Chase Elliott Thinks NASCAR Drivers “Better” Than “Embarrassing” Display In 2023 At COTA

By Jerry Jordan, Editor

AUSTIN, Texas – In 2023, Chase Elliott wasn’t in the driver’s seat at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), he was in the TV booth but that didn’t stop him from sharing his thoughts on the upcoming Cup Series race, on Sunday, and how NASCAR’s changes might help what he called and “embarrassing” situation.

One of the things COTA is known for is its iconic Turn 1, which boasts an elevation change from the frontstretch of about 133 feet with a 160-degree hard left turn that immediately goes downhill. It is also the place of chaos, or at least it was, for previous NASCAR events.

Coming into this week’s race, NASCAR changed the restart zone, which they hope will make a difference in how the race plays out. It was moved back from the start/finish line to just after the final turn of the 3.410-mile track. Drivers will also be required to stay in their respective lanes until exiting the restart zone.

Nascar changes the restart zone at circuit of the americas cota after embarrassing debacle in 2023.

“I hope it is different, just from my perspective, not being in the race (last year), I thought it was just really embarrassing, to be honest,” Elliott said. “I just remember, like just not wanting to watch. I was like, is this what we look like all the time? You know, I could just imagine myself being from other forms of motorsports and watching that thing, I would be like, it’s just not the integrity of the product, it was just bumper cars.”

Elliott wasn’t holding back, something that endears him to his fans, who have voted him the sport’s most popular driver six times in a row. He’s hoping drivers can be better this year and not make the race a free-for-all going into and coming out of Turn 1.

“It was kind of silly,” Elliott continued. “We’re all better than that, and it was just kind of disappointing from my seat to see it unfold that way. I do think that was an extreme of the way Turn 1 is here, it’s just super-inviting to be silly. I was just glad that the best car won. You know, because Tyler (Reddick) could have easily gotten crashed or knocked out of the way and that would have been disappointing from my seat just because of how dominant he was. He really deserved to win the race and he did a great job to protect what he could. Fortunately, he had a fast enough car that even when he did get booted out of the way, he could get back to the front.

“I hope the restart zone helps. I think instead of the first seven rows having the opportunity to divebomb Turn 1, maybe it will probably just be, maybe, four, so I don’t know if it will completely fix it but it certainly may be a step in the right direction.”

As for returning to COTA, which has been on the Cup Series schedule since 2021, when Elliott won the inaugural event, he said he likes the track and believes it puts on a good show for the fans.

“I think it’s been fine. Obviously, I mean the facility is super nice, you know, even above some of the places we go regularly,” Elliott said. “It is just really, really a nice place and I don’t have any ill will against coming out here. I think it is fine as long as the race is providing the entertainment that we feel like it should; I suppose we are okay to keep coming back.”

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