The NASCAR Cup Series made its debut on a rainy and very wet Circuit of the Americas Sunday. The EchoPark Texas Grand Prix had some big wrecks which caused some long cautions and even a red flag for a bit. COTA was the 14th race of the 2021 season and had some surprise leaders at the front for portions of the races. In the end, however, NASCAR’s road course ace, Chase Elliott, took home the win.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Chase Elliott Wins at Circuit of the Amercias
EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Stage 1
The drivers would initially leave pit road on wet tires, but before the green, the majority of the field opted to switch to slicks for the start of the race. Austin Cindric, who started third, would get to the lead in turn one. Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick quickly fell back to fifth on the first lap. Most teams made the decision to pit early to switch back to the wet tires. Cindric on the other hand stayed out and had an impressive drive until he decided to pit for the wet tires. Daniel Suarez had a problem and stalled out to bring out the first caution of the day. Matt DiBenedetto would wheel hop going into a corner and hit William Byron in the process. The incident caused damage to both cars and cut down the left rear tire of Byron’s car. Joey Logano managed to win the first stage.
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EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Stage 2
Joey Logano led the field back to the green for the start of Stage Two. On the first green flag lap of the stage, Ryan Newman spun in the esses, but no caution flew. Later, Christopher Bell, Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace, and Ryan Blaney would all take damage in a weird wreck. Bell, Harvick, and Wallace all had their days brought to an end as a result of this wreck. Harvick wasn’t shy about voicing his displeasure either.
On the first lap after the caution, Michael McDowell hit the brakes too soon and Martin Truex Jr. ran into the back of him. Then, Cole Custer hit Truex causing the No. 19 car to go on top of the No. 41! This led to the race being red-flagged to clean up the debris and dry off the track a bit. NASCAR made the call to switch to single-file restarts for the rest of the race. Kyle Busch eventually took the Stage 2 checkered.
EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Final Stage
The teams started to play the fuel mileage game in the final stage in order to figure out when they needed to pit to make it to the end of the race. Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott were the first to hit pit road on Lap 41. They were told that they would not be able to make it all the way to the end of the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix on fuel. Ross Chastain was having a solid run until he pitted on Lap 47 and gave up the lead.
Kyle Busch, who was attempting to save fuel, pitted to make sure he could finish the race. He came back out right alongside his brother, Kurt Busch, and Austin Dillon. In probably the closest near miss you will ever see, Kurt Busch missed the turn and somehow avoided both other cars. He kept his car in motion to keep it green.
NASCAR then decided to call a caution due to the amount of standing water on the Circuit of the Americas track. Ultimately, they decided to call the race due to rain and declared Chase Elliott the winner. The win would give Chevrolet manufacturer its 800th NASCAR Cup Series win and the Hendrick Motorsports team its 268th career win. This ties Hendrick with Petty Enterprises for the most by a race team in Cup Series history.
Final EchoPark Texas Grand Prix Thoughts
A lot of fans are going to be mad that NASCAR called this race, but it is probably for the best. After seeing what could happen on a slick track and with more rainfall imminent, the conditions were only going to get worse. Multiple drivers said that they had problems seeing in the rain which is certainly problematic. NASCAR needs to look into that for future reference.
Personally, I think what we saw in this weekend’s EchoPark Texas Grand Prix should put the rain tires on ovals debate to bed. If the drivers can’t even see when running in the rain on road courses, it will be much worse on the ovals.
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