bad.  I mean, you can’t see a foot in front of your car.  I was just rolling down the backstretch.  You can’t see anything.  I’m just so frustrated about having our day end like this.  It killed the car and it’s just really frustrating. 
“You just can’t see anything on that backstretch.  I think the same thing happened to us at the same time, somebody was going slower and by the time you want to slow down, they’re in your front bumper so there’s no chance of you even missing it.  It’s just so frustrating.  We just wanted a good run and it’s just not fair to all our guys and everybody at SHR to have a destroyed race car for really no good reason.  It’s frustrating, but we’ll move on to the next one.”
When the race restarted, crews had been allowed to 'service' the drivers with changes to improve visibility and all future restarts would be single-file.
Kyle Busch and Cindric passed Preece for the lead on the first lap under green, with Cindric then taking the lead from Busch before Busch repassed a couple of turns later. Busch altered his lines in the turns to be more like Cindric's and started to open up a gap as the stage ended with Elliott catching the lead pair and moving into second, followed by Reddick, then Cindric, Corey LaJoie for his first stage points of the season in fifth and Kyle Larson, Ryan Preece, Allmendinger, Chase Briscoe and Alex Bowman to close out the second stage.
Kyle Busch, Elliott and Reddick led to the green, with Cindric, Larson and Allmendinger next. Cindric dove inside Elliott for second place.
Green flag pit stops put Kyle Larson into the lead, with Joey Logano and Ross Chastain fighting for second until Chastain easily passed for second. Then Larson pitted out of the lead allowing Chastain to take the lead, until the entire field had pitted, when Elliott and Larson took over the top two spots.
With 14 laps left in the race, under a heavier rain and standing water on the track, NASCAR pulled the field into the pits under a red flag. A little while later, the decision was made to call the race official, giving Elliott his sixth road course win in 14 races. The win tied the Hendrick team with the Petty team (the Petty name that has been applied to a number of teams with different ownership) for 268 wins by the team and gave Chevrolet 800 victories in NASCAR Cup competition. The race also broke William Byron's streak of top ten finishes at eleven, the position he held at the finish. "I thought for sure we'd get a top ten," he said, explaining that the incident earlier had knocked the rear end out of alignment on his car.
• Click HERE for the Race Results
-30-

Popular News

top logo 2018

PRN Motorsport Magazine.

For Canadian Race Fans and Racers

Since 1989

Email:

Info@prnmag.com

Phone:

1-800-667-RACE

Social Links