Ross Chastain holds off AJ Allmendinger for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix on Sunday.
For the first road course race of 2022, the Circuit of the Americas put on a great event. After last year’s monsoon cut the race short, the course was able to show its true potential in great weather. This course is packed with 20 bruising corners that give drivers a challenge with holding momentum. It is tough for drivers to run a consistent line around the course, and with that, nobody has an advantage.
Polesitter, Ryan Blaney Leads the Field to the Green Flag
Once again, Ryan Blaney won the pole heading into Sunday’s race. He was not able to hold onto it for long as the field entered turn one five-wide.
Daniel Suarez was able to pass Blaney for the lead coming out of the 11th turn on the first lap. There were many spins in the first segment including Kyle Busch, who spun around on lap ten.
The race continued with Suarez leading. He was able to pick up the stage win with many front runners coming to pit road right before the stage ended.
Austin Cindric Leads the Pack to Start the Second Stage
With that, Austin Cindric cycled to the front of the field to begin the second segment. Cindric held the lead coming out of the troublesome first corner. Others were not as fortunate as Daniel Suarez and William Byron both spinning out. Suarez had to come down pit road due to a flat tire.
Cindric pressed on with the lead but opted to pit for track position heading into the final segment. Denny Hamlin stayed out and took over the lead. He did not pit to win the second stage.
Chastain Versus Allmendinger Throughout the Third Stage
Ross Chastain took over the lead in the third segment and had to battle AJ Allmendinger. There were a handful of cautions late in the race. Tyler Reddick made a pass on Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger for the lead right as one of the last cautions came out.
The race came to a restart with two laps remaining. Reddick led Chastain and Allmendinger up the hill into the first turn. Reddick was trapped in the middle coming out and had to fall back. Chastain and Allmendinger fought hard as they came around to the white flag.
Ross Chastain Holds Off AJ Allmendinger for First NASCAR Cup Series Victory
Their back-and-forth battle opened the door for Alex Bowman to stick his nose in the mix. Bowman was able to pass both in one corner for the lead but was unable to make his move stick. Allmendinger made contact with Bowman that took Allmendinger out of the race.
Bowman was able to hold onto his car and stay in second place. However, Ross Chastain cleanly navigated through the carnage and reclaimed the lead heading into the final corner. He came out of the 20th turn well in front of Alex Bowman and took the checkered flag for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory.
Ross Chastain had to go through it all on Sunday to score his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series victory. Time and time again he had to beat the field into the first turn and make it stick to hold his lead. He was under constant pressure on the final restarts, but AJ Allmendinger had nothing for him. It was not until the final restart that Chastain lost his lead and had to fight Reddick and Allmendinger to get it back.
Once Chastain returned to the lead, the race was on. Chastain and Allmendinger used up the whole track while fighting for the lead that allowed Alex Bowman to get into the mix. After an unsuccessful dive bomb by Bowman, his go at the lead was over. Ross Chastain had to fight for it late and could not have done a better job in claiming his first career Cup Series victory.