It was probably just a matter of time before Chase Elliott scored his first win of the season and it is only fitting it was at another road course. NASCAR had two races this season which were really big PR moves and both nearly failed due to driver visibility issues. Both the inaugural Bristol dirt race and the COTA were stopped when visibility became so bad that drivers were put into positions where they literally could not see past the hood of their cars. Only sheer luck saved anyone from being seriously hurt, especially at the COTA race.
The long backstretch at COTA put cars at nearly 160 mph in the rain crashing into each other. When a driver is exiting his ruined car and the others coming behind him on the track can’t see anything that is a dangerous situation. Lap 25 saw the scariest wreck after Martin Truex, Jr. got into Michael McDowell. Truex slowed to avoid further damage since he couldn’t see, but Cole Custer was flying through the rain, didn’t see the slowed Truex and submarined him and then slammed into the barrier. You really can’t blame Custer since he was running the outside line to stay out of the rooster tail from cars directly in front of him.
Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the scary wrecks and NASCAR finally stopped the race to get the air titans in action to remove enough water to resume the race. Mother Nature decided to cooperate a bit as the rain lessened but the weather got decidedly worse as the race went on with heavier rain and dark skies limiting visibility once again and cars were hydroplaning on the straightaway.
At that point, Chase Elliott was going to be short on fuel which was going to be interesting had the race been able to continue. Cars were on different strategies and it was looking like Kyle Larson, Joey Logano or Ross Chastain might grab the checkers if there wasn’t going to be any cautions.
In one of the more entertaining moments, Kurt Busch ran off course after somehow threading the needle between two cars as he hydroplaned between them. His experience showed as he drove through the gravel, into the grass, spun around and kept in the throttle as he drove through the wet grass and back onto the course.
All in all, COTA is a great, historic track and a real challenge for stock cars but better off run dry, not wet. The rain makes the race basically unwatchable and it is just too dangerous for drivers. Let’s hope NASCAR does better next time.
Kyle Busch Watch
After narrowly missing getting taken out by his brother as mentioned above, Kyle finished 10th after running near the front for a while. Considering the track conditions, coming home with a Top 10 isn’t too bad.
Good on ya mate
Tyler Reddick grabbed his first pole and the first on a road course for RCR since Dale Earnhardt in 1996 at Watkins Glen. Reddick was fought hard all race long and finished P9.
Kyle Larson (P2) may have had the winning car had the race not been called for rain.
Ross Chastain (P4) was tenacious on track and led 4 laps.
AJ Allmendinger (P5) is always a threat on a road course and it would have been fun to see him what the Dinger could have done had the course been dry.
Chase Briscoe (P6) and Michael McDowell (P7) finished well with McDowell leading 3 laps.
Chris Buescher (P13) grabbed another Top 15 finish as he continues to put together a decent season.
So you had a bad day
Daniel Suarez (P33) had mechanical issues that put him several laps down early but he came back to finish as the last car running.
Bubba Wallace (P39), Christopher Bell (P38), Kevin Harvick (P37), Cole Custer (P36) and Martin Truex, Jr. (P35) all retired due to wrecks. Truex was the only one to have led any laps during the race.
Next up, NASCAR goes back to its roots at Charlotte before heading to another road course we are all familiar with, Sonoma. Then on June 13, the All Star race at Texas.
What’s your thoughts on NASCAR’s races at COTA? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Meh? Let me know in the comments below!
Drive fast, turn left (and right) and keep the shiny side up.
(Photo by Jim Fluharty/HHP for Chevy Racing)