Kyle Busch, Chastain, Elliott eliminated from All-Star contention in heavy Stage 2 crash

A severe crash during the second stage of the NASCAR All-Star Race sidelined contenders Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Busch — the pole-starter — had already won the first stage of the annual invitational and was leading when his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota slowed dramatically off Turn 4 with a flat tire. Austin Cindric avoided Busch to take over the lead, but Chastain’s No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet piled in, briefly tipping up on two wheels after the powerful impact.

Chastain’s car then skidded into Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at the Turn 1 entry, knocking his car into the Turn 1 wall. All three drivers exited after the crash, done for the night.

Busch had led the first 47 laps before his trouble. He finished 21st in the 24-car field.

“Just when I got to the exit of (Turn) 4, the right-rear went down,” Busch said. “I was trying to limp it around and get it to the bottom of the track. Just got ran over. I don’t know, just tough day for our M&M’s Camry, it was super fast. Just real proud of the guys, everything we had and we were doing it right. Just not able to go out and race for a million bucks right now. Pretty disappointed.”

The stack-up prompted a red flag for clean-up with 48 of the 125 laps complete. Chastain lamented he was unable to avoid Busch’s slowing car.

“It felt like the driver of the No. 1 car chose the wrong lane to get in,” said Chastain, who was scored 22nd in the final rundown. “Our Worldwide Express Chevy was tight all night and we were just managing the tightness. I saw Kyle have an issue with a tire down. I guessed left and I should have guessed right. It was a big hit into Kyle. It was a tough break, but we had a fast car.”

Elliott had the initial impact cleared, but Chastain’s car made impact with the No. 9’s left-rear fender. He wound up 23rd.

“I saw the No. 18 had a problem; and then I saw the No. 1 hit him really hard. I just didn’t give him enough room,” Elliott said. “I knew he was going to go straight; I just didn’t realize he was going to go that far right that quick. I just kind of misjudged it. It was really avoidable on my end. I just kind of messed up and didn’t get the gap shot quick enough.

“Hate it. I thought our No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy was surprisingly pretty good for me and Texas, so I was pretty excited about it; looking forward to getting going and seeing what we had here towards the end. I thought we were sitting in a really good spot with strategy and things like that. We’ll try again next week.”