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Apr 12, 2024 6:10 pm

Chase Elliott close to ending drought as NASCAR heads to Texas

chase elliott

Winless through his past 42 races, Chase Elliott can almost taste Victory Lane after his strong showing last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway and probably does not want to leave Virginia.

Following a Cook Out 400 that was practically a coronation celebrating Hendrick Motorsports’ 40 years of winning, Elliott and his three teammates will head to Fort Worth for the series’ lone stop at Texas Motor Speedway when they run the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday afternoon.

The sport’s six-time winner of the Most Popular Driver Award, Elliott watched two of his stablemates — race winner William Byron and runner-up Kyle Larson — finish in front of him, but by bringing home his No. 9 Chevrolet in third, Elliott grabbed momentum heading to the Lone Star State.

That 1-2-3 team finish was the first-ever occurrence in 75 years of battling at the half-mile speedway, and Elliott said running as the leader for 64 laps brought back that familiar up-front feeling.

“Glad one of us (at Hendrick) got it done,” said Elliott, who had led just 23 circuits through the previous seven races. “Nice to have a couple of solid weeks, and to be there in contention for a win is — haven’t been in contention to win one in a while.”

The 28-year-old’s last triumph was Oct. 2, 2022, at Talladega.

Elliott recorded his second straight top-five of 2024, his total for the campaign.

“It was fun to get to that last restart and it actually mattered,” said the 2020 series champion, who finished fifth at Richmond on Easter. “I feel like throughout a lot of the season this year we’ve just been going in a very positive direction. If we keep producing that, we’ll get our turn one day.”

Elliott, who won at the tiny track during his title season, is one of the nine Hendrick drivers to record a win in the organization’s 29 Martinsville victories.

Added owner Rick Hendrick, “It was almost like divine intervention, just how in the world it all ended up like that on a day like that.”

Last Sept. 24 in Fort Worth, Byron won by topping Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace, the latter of whom won the pole and led a race-best 112 laps in the 11-caution event.

The victory gave Chevrolet its third straight win at the 1.5-mile track, and owner Richard Childress Racing has had a hand in winning races at the high-banked venue.

His cars driven by Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick won there in 2020 and 2022, respectively, while current RCR wheelman Kyle Busch secured the 2020 fall race in a Toyota owned by Joe Gibbs Racing.

After hosting two points races from 2005-20, the speedway lost one but was the site of the All-Star Race in 2021 and 2022.

In 2023, TMS — owned by the Fort Worth Sports Authority and operated by Speedway Motorsports Incorporated — saw the exhibition race move to SMI-owned North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway, where it will be held again on May 19.

–Field Level Media

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