The NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight begins with a race at Texas Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro, will have to begin his day at the rear of the field after he failed pre-race inspection twice.
Elliott had an original starting spot of sixth, next to Joey Logano on the third row. This penalty marks the sixth time that Elliott failed pre-race inspection and dropped to the rear of the field. He also did so at Phoenix in March, Atlanta in March, Darlington in May, Dover in May, and Watkins Glen in August. His best finish after receiving a pre-race penalty was runner-up at Watkins Glen behind teammate Kyle Larson.
The No. 9 car passed pre-race inspection on the third attempt, so Elliott will not have to conduct a pass-through penalty at the start of the race. He will remain on the lead lap with the rest of the field.
Elliott was not the only driver to receive a penalty for failing pre-race inspection twice. Rookie Chase Briscoe, Corey LaJoie, David Starr, and Garrett Smithley all went to the back of the pack after failing twice. Briscoe had an original starting spot on the 13th row while the RWR cars were set to start near the rear of the field.
The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 will take place on Sunday, October 17, at 2 p.m. ET. NBC will provide coverage as Elliott and the other seven playoff drivers fight for the win and a spot in the championship four.
Elliott Enters the Texas Race Below the Playoff Cutline
The penalty puts Elliott in a difficult position as he tries to remain alive in the playoffs. He enters the Round of Eight below the cutline after fighting throughout the cutoff race at the Charlotte Roval for points and position on the track.
Elliott is two points out of the final transfer spot, just behind Kyle Busch (-1). Ryan Blaney (+1), Martin Truex Jr. (+6), and Denny Hamlin (+7) are the three drivers within reach while Kyle Larson (+42) has a significant cushion.
The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has never won at Texas Motor Speedway during his Cup Series career. He has 10 starts and five top-10 finishes two his name. His best runs were a pair of top-fives during his rookie season in 2016, including a fourth-place finish in the playoff race.
Elliott Has Decent Odds To Win at Texas & Move On
Prior to the penalty, oddsmakers predicted that Elliott would contend for the win at Texas Motor Speedway. BetMGM released the initial odds for the Cup Series playoff race and listed Larson (11-4) as the odds-on favorite. Elliott had the fourth-best odds at 7-1.
Busch (7-1) and Hamlin (6-1) will both enter the Texas playoff race as two of the top names to watch. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has four wins at Texas in his Cup Series career. He first captured the spring race in 2013 and then added trips to Victory Lane in 2016, 2018, and 2020.
Hamlin, on the other hand, has three wins at the Fort Worth track. He swept the 2010 season before returning to Victory Lane in 2019. Now he will return to the 1.5-mile oval with the goal of sweeping the first race of all three rounds.
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