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Elliott wins Texas thriller to break winless streak

By Holly Cain, /

Chase Elliott held off the field in a thrilling, wildly popular double-overtime victory in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday evening to earn his first victory in 42 starts — dating back to the 2022 season.

By no means was it an easy win for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion and the sport’s six-time-defending Most Popular Driver, but that’s part of what made it so special to the 28-year-old Georgia native. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet prevailed in three late-race restarts — including two in overtime — to claim his first NASCAR Cup Series win on the 1.5-mile Texas high banks and first trophy since a playoff victory at Talladega Superspeedway in October 2022.

“Oh man, it couldn’t feel any better,” said a smiling Elliott, who did a “reverse” victory lap around the track in homage to the late series champion Alan Kulwicki, whose car was also sponsored by the Hooters restaurant chain that Elliott’s car carried on Sunday.

“Couldn’t be any more grateful for this journey and the fact it hasn’t always been fun, but certainly, I have enjoyed working with our guys,” he continued. “We’ve been working really hard and really well together and that’s always been fun. We’ve enjoyed the fight together.”

RFK Racing co-owner/driver Brad Keselowski finished a season-best runner-up in a race that lasted more than three and a half hours and had a track-record 16 caution periods.

On a restart with two laps to go in regulation, Elliott and Denny Hamlin were vying for the lead side-by-side when Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota got loose and into the wall, putting the race into a two-lap overtime shootout. Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain started alongside Elliott but couldn’t pass him before another caution came out a lap into overtime, forcing another restart.

On that restart, Elliott got ahead of Chastain again and took the white flag signaling one lap to go, when Chastain was tagged from behind by Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron — officially ending the race. Chastain, who led 33 laps on the day, was credited with a 32nd-place finish. Hamlin, who led 37 laps, ended up 30th.

Elliott conceded the afternoon was a full-on day of drama and high competition. There were 23 lead changes among 13 drivers — seven of whom led double-digit laps.

“It was crazy,” he said. “And I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”

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