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Chase Elliott Scores a Texas-Sized Win, breaking 42-race winless streak

Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Hooters Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 14, 2024 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott breaks 42-race winless streak, and brings longtime NASCAR Sponsor Hooters, to victory lane at Texas Motor Speedway. It comes as the race itself ties the track record for the number of cautions.

It was a wild day at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday. The Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 400, saw a tie for the most cautions ever in track history, with sixteen cautions. The driver who survived the calamity was Chase Elliott. Elliott and the #9 Team survived the overtime restarts to secure his first win in 42 races. His sponsor, Hooters, also made their return to victory lane, last going there with Alan Kulwicki in 1992.


Chase Elliott’s 42 Race Winless Streak:

A Poor 2023 Season:

Not since Talladega in 2022, have we seen Chase Elliott and the #9 Chevy in victory lane. In 2023, while snowboarding, he broke his leg, right before the Las Vegas race. Josh Berry drove the car in his place, earning three top-ten finishes. Then a suspension from intentionally wrecking Denny Hamlin at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Coke 600 saw Corey LaJoie drive in Elliott’s place.

All these circumstances led to the #9 team missing the 2023 NASCAR Playoffs, but they did secure a seventeenth-place points finish, the highest of the non-playoff cars.

2024 Season So Far:

The 2024 season started slow, in the first four races, his highest finishing position was twelfth at Las Vegas. Bristol saw an eighth-place finish, and then sixteenth at Circuit of the Americas. The short track run of Richmond and Martinsville saw back-to-back top-five finishes. So coming into Texas there was momentum for the team.

The Autotrader Echo Park 400:

Qualifying at Texas was not what the team had planned, twenty-fourth. Slowly, Chase began to work himself towards the front of the field with the help of a caution for a spinning Jimmie Johnson. He finished seventh in the first stage and 10th in stage two.

Chase took the lead in stage three from Tyler Reddick and fought off the 23XI Co-owner Denny Hamlin for the victory. Hamlin and Elliott would duel on two restarts, with Elliott getting the lead when Kyle Larson and Zane Smith made contact in turn two. The second restart would see Hamlin spin battling for the lead, not from contact but from driving the car too deep into the corner. Elliott would hold off the field on the final restart, and the caution and checkered flags would wave when Ross Chastain and William Byron made contact on the back straight.

In his victory burnout and ‘Polish victory lap’ he gave a heartfelt tribute to owner-driver Alan Kulwicki. Kulwicki won the 1992 Championship over Chase’s father, Bill Elliott. Tragically, Alan would be killed in a plane crash in 1993. With Alan’s former sponsor, Hooters, on the car, Elliott said in the media center following the race “it’s been a dream to pay respect to Alan Kulwicki, do a Polish victory lap in the Hooter’s colors. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just have not had the opportunity to do that.

This was Elliott’s nineteenth win, fifth for Hendrick Motorsports this year. The team celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year has three of its four Chevrolets in the playoffs.

How Will Chase Perform at Talladega?

While a slow start does not doom a season, winning locks you into the playoffs. I see the #9 Team being quite strong these next few races. Elliott has two victories at Talladega, and Hendrick has a win at Daytona. Hendrick traded the pole position they have normally won, for strong runs in the duels to put them higher in the grid with cars able to get to the front and lead.

Expect them maybe to not qualify so great, but have a car that can drive through the pack, get up front, and lead races. Talladega is a wild card, but Chase has two victories there so he can manage the uncertainty.

Chase Elliott will race the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, on Sunday, April 21st. Coverage will begin at 3 PM ET on Fox.




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