Elliott was once again dominant in NASCAR’s first road course race of the 2021 season. He won Stage 1 and led 44 of 70 laps.
However, a Lap 57 caution for light rain changed the complexion of the race drastically though.
Elliott pitted from the lead but found himself behind nearly a dozen cars who did not. What followed was a series of fender-benders, off-road excursions and a spin that left him with a disappointing 21st place finish.
“When you have those late-race cautions like that and you have a mixed bag of who stays and who goes, it’s a bit of a gamble either way, I felt like,” said Elliott. “I thought tires was the right move. Tires won the race, so I think it was the right move. You get back in traffic and it just gets to be so chaotic, and then just depending on who gets through and who doesn’t kind of determines how it’s going to shake out.”
“I hate it. I made too many mistakes. We went off track and it was just a bad deal. We had a fast NAPA Chevy and I appreciate the effort. I hate it for Corey (LaJoie). He ran me off there, so I thought he was going to take the lane again, so I went to cross him over and I think that time he was actually going to give me the lane. So, go figure. But we’ll try again next week.”
Instead, Christopher Bell claimed his first victory as NASCAR opened its season with two first-time winners. Bell is the first driver besides Elliott to win a road course event at the Cup level since the 2019 Sonoma event won by Martin Truex Jr.