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

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LA Post: Chase Elliott ends 42-race winless streak with overtime win in NASCAR Cup race at Texas
April 14, 2024
STEPHEN HAWKINS - AP

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Chase 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.

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 since Talladega in October 2022.

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.

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 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.

Hamlin, the only driver to lead laps in all nine races this season, became 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.

“I had the opportunity to take the lead and take control of the race. I just didn’t make it stick,” McDowell said. “It’s my fault that I spun. It’s not the track’s fault.”

That caution allowed first-stage winner Larson to get back one of the two laps he lost after an earlier penalty for a lost wheel on the track. Chastain went on to win the second stage.

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.

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Off to Talladega, where Kyle Busch won last April and reigning Cup champion Ryan 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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