Chase Elliott Claims Cowboy Hat in a Texas Gladiator Munera

FORT WORTH, Texas – Texas Motor Speedway was a gladiator “survival of the fittest” test for the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday, and Chase Elliott rose to the occasion to grab his first victory since 2022.

The 2020 Cup Series champion and NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver stood in the middle ring for a triple overtime closing, fending off hot pursuits of Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski and teammate William Byron.

A side-by-side battle with Hamlin triggered the first overtime when Hamlin lost control and crashed into the Turn 4 wall. On the third and final attempt, the run to the checkered flag was cut short when Chastain was hit by Byron on the exit of Turn 2 and spun down the backstretch. Hamlin would finish 30th, and Chastain would DNF in 32nd for the Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 400.

“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.”

After video and timing review by NASCAR, officials declared that Keselowski was ahead of Byron for the runner-up position at the time of caution, the 16th of the three-and-a-half-hour race. Keselowski, who struggled early in the race, used pit strategy to claw his way toward the front with a chance at the victory. It was his fourth second-place result since his last win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in the spring of 2021, the race that the series will visit next.

“We didn’t have a ton of speed, I was more frustrated than anything because I feel like we have a great team and we don’t have the speed to go with it and we’re doing all we can do to overcome that,” Keselowski said, adding. “So proud of the team for the pit stops, the strategy and the execution [today].”

Byron, three-time winner this season, finished third, with 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez rounding out the top five.

Chase Briscoe grabs his fourth top 10 of the year with his sixth place finish. Bubba Wallace, who led five laps earlier in the day, came back from a spin to finish seventh. Austin Dillon outmatched his Richard Childress Racing teammate Kyle Busch. Carson Hocevar earned his first career top 10 finish with Spire Motorsports in his No. 77 Premier Security Chevrolet Camaro.

The NASCAR Cup Series moves East 700 miles for next Sunday’s GEICO 500 at the famed Talladega Superspeedway (3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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