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March 24, 2023

What to Watch: 2023 Circuit of The Americas

EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas (COTA)
(โฐ 3:30 p.m. ET | ๐Ÿ“บ FOX, FOX Sports App | ๐Ÿ“ป PRN, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race in Texas, the first road-course race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | COTA 101

๐Ÿ“ Location: Austin, Texas
๐Ÿ“ Track length: 3.41 miles
๐ŸŽŸ๏ธ Buy tickets: Three races this weekend
๐Ÿ’ฐ Cup Series race purse: $9,294,829
๐Ÿ“ Race distance: 68 laps | 231.88 miles
๐Ÿ”ข Stages: 15 | 30 | 68 – No stage cautions, points still awarded

๐Ÿšช Entry list: Stars are out in Texas
๐Ÿ“‹ Starting lineup: Where drivers will start on Sunday
๐Ÿš— Pit stall assignments:
Where drivers will pit on Sunday
๐Ÿ“ฆ Rules package: New rules for short tracks, road courses
๐Ÿ† Most recent winner: Ross Chastain

Key things to watch ๐Ÿ”‘

Top story line

Revamped road-course racing. Sunday’s race at Circuit of The Americas will be the debut of the new low-downforce package on road courses after Cup Series drivers got a first taste at Phoenix Raceway. Also for the first time, the choose rule will be in effect before each restart and while stage points will still be awarded, there will be zero stage cautions. Strategy will be important throughout the race for teams looking to make up ground on the track or maximize their points day – it will be a fine line and a big test when it comes down to racing for the win during the Final Stage.

Need more details? Watch Steve Letarte and Todd Gordon break it down

๐Ÿ’ฐ Xfinity Series: Dash 4 Cash qualifier is Saturday

History tells us…

Ross Chastain will be in the mix. Chastain is one of just two drivers with a pair of top-five finishes since COTA debuted on the schedule in 2021. His 2022 victory at the track solidified him as the all-time leader in laps led (35) and average finish (2.5). While yes, it is a small sample size, the chaotic finish to last year’s Texas showdown showed that the No. 1 driver is willing to do anything to win – even going door-to-door on the final lap with Alex Bowman and AJ Allmendinger. Aside from Tyler Reddick’s RCR Chevrolet in 2022, Trackhouse Racing arguably had the best road-course resume, so don’t expect any less from them this weekend.

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ: Allmendinger has ‘no ill feelings’ after 2022 finish

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Alex Bowman. Bowman doesn’t get the road-course credit that some of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates get and that’s fair given he’s never actually won a left-and-right-circuit race. But his performances at COTA specifically have been exceptional with a pair of top 10s and a dramatic runner-up result a year ago. He has also had a hot start to this season in general, reeling off top 10s in every race this season except for last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway. With all the other story lines, Bowman will be overlooked this weekend, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win.

๐Ÿ‘€ Honorable mention: Road-course ringer, Jordan Taylor

Practice and qualifying

Tyler Reddick is flying this weekend. The driver of the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing paced the 50-minute practice session on Friday afternoon and backed that up Saturday in qualifying. Reddick laid down a lap at 94.210 mph in the opening round of time trials, setting a new track record. But in the final round, it was William Byron nabbing the pole at 93.882 mph. Byron became the first driver in NASCAR history to score poles at four different road courses. | Recap Friday’s practice | Full breakdown of qualifying

Familiar favorites โญ๏ธ

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– Paint Scheme Preview: New paint schemes for Texas tripleheader | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: Is Christopher Bell set to break through at COTA? | Latest driver rankings
– Fantasy Fastlane: Expect an AJ Allmendinger rebound this weekend | Best plays, lineup advice | Update after practice/qualifying
– Betting odds: Which driver is the favorite to win Sunday? | Top bets, underdog picks (updated Sunday)
– Stacking Pennies:
Corey LaJoie riding high after career-best finish | Listen to the podcast
– At-track photos:
See all the best photos fresh from Circuit of The Americas | See the full photo gallery

๐Ÿ’Ž NASCAR 75: Check out exclusive NASCAR content throughout the anniversary season | Learn more, explore

Hot off the press ๐Ÿ“ฐ

Key stories and breaking news from the week leading up to the race.

– Eager for more: Daniel Suárez confident in COTA return after ‘mixed emotions’ last year | Read more
– Penalty appeal:
Appeal dates scheduled for Hendrick, Kaulig, Hamlin | Read more
– Chase Elliott:
Will join FOX Sports booth during Sunday’s race | Read more
– Flashback to 2022:
AJ Allmendinger reflects on wild finish last year at COTA | Read more
– Atlanta penalty report:
Josh Williams suspended one race, other penalties | Read more
– Jordan Taylor:
Shows off Jeff Gordon-inspired helmet for NASCAR debut | Read more
– Tyler Reddick:
23XI Racing driver finding his form before Sunday’s race | Read more
– Trackhouse Racing:
Project91 will feature multiple drivers in 2023 | Read more

Get in on the action ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– Fantasy Live: Still time to get on the leaderboard and win big this season | Tips for 2023
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

Coming back to COTA ๐Ÿ”™

Road courses have been an integral part of the sport’s history, and in just two races, COTA has lived up to the hype.

– Winner, winner: All-time winners on road courses | See who has the most
– Road-course ringers:
Active drivers with road-course wins | View the full list
– On the rise:
Road-course racing in NASCAR continues to grow, flourish | Read more
– GIFs are great: Key moments from most recent COTA race in GIFs | See them here
– Final Laps:
Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and AJ Allmendinger race to the finish | Highlights from 2022

Take some notes ๐Ÿ“

Five hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

On Sunday, the choose cone will be used at COTA for the first time on a road course.
The last three drivers to score their first Cup win did it on a road course (Ross Chastain, Daniel Suárez, Tyler Reddick).
Chris Buescher finished in the top 10 in the last five road-course races, the longest active streak by any driver.
AJ Allmendinger is making his 400th Cup start at COTA this weekend; six drivers have won in their 400th start.
Chevrolet drivers won 11 of the last 12 races on road courses but Christopher Bell (Toyota) won the most recent.

๐Ÿ”ฎ Predicting the winner: Using data to set a projected finishing order (updated Sunday)