Chase Elliott earned another road-course victory after an early conclusion to the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.
Elliott, who had won of four of the last five road-course races, looked to claim a fifth as he led the field by 10 seconds with 17 laps to go, but there was lots of uncertainty about how long he could last on fuel—or if he would even have to amid worsening weather conditions.
Luckily for him, NASCAR decided to throw the red flag for rain and standing water and send cars into pit road, solving Elliott's fuel problem with 14 laps to go.
The race was eventually called early. With Elliott's win and a second-place finish from Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports finished in the top two spots for the second consecutive week.
That red flag came shortly after Kurt Busch expertly avoided a collision with his younger brother Kyle and Austin Dillon:
But that was hardly the first issue of the afternoon. Joey Logano—who won NASCAR's first dirt race of the year at Bristol Motor Speedway—won a calm first stage, but weather conditions forced a red flag amid a collision-filled second stage.
Christopher Bell, who came away with the win at NASCAR's last road outing in Daytona, was forced out early for the second time this season after he wrecked on the 19th lap. Speaking to the Fox broadcast team after he was cleared by the medical team, he cited poor conditions as part of what led to the crash.
Kevin Harvick, who was involved in the wreck, tried to continue on but was told to stop by officials as his car was leaking oil. It was the first time he hadn't finished since 2019, when he left Bristol early.
Like Bell, Harvick was not a fan of the racing conditions:
A collision between Cole Custer and Martin Truex Jr. forced a red flag on the 26th lap. Both drivers got out safely.
The view from Harvick's in-car camera highlighted the lack of visibility on the track:
And Custer joined the chorus of drivers questioning NASCAR's decision to continue the race, chiming in on Twitter while things continued on without him:
At the time of the first red flag, Ross Chastain had the lead over Ryan Preece, Kyle Busch, Austin Cindric and Elliott. Things got going again as conditions started to lighten up, but single-file restarts were put into place to ensure the safety of the drivers after a crash-filled start to the second stage.
Kyle Busch ended up coming away with the victory on the second stage.
The weather was calmer for the start of the third stage, but as things came down to the end, water started to impact the race again.
Before things got started, Denny Hamlin found himself in trouble. He was forced to drop to the back of the field from the 19th position because of unapproved adjustments.
Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe were also among the nine cars sent to the back at the start.
While the weather put a damper on things, it turned out to be a special day for Elliott nonetheless, as he picked up his first win of the season.