RACE #6 – CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS
All three of NASCAR’s national series will head to Austin, Texas, this weekend, where Circuit of The Americas (COTA) will be the host of the first road course event of the 2022 season. NASCAR made its historic debut at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn Texas road course in 2021, where Chevrolet picked up its milestone 800th all-time NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) win. NASCAR’s return to COTA features the 68-lap NCS EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix on Sunday, March 27. For the second consecutive weekend, Saturday’s on-track action will include a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) doubleheader.
Saturday’s doubleheader kicks off with the Chevrolet Silverado drivers taking on the NCWTS XPEL 225 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1. The 42-lap/143.22 mile races marks the fourth race on the series’ 23-race schedule. The Silverado made its mark in the series debut at the Texas road course last season, capturing seven of the top-eight finishing positions. Joining the NCWTS field this weekend is Team Chevy NCS driver, Alex Bowman, who will make just his third-career start in the series behind the wheel of the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Silverado. Bowman’s last appearance in the NCWTS was back in 2017 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Rounding out Saturday’s doubleheader will be NXS Pit Boss 250 at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1. Last year’s inaugural NXS race at COTA saw the Camaro SS take two of the top-five, and five of the top-10, with road course standout AJ Allmendinger leading the bowtie brigade with a runner-up finish. Heading into the series’ sixth race on the season, Chevrolet continues to sit on top of the NXS driver and manufacturer points standings, scoring 2 wins, 16 top-five’s and 34 top-10’s thus far this season. After making his 2022 debut in the NCWTS last weekend, Team Chevy NCS regular Ross Chastain looks to make his 2022 NXS debut this weekend at COTA, piloting the No. 92 DGM Racing Camaro SS. In his 192 career starts in the series, Chastain has recorded 2 wins, 21 top-five’s and 47 top-10’s.
The NASCAR Cup Series will conclude the highly-anticipated race weekend with the 68-lap/231.88 mile EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix. The 2021 race saw Chevrolet go 1-2 in the rain-shortened event, with Chase Elliott and his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports team prevailing to capture their first victory of the 2021 season. Chevrolet’s unprecedented NCS 800th victory was also celebrated by an impressive four of the top-five of the final running order.
HISTORY MADE IN TEXAS
Circuit of The Americas holds a special place in Chevrolet’s history in NASCAR, as the bowtie brand captured its monumental 800th all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory after Chase Elliott made his way to victory lane in the inaugural EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix in 2021. The special win also gave Hendrick Motorsports its 268th NCS victory, which tied Petty Enterprises’ all-time win record. The organization went on to break the all-time win record the following weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, making Hendrick Motorsports the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history, a title that still stands today with now 283 all-time NCS wins.
Chevrolet’s rich heritage in NASCAR competition began when Fonty Flock claimed the victory on March 26, 1955, at Columbia Raceway in Columbia, South Carolina in his ’55 Chevy. Chevrolet continues to pace the field with 40 NCS Manufacturer Championships; 33 NCS Driver Championships; and 817 all-time race wins in the series making the brand the winningest manufacturer in NASCAR.
MAKE IT THREE FOR THE CAMARO ZL1
William Byron and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team claimed their first victory of the 2022 season last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 24-year-old Chevrolet driver claimed the Stage One win – his second stage win of the year – and went on to lead a race-high 111 laps at the 1.54-mile reprofiled Georgia oval. The feat marks the third win in just five points-paying races for the Next Gen Camaro ZL1, the most of any manufacturer. Heading into the sixth race of the season, Chevrolet remains atop the driver and manufacturer points standings, with Chase Elliott taking over the top spot, seven points ahead of second-place.
The 325-lap race also marked the third time this year that Chevrolet has come home with four of the top-five and six of the top-10 finishing positions. Ross Chastain and the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing team posted their second-consecutive runner-up finish. The Florida native led 42 laps, battling back from a blown tire while leading, to claim his third top-five finish on the season. Chastain’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, took the checkered flags in the fourth position, making it the first time that Trackhouse Racing has placed both cars in the top-five. Corey LaJoie drove the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Camaro ZL1 to a career-best fifth place finish to round out the Team Chevy top-five.
Byron’s victory made him the fifth different driver to win in the NASCAR Cup Series thus far this season. Joining Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman on the 2022 win list, three different Chevrolet drivers have now secured their spots into the 16-driver NCS Playoff field. The victory propelled Byron up through the standings to the fourth-spot, just 21-points behind the leader, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott.
KING OF THE ROAD COURSES
The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season saw a record-high seven road course races on the series 36-race schedule. The bowtie brand showed its strength on road course circuits, powering its way to victory lane in six of those seven races among three Chevrolet drivers: Chase Elliott (COTA and Road America); Kyle Larson (Sonoma, Watkins Glen and Charlotte ROVAL); and AJ Allmendinger (Indianapolis Road Course).
· Heading into the COTA race weekend, Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in NASCAR Cup Series wins (3), top-five’s (14), top-10’s (22), stage wins (6) and laps led (614).
· In the seven road course events on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Chevrolet captured the victory in six of those races.
· Chevrolet driver, Chase Elliott, is no stranger to success on road course circuits. Elliott has recorded seven road course victories in his NASCAR Cup Series career, ranking him third on the NCS all-time road course wins list behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine wins) and Tony Stewart (eight wins).
· Notable road course master, AJ Allmendinger, scored a fifth-place finish in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series race at COTA in just his fifth-career start in the series. Allmendinger later went on to win the NCS debut on the Indianapolis Road Course in August 2021, his second-career NCS victory and the first in the series for Kaulig Racing.
· Reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Kyle Larson, scored his first-career road course victory in 2021 (Sonoma Raceway). The 29-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver went on to add two more road course victories to his resume, including Watkins Glen International and the Charlotte ROVAL, making him the first driver in the series history to win at three different road courses in a single season.
· Tyler Reddick, No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Camaro ZL1, captured his first-career NASCAR Cup Series pole at the 2021 COTA race, setting the qualifying record at 91.363 mph (132.911 seconds).
· Four Team Chevy drivers have combined for six NASCAR Cup Series stage wins:
Tyler Reddick 2 - (Fontanax2)
Alex Bowman 1 - (Las Vegas)
Ross Chastain 1 - (Las Vegas)
William Byron 2 - (Phoenix)(Atlanta)
· Chevrolet leads in the driver point standing in both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series. Chase Elliott leads in the NCS standings by seven points and Noah Gragson leads in the NXS standings by 19 points. The bowtie brand also sits atop both the NCS and NXS manufacturer points standings.
· Trackhouse Racing placed both of their Camaro ZL1 entries in the top-five at Atlanta Motor Speedway, making it the first time in the organization’s history to do so. Ross Chastain recorded his second-consecutive runner-up finish, while teammate Daniel Suarez posted a fourth-place finish.
· A.J. Allmendinger is the only NASCAR Xfinity Series driver to have top-10 finishes in all five events this season thus far. The Chevrolet driver also has the best average finish of all full-time NXS drivers (5.6).
· With its 40 NASCAR Cup Series Manufacturer Championships; 33 NASCAR Cup Series Driver Championships; and 817 all-time NASCAR Cup Series wins, Chevrolet holds the title of winningest brand in NASCAR.
FOX will telecast the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 27. FS1 will telecast the NASCAR Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 26. Live coverage of both events can also be found on PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
FS1 will telecast the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series XPEL 225 at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 26. Live coverage of the 42-lap/143.22 mile event can also be found on MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BENNETT CAMARO ZL1
LAST YEAR, YOU JUMPED INTO THE UNKNOWN AT CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS DOWN IN AUSTIN, TEXAS. WHAT DID YOU LEARN LAST YEAR THAT YOU CAN CARRY OVER TO THIS YEAR?
“I would love to have a race at Circuit of the Americas in better conditions because last year was a monsoon. We want to see the track in regular racing conditions because if it does rain, it definitely changes the line a bit. There’s a wet line and a dry line. It was good to experience that, but I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. I think the new NextGen car is built for much better racing in the rain, but I don’t think there’s supposed to be any kind of race in that kind of condition. That was a bit aggressive, as we learned. I’m just excited to get back to the track. Tyler Reddick and I put in some time there in the offseason, which has us pumped for this weekend. We won an endurance race there this year, which was awesome.”
YOU DID SOME ROAD COURSE RACING AT COTA DURING THE OFF SEASON WITH TYLER REDDICK AND KAZ GRALA. WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?
“It was pretty awesome. We won both days. There were 98 cars there, and 40 were in our class. I felt like we went down there and needed to win. We had the best driver lineup, and we were able to get the job done. It was a great experience for when we go to COTA, and just learning more about road course racing. We did a lot of passing during the race, so it was good. I think we all started to gain some different knowledge about the track, and different areas you can run to try and find speed. Laps are laps. You can’t beat getting that experience.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
LARSON ON THE DRY CONDITIONS EXPECTED THIS WEEKEND AT COTA:
“It will be like a new track for us. Last year, I felt like it was dry for only a couple laps during the entire weekend. We’re definitely looking forward to it because the Hendrick Motorsports road course program has been strong.”
LARSON ON THE FIRST ROAD COURSE RACE FOR THE NEXT GEN CAR:
“I drove it in a test the day after the (Charlotte) ROVAL (race). It was good to have an immediate comparison between the two generations of cars, but a lot of changes and updates (to the car) have occurred since then.”
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
DANIELS ON RETURNING TO COTA:
“The entire field had only two laps in dry conditions last year, and that was during qualifying. We don’t have many data points to draw from. We will be able to pull a little from the ROVAL, but so much has changed since then. The general characteristics of the car haven’t really changed, but physical parts, pieces, components and rules are way different.”
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 8 3CHI CAMARO ZL1
COTA IS THE PLACE WHERE YOU WON YOUR FIRST CUP SERIES CAREER POLE AWARD AND IT WAS THE FIRST-EVER RACE AT THE AUSTIN, TEXAS, TRACK. CAN YOU IMPLEMENT ANYTHING FROM LAST SEASON’S RACE TO THIS WEEKEND AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE MOMENTUM ON YOUR SIDE?
“COTA is a huge weekend for all of us on the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro team. With a road course as diverse as COTA, you really have to bring your a-game. It’s exciting to come back to the place where I won my first pole, you don’t forget that and it’s definitely special. Especially with not having practice and qualifying most weekends last season, it was cool to be one of the guys that went out there and won the pole. I’m looking forward to this weekend’s race and adding another one for our team. Last year’s race was rough with the rain and it’s looking like we’re going to have good weather this weekend so that’s a gamechanger. I think with the new car and no rain, you’re going to see different racing. I’m pumped for it; we’ve spent a lot of time working on our road course program and this is our chance to put it all to the test with the Next Gen car. With only having 20 minutes to acclimate to the new Next Gen car on the racetrack, every minute on track will be crucial. I feel very good about where we are as a team and how well the performance of our cars have been. This will certainly be a race that will test every aspect of the team and the driver. With that, we have a lot of excitement, and we are ready to take on the challenge head-on. I’m excited for it, we could use a good result after last weekend at Atlanta.”
DURING THE OFF SEASON, YOU VISITED COTA WITH AUSTIN DILLON AND KAZ GRALA FOR A RACE. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE AND WILL IT HELP YOU AT ALL THIS WEEKEND?
“Racing at COTA during the offseason was really cool. We were running an endurance race and there were almost 100 cars there and 40 were in our class. We ended up winning both days. That’s exactly what we went down there to do; to win. With the lineup that we had of myself, my teammate Austin and Kaz, we knew we could compete and go for the win. It was awesome to be a part of and a great way of having extra experience at COTA. It was a way to learn more about the track and road-course racing in general. It was a completely different experience than when we were there for the race because of weather, and I was able to take some good notes home with me.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 LLUMAR CAMARO ZL1
ELLIOTT ON RACING AT COTA WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR:
“COTA is our first road course race with this car. I don’t think anybody has really driven it a lot on road courses. We had the test at Charlotte there early on, but it seemed like every team was kind of rotating drivers through. So I don’t think any of us got a ton of time with it, but you know these cars, really a lot of the design pieces come from a road race background – some of the things they (NASCAR) see on the IMSA side of things. I really think they’re probably going to suit road racing well. I think they’ll be fine, and I don’t know that the race will look a ton different, honestly. I think the cars will drive fine. Certainly, getting used to those small things that are going to be a little bit different and the shifting and the brakes (will be important). Just how they act at some of those different style of corners. I think it will be fine.”
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 LLUMAR CAMARO ZL1
GUSTAFSON ON THE FIRST ROAD COURSE RACE WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR:
“I’m excited to do it. I personally didn’t go over to Charlotte (to the test). We were in the middle of a championship battle, so we were focused on that. This will be my first time to work with the car at a road course and start that process. There are certainly a lot of unknowns and a lot of things that we’ve got to understand and adapt. And even from the ROVAL test, the cars and configurations have changed from then, so, yeah, a lot to learn. It’s exciting. This car, on paper, is really well suited to perform at a road course, so I think it will be a lot of fun. The car should be really good and it should be very competitive. We’ll do our best to get as much of an advantage as possible. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always loved road racing, and it’s a fun challenge. COTA is a great track. It’s got everything. It has fast corners and slow corners and long, sweeping corners, and quick transition corners, and braking zones and elevation changes. The track has every component you could imagine, so it makes it a lot of fun to go out there and race.”
AJ ALLMENDINGER, NO. 16 ACTION INDUSTRIES CAMARO ZL1
“We had a really good weekend as a team last year at COTA, so I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going that we have in the Xfinity Series and then going out and doing it again on Sunday in the Cup Series. With the Next Gen car, I think the braking will be the biggest difference compared to last year. I think we will be able to be more aggressive and reach peak-brake distance getting into the corners. The physicality of the race car will be increased as well – that’s something that makes racing more enjoyable for me, especially at a place like COTA where there’s so many different types of corners, whether you are at high speeds, or more aggressive with the brakes.
I always have a little more confidence at these types of tracks, and if we are at our best, I believe we can go contend with the best teams out there. As a team, our goal is to go out and make the best of the day.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
BYRON ON WHAT HIS ATLANTA WIN MEANS TO HIM:
“This one was a tough win to get. It was really a hybrid between Daytona and a mile-and-a-half. We had to make a lot of adjustments going into Sunday, and I’m really proud of my team to improve on what we had in practice by a significant amount to allow us to be competitive. It’s great to get a win so early, in just the fifth race of the season. With this new car you don’t what can happen, and it’s nice to have that win already. Now we can really be aggressive.”
BYRON ON HIS THOUGHTS FOR THIS WEEKEND AT THE CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS:
“I think it’s going to be crazy. You talk about last year and we were really good in practice in the rain. Unfortunately, we got damage in the race and had a hard time coming back from it. I think this year is going to be a totally different beast. In terms of the No. 24 team, I think we’ve had really good speed on the road courses, but we haven’t’ gotten the win yet at that kind of track. We need to work hard this weekend and hopefully by Sunday we have a good idea of what we have and we can compete for that win. I’m excited for it. I don’t think it will be as unpredictable as last year, but at the same time it’s the first time on a road course with the Next Gen car in competition. It will be a good challenge.”
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 RAPTORTOUGH.COM CAMARO ZL1
FUGLE ON WHAT THE ATLANTA WIN MEANS FOR THE TEAM:
“The win at Atlanta was huge. To be able to get a win so early in the season, it not only is an extra boost of confidence, but it opens up the door for what we can do in races moving forward. Last year we won early and were consistent, but we didn’t capitalize on wins or playoff points. This year, we’re looking to change that. With one win already, we can now be aggressive and chase those playoff points to put us in a better position in the playoffs.”
FUGLE ON HIS APPROACH FOR THIS WEEKEND AT COTA:
“This weekend should be interesting to say the least, and a bit of a question mark to be honest. There’s not many notes from last year that can correlate to this weekend with the way the weather is looking right now. Last year we had nothing but rain. This weekend looks warm and sunny. It’s definitely going to take a few laps to get adjusted. With such limited time in practice, too, this year, the hope is to get a couple clean laps in the session to give us an idea of what adjustments to make for not only qualifying but for the race on Sunday. It’s going to be a learning curve for sure though.”
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
“I’m very excited to get the Next Gen car to our first road course of the year. We had a successful test over the off season at the ROVAL, so I’m looking forward to our first actual road-course race of the season. COTA was one of our better tracks last year at Kaulig Racing, and I’ve had some really good runs there in all the series I’ve raced in. We have a little bit of momentum on this No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team and some good finishes so far. Hopefully we can capitalize on our strengths this weekend.”
TY DILLON, NO. 42 CHEVYLINERS.COM CAMARO ZL1
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE TYPE OF TRACK TO RACE ON?
“Categorically, I would say road courses are my favorite. The unique challenge of turning left and right, going up and down hills. There are so many things that you have to think through during a road course race from an approach standpoint. I’m looking forward to getting the first road course under our belt with this brand-new car. Every race has had a massive learning curve and it’s about building a notebook for the next race and the next thing you get to do. To break through at COTA is going to be a lot of fun for all of us.”
THE WEATHER LAST SEASON WAS CHALLENGING. EVEN DESPITE THOSE CONDITIONS, YOU WERE ABLE TO MOVE YOURSELF FORWARD. WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR THIS SEASON GOING BACK FOR A SECOND TIME?
“I learned a lot last season and probably learned the most in the last 15 or 20 laps there in the rain. We were able to get up through the field better at that point, but we had some mechanical issues on the No. 96 car where I think we could have finished inside the top-15 if not better in that race. I’m looking forward to going back - rain or shine. We are all on a pretty equal playing field going into this weekend. I’ve been putting in the hours preparing for this race for weeks now, so I’m really focused on having a great race in COTA to start the road course side of our sport with the Next Gen car in a really positive direction and creating an advantage there.”
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 FOCUSFACTOR CAMARO ZL1
WE ARE GOING ROAD COURSE RACING FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS SEASON WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR. YOU FINISHED 16TH AT COTA LAST YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON GOING BACK THERE AND THE FIRST ROAD COURSE RACE WITH THIS CAR?
“Well, I think our weather is going to be substantially better than what we had last year. I’m looking forward to that part. I don’t really feel like I got a good read on the racetrack last year. I was racing in the rain and didn’t have a sense of what the track was like. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dry and really getting a feel for it. The Next Gen car is really suited well for road courses. I was at the Charlotte Roval test at the end of last year and it went really well. It’s going to be a way different style of racing with this car than what we had with the previous car, so you are going to push a lot harder and run quicker through the whole run. Excited to see how it really handles. Hopefully, we have a strong car again.”
CHEVROLET TEAMS SEEM TO BE WORKING TOGETHER BETTER THAN OTHER MANUFACTURERS. ARE YOU SEEING THIS COLLABORATION AND IS YOUR TEAM GETTING SOME OF THAT INFORMATION?
“Chevrolets have definitely been fast here to start the season and we’ve been getting some good help from them as we look to make our cars better. There is just so much to learn with this car. There are so many things that we just don’t know about it, and we are all trying to learn as fast as we can. We are trying to figure out what this car likes, what it wants from a setup and adjustments, what makes it tick. Chevrolet has been doing a good job of milling through that and figuring out what does make this car happy. We have been able to lean on some of that information to help our car and hopefully help the other teams as well. I’ve been looking forward to working with them. This is my second year with Chevrolet, and it’s been a good partnership to this point. I’ve enjoyed getting to learn them, getting to know their race cars, and hopefully getting to Victory Lane with them this year.”
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
BOWMAN ON DRIVING IN THE TRUCK SERIES AHEAD OF THE CUP SERIES RACE:
“I am excited to have an opportunity to drive the No. 7 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado for Spire Motorsports ahead of Sunday’s race. I think any time you can get behind the wheel of a different race car and make laps, it only makes you a better driver. I like putting myself in uncomfortable situations so when I get into my Cup car, I am more relaxed and see things a little bit slower. The ability to slow the race down helps me make better decisions in the moment and ultimately be more competitive and race for more wins.”
GREG IVES, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
IVES ON HIS EXPECTATIONS FOR SUNDAY’S RACE AT COTA:
“I’m excited to get to Austin and take another swing at COTA. Obviously, with last year’s race ending short because of the rain, we didn’t get a good base of what the track is like. We finished eighth last year, so hopefully we can improve on that and take home another win this season.”
IVES ON BOWMAN DRIVING A TRUCK ON SATURDAY:
“To have Alex get in the truck race will help him get some experience in dry conditions and see how the track evolves as the race progresses. He’s a racer at heart, so I know he is excited for another opportunity to get strapped into a new race car and compete with the best in the series.”
DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 COMMSCOPE CAMARO ZL1
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ATLANTA A FEW DAYS LATER?
"I am very happy for everyone at Trackhouse Racing. It's not just everyone you see at the track, it's the people back at the shop. We are building very fast race cars and that starts back at the race shop.
We are just in a good place. We have amazing partners and amazing people. We have to enjoy this, keep the momentum going and keep moving forward.
I truly believe there are even better days coming ahead for us. The trophies are going to start showing up."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COTA ON SUNDAY?
"We are going to win the race and then have a heck of a party. I love road courses. It's what I grew up doing in carting. I can't wait for Sunday."