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Toby's Take: Chase Elliott is Back and so is Texas Motor Speedway!

Chase Elliott emerged victorious for the first time in 560 days, and the Next Gen car put on a good race at Texas Motor Speedway. The driver and track are both back after rough times in recent years.


hero image for Toby's Take: Chase Elliott is Back and so is Texas Motor Speedway!

Sunday, at Texas Motor Speedway Chase Elliott scored his first win since October 2022. The win, which came with the perfect mixture of strategy and raw speed in his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, was the culmination of three consecutive top-five runs for Elliott.

As the si-reen at the Dawsonville Pool Room blared for all to hear, it may have been a warning shot for the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field; Elliott is officially back.

Chase Elliott, the sport's most popular driver, had suffered through a horrendous 12-month stretch in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Elliott missed six races early last year after suffering a broken leg in a snowboarding accident following a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway. When Elliott returned, he would become absent for another race after NASCAR suspended him for exacting revenge on Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Despite the setbacks, Elliott was still able to claw his way back into a position to be within striking distance of the Playoffs, but after a runner-up finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and running out of fuel a week later at Watkins Glen, Elliott found himself outside of the Playoffs for the first time in his NASCAR Cup Series career following a fourth-place effort at Daytona.

Elliott would claw back to finish 17th in the final championship standings, but questions had begun to swirl about whether the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series champion could seriously contend again in the Next Gen car.

Heading into Sunday's event at Texas Motor Speedway, Elliott had yet to score a top-five finish at a 1.5-mile intermediate in the Next Gen car era (2022 to now). But that all changed with his incredible run in Forth Worth. And just like that, the script is flipped on Elliott's future.

He's popular, and now, he's back in victory lane. Watch out, folks. Elliott is back.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

While I feel like Elliott, with his win at Texas, is officially back, I also feel like Texas Motor Speedway, a track that has been much-beleaguered for years, is also back.

The Next Gen car continues to show that it is the savior for the standard 1.5-mile intermediate ovals in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Sure, the car has dramatic issues when it comes to the product it puts on at road courses and short tracks, nobody can deny that, but what it has done is single-handedly save the bread and butter of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule -- the intermediates.

Drivers struggled all race long with cars that were on the ragged edge of grip, and the track surface at Texas Motor Speedway formed distinct bumps in Turn 4, which proved troublesome for drivers all race long.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Bubba Wallace, John Hunter Nemechek, and Denny Hamlin, no real slouches in the bunch, were the drivers that were sent spinning by the bump in Turn 4.

And while Turn 4 plagued drivers throughout Sunday's race, Turn 2 at Texas -- one of the toughest in the sport due to the transition to the nearly flat backstretch on the exit of Turn 2, was a calamity corner for the majority of the weekend.

Texas Motor Speedway, which had been relegated to being a "boring cookie-cutter" track, was then seemingly ruined by a reconfiguration in 2017 when Speedway Motorsports opted to give the turns on each end of the facility different levels of banking.

After a race that produced 16 cautions, and 23 lead changes on Sunday, Texas Motor Speedway no longer looks like a bad option on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and we have the Next Gen car to thank for that. While we've had the bad shows at the short tracks in recent weeks to blame for the new car, we would be remiss if we didn't give the car it's proper kudos this week.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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