Chase Elliott salutes the crowd after winning at Texas Motor Speedway. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

Dry Spell Over: Elliott Breaks Down Breakthrough Win

The dry spell for NASCAR’s most popular driver is finally over. 

Chase Elliott not only broke a 42-race winless streak during Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, he did it with authority. 

Elliott endured three late-race restarts, including two in overtime to seal the deal aboard the No.  9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

It all started with a daring three-wide move on a restart with 33 laps to go, which saw Elliott dive under Denny Hamlin and Tyler Reddick to take the point.

“I thought the race was over,” Elliott said of his three-wide pass. “I got the lead. On the restart, Tyler kind of left the bottom open there. I was shocked that he did. I just kind of felt like I needed to take that opportunity and go with it. Fortunately, that part worked out.”

While Hamlin quickly regained the top spot, Elliott got the better of the No. 11 Toyota on a restart with two laps to go. Hamlin wrecked while battling for the lead coming to the white flag. 

Two additional overtime restarts didn’t phase Elliott.

“Certainly having things go our way with the caution, having the lead, the pushing and shoving that went on, was in our favor on the closing restart,” Elliott said. 

“Yeah, it was fun to be a part of it. Like I said, you got to be in the mix to have a shot. You got to be in the mix to have things go your way. Nice to be in those front couple rows and be able to have a chance.”

The win was Elliott’s first since the fall of 2022 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, and his first top-five finish on a 1.5-mile race track since the Next Gen car was introduced.

“To me, honestly, this journey and everything about today is really a credit to the guys that sit in our meetings on Monday mornings in the 9 room,” Elliott reflected. “That starts with Alan (Gustafson, crew chief). As I mentioned a second ago, it’s really easy when things go bad to jump ship, go do something different, for those guys to go elsewhere. It just is. It happens a lot.

“It’s been an extremely important thing to me, and fortunately to our entire group, to try to climb this mountain again together and try to get back to where we need to be as a group.

Chase Elliott celebrates his victory at Texas Motor Speedway. (HHP/Jacy Norgaard)

“We’re not all together, but a lot of us are still there that have been on our team for most of my nine years. That’s pretty special,” Elliott continued.

“I look at it as a credit to them because I think they’ve made me better and they’ve pushed me to be better, helped me identify some of my faults and some of my bad habits, and been patient with me as I’ve addressed them, or at least started to.

“Again, as I referenced a second ago, I think I still have work to do, no doubt. We had a lot of stuff go our way today. But we’ve been back in the mix more often. That is certainly progress. I think that is worth being proud of.”

It was a special moment for Elliott for multiple reasons.

Along with putting his winless streak to rest, he also earned his first win with Hooters as the primary sponsor.

Paying tribute to the late Alan Kulwicki, who was also sponsored by Hooters during the 1990s and competed with Elliott’s father, Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott performed a polish victory lap around the speedway –like Kulwicki did after winning.

“Honestly, one of the coolest parts of the post-race for me, Hooters has been a great partner of ours for a number of years now, and it’s been a dream to pay respect to Alan Kulwicki, do a polish victory lap in the Hooters colors,” Elliott said. “That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and just have not had the opportunity to do that. Came close a few times.

“Yeah, as soon as the race was over, I was like, ‘Man, we finally got our opportunity to do it and pay respect to him and the partnership.’ Hooters has been around for a long time. Just kind of to see that whole deal come full circle with his championship run, outrunning my dad, they’re now a partner of mine, ended a long winless drought for them and myself, too, and our team.

“It’s really special in a lot of ways. Pretty fitting when you kind of look at it.”