The debut of the Circuit of the Americas is officially in the books. Sadly there were a lot of problems following the race. The tough rainy weather caused many problems amongst drivers and fans. The drivers were not happy because they could not see and fans are now questioning if NASCAR should even run in the rain.
NASCAR had a lot to learn from this race and drivers and fans alike want answers following the controversial EcchoPark Texas Grand Prix at COTA.
Joey Logano Wins First-Ever Stage At COTA
Strategy was being played very early in stage one. When the green flag dropped it began to rain and on lap one drivers were already hitting pit road to change from the slicks to the wets.
The rain continued all day. Trouble struck for Daniel Suarez as his car stalled on the track and he would need a push from the tow truck back to the pits. With six laps remaining, Denny Hamlin spun out. However, this did not bring out a caution.
With 2 laps remaining trouble struck in turn one, Matt Dibenedetto locked his breaks and slammed into William Byron. This damaged both cars but no caution was needed or thrown. At the end of stage one, Joey Logano won the first-ever stage at COTA.
Kyle Busch Dominates Stage 2
On lap four, Ryan Newman had an issue when he spun out. He drove away with no problems. What was beginning to be a problem was visibility. This is where drivers started to take issue with running this race. Trouble struck in turn 12 when a 4 car wreck happened. Ryan Blaney was slammed into causing him to spin. Christopher Bell hit the wall ending his day. Visibility was an issue as Kevin Harvick lifted too early and was slammed into by Bubba Wallace. At this point, nobody can see anything and this is where problems began for NASCAR.
A scary crash happened not too long after as visibility caused this one. Michael McDowell checked up and Martin Truex Jr hit him causing him to check up only for Cole Custer to slam into Martin Truex Jr, This caused Custer’s engine to explode. Thankfully everyone was ok following that hit. This led to a red flag. That wreck is when NASCAR took action.
Once the red flag was lifted they brought everyone down to pit road and supplied teams with Rain-X. This would help clear the window and help drivers see better. There were no more issues and this led to an exciting finish. At the end of stage two, Kyle Busch won his first stage of the day.
Chase Elliott Earns Rain-Shortened Win At COTA
On lap 36 problems struck for Brad Keselowski spun out. He drove away and no caution was thrown. On lap 40 another spin happened when Tyler Reddick spun. He also drove away with no problem. With 19 laps to go Alex Bowman gave up the lead and Chase Elliott took the lead.
A caution nearly happened when Kurt Busch locked the breaks and nearly got stuck in the gravel pit. He was able to drive away and no caution was thrown. Once that happened with 14 laps to go NASCAR called the caution due to the track conditions.
There was a ton of standing water and rain was picking up. With the heavy rain cell moving towards Austin NASCAR decided to call the race. This gave Chase Elliott his first win of 2021 and his first since winning his championship.
This race showed NASCAR had a lot to learn. Drivers complained and fans did too. NASCAR has said that they will review everything that happened during the race to help fix these issues in the future. Otherwise, Chase Elliott also earned his first win of 2021 thanks to the rain because he would have not made it to the end due to fuel. He stayed out and it was the right call. Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series is a big weekend. The Coca-Cola 600 will take place next Sunday night. The longest race of the year is up next in a Memorial Day weekend special.