A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas…
Ross Chastain: Chastain has been in the hunt for his first win in the Cup Series all season long. He needed a last-gasp shove to AJ Allmendinger to get it done, but Chastain finally got that checkered flag Sunday in Austin. It’s Chastain’s fourth straight top-three finish and sends Trackhouse Racing to Victory Lane for the first time in the team’s young history. Chastain led a race-high 31 of 68 laps and now sits second in laps led this season (156) to Ryan Blaney (206).
Alex Bowman: All eyes were on Chastain and Allmendinger in the closing moments, but Bowman nearly snuck his way into another victory on Sunday afternoon. While the two leaders fought it out, Bowman lurked into the picture and became a true threat to win in the final half lap. He became a victim of Chastain’s shot to Allmendinger, but Bowman kept his car straight enough after contact from Allmendinger to escape the melee with a second-place finish. Bowman’s only finishes better than 10th this season are first (Las Vegas) and second (COTA).
Christopher Bell: At one point in Sunday’s race, Bell’s No. 20 Toyota sat on pit road and fell one lap behind with its hood open as the team worked to diagnose a steering issue. Thanks to a free pass, multiple cautions and an incredible drive, Bell muscled his way back to finish third, his first top-five finish of 2022. Bell was in the mix for the win at Atlanta one week ago and actually crossed the finish line second. But his last-lap pass on Chastain was deemed illegal because he went beneath the boundary line, relegating him to 23rd place. This week, Bell gets to keep the top five.
Austin Cindric: Cindric has needed a good run for a few weeks. Since opening the season with a Daytona 500 victory and a pole at Auto Club, things had gone downhill for the rookie with no top 10s in the past four races. He fixed that Sunday with an eighth-place effort, rebounding from a mid-race spin in Turn 10. The No. 2 car never felt like a legitimate contender for the win, but that’s was OK. What the team needed was a good result and an issue-free race. Spin cycle aside, Cindric came away with a good day.
Erik Jones: While running in 11th place at Lap 40, Jones’ car lost power and stalled on the backstretch, bringing out a caution flag. Twenty-nine laps later, Jones completed his rally with a ninth-place finish, his second top 10 of the year. The last three weeks hadn’t treated the No. 43 team particularly well. Since finishing second at Auto Club, Jones had finishes of 31st (DNF, Vegas), 25th (crash, Phoenix) and 14th (Atlanta). Yet despite the adversity at COTA, Jones and crew chief Dave Elenz managed to battle back and capitalize on their speed.
AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger wasn’t the day’s dominant driver, but he put the No. 16 Chevrolet in position to win when it mattered most. A nudge to Chastain in Turn 15 on the final lap moved Allmendinger into the lead with just five corners to go. But Chastain returned the favor with a significant shove into Turn 19, sending Allmendinger first into Bowman and then into the gravel. Two corners shy of the win, Allmendinger finished 33rd.
Bubba Wallace: Wallace’s weekend got off to a bad start when he fell off his longboard during Friday’s track walk. It only got worse Sunday when the No. 23 car lost a left rear wheel, nearly ensuring a four-week suspension for crew chief Bootie Barker and two pit-crew members when NASCAR announces its penalties later this week. Wallace was later forced to retire from the race due to mechanical problems, continuing a tough stretch for the 23XI Racing driver that includes finishes of 25th (Las Vegas), 22nd (Phoenix) and 13th (crash, Atlanta).
Chase Briscoe: Briscoe was in contention for the win late until a series of unfortunate events sent the No. 14 Ford to a 30th-place finish. The good run began to unravel on a Lap 57 restart, when Briscoe flat-spotted his left-front tire while braking for Turn 1. Shortly thereafter, Briscoe was sent wide through the esses and nearly had to serve a pass-through penalty for cutting the course before NASCAR rescinded its call. A caution for fluid came out moments later and Briscoe was forced to pit to replace his tire, only to suffer another flat tire on the final lap of the race. What was shaping up to be a great day went sour in a hurry.
Daniel Suarez: Suarez looked unstoppable early, leading all 15 laps of the first stage after qualifying second. But the No. 99 Chevrolet was sent for a Turn 1 spin on the following restart, sending Suarez to the rear of the field. To make matters worse, Suarez lost power steering with 28 laps to go. While his Trackhouse teammate Chastain went on to win, Suarez finished 24th, just his second finish outside the top 20 this season.
Joey Logano: Logano’s day started with a run through the gravel and largely came to an end in the gravel. The No. 22 Ford went around at the exit of Turn 1 as he, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch all went wide at Lap 67. The resulting contact severely damaged the suspension of Logano’s car, relegating the 2018 champion to a season-worst 31st-place finish.