Chase Elliott ends 42-race winless streak with overtime victory in NASCAR Cup race at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Chase Elliott had to get through a few extra laps after 18 months since last winning a race.

Elliott pulled ahead and cleared Ross Chastain on the first lap after the second restart in overtime Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, ending a 42-race winless streak for NASCAR’s most popular driver.

“A lot of things went on our way today. I’m not naive to that,” Elliott said. ”You have to be in the mix and you’ve got to be up front to even have things go your way. And we were close enough to do that.”

The race ended on the 16th caution after Elliott had taken the white flag for the 276th lap in a race scheduled for 267 laps. Chastain got bumped from behind by defending race winner William Byron, who finished third and was just behind Brad Keselowski when the final yellow flag came out.

It was the fifth win this season for Hendrick Motorsports, the 306th for NASCAR’s winningest team, but the first for Elliott in the No. 9 Chevrolet since Talladega in October 2022.

“The longer it goes and the more ways you find to either not run good or lose races, you know it can make it tougher,” Elliott said. “It’s been an extremely important thing to me … to try to climb this mountain again together and try to get back to where we need to be as a group.”

Elliott and Denny Hamlin were at the front of the field after a restart with two laps left in regulation, and they were racing all-out when Hamlin got loose on the outside going into Turn 4 and went hard into the wall, bringing out the 14th caution and sending the race to overtime.

“Trying go for the win … got loose and spun out,” said Hamlin, the only driver to lead laps in all nine races this season.

That was the second restart in the last 10 laps of regulation, with Hamlin leading on the previous one before Elliott edged ahead about the same time that another caution came out when polesitter Kyle Larson wrecked after a crowded four-wide jumble back in the field.

On the first restart in overtime, Elliott was on the inside and took a hard shove from Keselowski, but Harrison Burton was wrecked within a half lap.

In NASCAR’s only stop this season at the 1 1/2-mile Texas Motor Speedway, which for the first time in 20 years won’t host a fall playoff race, there were 13 different leaders.

Keselowski has now gone 107 races since his last win at Talladega in April 2021, and still looking for his first win with RFK Racing, a team he co-owns.

“The driver in me is frustrated because I feel like these are races I am good enough to win but don’t have the speed enough to do it,” Keselowski said. “The owner in me is mad as hell because it is my fault for not making the cars faster.”

Hamlin was the third driver to wreck when running second in the race, and all of those came in the same area of the track. Chastain became the fourth to crash from the No. 2 spot.

Michael McDowell was racing for the lead when he went through bumps in Turn 4 while on the outside of Chastain while racing for the lead on lap 142. The No. 34 Ford spun and slammed hard into the wall, and Chastain went on to win the second stage.

“It’s my fault that I spun. It’s not the track’s fault,” McDowell said.

Burton had taken the lead after going inside on lap 173 and getting three-wide off the backstretch with Bubba Wallace and Chase Briscoe, who were running up front after not pitting during the caution at the end of the second stage. Wallace got loose, moved up and made contact with Briscoe.

LARSON’S LOST WHEEL

Larson won the first stage and led 77 laps before a lugnut came loose and the right rear wheel came off the No. 5 Chevrolet on lap 116. He had to serve a two-lap penalty after getting the wheel replaced, and went on to finish 21st. He led 99 laps at Texas last fall before spinning into the wall with 85 laps left.

FORD STILL WINLESS

Ford had the last two Cup champions, but still doesn’t have a win in its new Mustang this season. Reigning champion Ryan Blaney got the last race win for Ford last October at Martinsville.

JJ SPINS

Jimmie Johnson’s spin out of the fourth turn onto the frontstretch on lap 50 brought out the first caution. The seven-time Cup champion, who now runs a very limited schedule, holds TMS records with seven wins and 1,152 laps. His 36th start at Texas was his first there in the No. 84 Toyota for the Legacy Motor Club team for which he is a co-owner.

UP NEXT

Off to Talladega, where Kyle Busch won last April and Blaney won a playoff race in October, the week after leaving Texas. The last driver with back-to-back wins at Talladega was Blaney, in the 2019 fall race and the following June in a race pushed back by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/hub/nascar-racing

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