Matt Kenseth focused on another strong run after Bristol victory


RICHMOND, Va. – Matt Kenseth says he won’t change his mindset even after his victory last weekend at Bristol all but assures him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“I hope the team’s doesn’t either, really, to be honest with you,’’ Kenseth said Friday morning at Richmond International Raceway. “I think that every week you show up with the idea of trying to qualify the best you can and trying to win the race. If you can’t win, you want to finish second. If you can’t finish second, you want to finish third. You always want to do the best you can.

“I’ve never been to the race track and not wanted to win, to do my best, or not wanted to finish the best I could. I just don’t feel like any of that changes. I know that where you are in the point standings doesn’t have a big effect to where they rack you up when September comes along, but, man, we’re only in April and we want to race hard every week and try to get the best results we can every week for our team and our sponsors and everybody involved.”

Kenseth’s victory at Bristol marked his third consecutive top-10 finish at a short track, dating to last season. He’s scored a top-10 finish in six of the last seven short tracks, going back to last year.

Kenseth, though, is not ready to predict another repeat performance.

“This is one of those tracks that for me is very, very hard to predict,’’ Kenseth said. “Even after practice is over and qualifying is over, it’s still hard for me to predict. It seems like the track changes so much from practice here in the sun in the middle of the day to the race once you get going at night. It’s a tough one really until you get into the race.”

After this week, the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway and then runs on 1.5-mile tracks at Kansas and then Charlotte for the Sprint All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600. How does Kenseth feel the team’s 1.5-mile program is progressing?

“I mean, before Texas I thought it improved quite a bit from last year,’’ said Kenseth who placed 23rd at Texas. “I thought Atlanta (fifth-place finish) we ran better, had some decent speed. I thought it was improving. California (Auto Club Speedway) was really, really good – I know that’s not a mile-and-a-half, but it’s a big ‘ole, wore out, fast track. I thought we all ran really well there, qualified well and ran well and had ourselves in position. I feel like we’re gaining. We’ve got a lot new stuff coming here pretty soon that we think will be better – we don’t really know without testing until we get to the track and race it a few times. We hope it’s better. I felt like it’s getting better.”


COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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NASCAR Saturday schedule at Circuit of the Americas


Saturday will be a busy day at Circuit of the Americas, as all three national series are on the track.

Cup will qualify ahead of the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series races.

The forecast Saturday calls for sunny conditions and no chance of rain all day. The high is expected to be 69 degrees during Cup qualifying, 76 degrees at the start of the Truck race and 81 degrees for the start of the Xfinity race.

Zane Smith looks to win his second consecutive Truck race at the road course in Austin, Texas. AJ Allmendinger seeks his second consecutive Xfinity win at COTA.

Saturday, March 25

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m.  — Truck Series
  • 2 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)