Date: May 23, 2021
Event: Inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix (Round 14 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas (3.426-mile, 20-turn road course)
Format: 68 laps, broken into three stages (15 laps/17 laps/36 laps)
Start/Finish: 33rd / 21st (Running, completed 54 of 54 laps)
Note: Race shortened 14 laps from its scheduled 68-lap distance due to heavy rain.
Race Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-15):
● Ty Dillon started 33rd and finished 37th.
● It began to rain just as the race started, but Dillon was one of the last holdouts to switch from slicks to rain tires. His first four tours around the 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course came on slicks.
● With rain tires on the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry, Dillon methodically worked his way forward, climbing to 16th before making a scheduled, green-flag pit stop for new tires and fuel on lap 13.
● With various pit strategies playing out, this put Dillon back in 37th, which is where he finished the stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 16-32):
● Dillon started 22nd and finished 27th.
● Having pitted prior to the end of the first stage, Dillon was able to keep his No. 96 Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry out on the racetrack and gain some valuable track position as his counterparts pitted. This allowed Dillon to restart in 22nd.
● With rain inundating the track, there was a rash of incidents that took out a handful of cars. Dillon stayed above the fray and kept his Toyota pointed straight, climbing to 13th for a lap-25 restart.
● A big crash on lap 26 resulted in a red flag. Dillon was uninvolved, and when racing resumed on lap 29, Dillon lined up 10th.
● The track, however, was still incredibly wet, and Dillon had to tip-toe around the undulating layout to ensure he stayed on track. While prudent, this dropped Dillon to 16th by lap 30 and then 27th by the end of the stage.
● “These tires are like, burned off,” said Dillon at the completion of the stage, whereupon he pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge adjustment to both the left-rear and right-rear corners of his racecar.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 33-54):
● Dillon started 27th and finished 21st.
● Dillon had the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry up to 19th by lap 40, but the car’s handling seemed off, to the point where Dillon keyed the mic and asked if all the tires were tight. Given the affirmative, he pressed on.
● On lap 45, Dillon made a scheduled, green-flag pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. This returned him to the track in 27th.
● Dillon clawed his way back to 21st by lap 54 but, at the same time, the rain had picked up, making visibility an issue. NASCAR brought the field down pit road on lap 55 and then put out the red flag to halt the race. As the heavy rain persisted, NASCAR was forced to call the race official 14 laps short of its originally scheduled 68-lap distance.
● Chase Elliott won the inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix to score his 12th career NASCAR Cup Series victory and his first of the season. The race ended under caution due to heavy rain.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 14 laps.
● Thirty-one of the 40 drivers in the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix finished on the lead lap.
● Denny Hamlin remains the championship leader after COTA with a 98-point advantage over second-place William Byron.
Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 96 Bass Pro Shops/Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry:
“You’re just learning and adapting the whole time as the rain strengthens and weakens, so it’s a moving target. But there, the last 15 or 20 laps, I really found the groove. Really ran some good laps and wish we could’ve kept racing and ran some more. I think we could’ve had an even better finish. Proud of where we ended up. We had a couple issues on pit road that kind of got us behind and that loose wheel kind of put us behind on that last-stage restart. Grateful for the opportunity and thankful to Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee Company.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 30 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!