One last time: What title contenders said after final Sprint Cup practice

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The next time the Sprint Cup cars will be on the track will be to start Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on NBC.

After Saturday’s final practice, three of the four title contenders spoke briefly. Here’s what they and their crew chiefs said.

Jeff Gordon

He was the fastest among the title contenders for one lap (ninth overall) and 10 laps (first overall). After his first run, he radioed his team “awesome job guys,” but things changed as the session progressed.

“The very first run that final practice was great,” Gordon said. “I felt really good about it. We’ve got a few things on the longer run that I felt like we can work on. The second run was so-so. The track definitely lost some grip. I think we have a good indication what the track conditions are going to be like in the race, so that is all really valuable information that we can put into our database and make adjustments and hopefully good decisions for tomorrow.”

Said crew chief Alan Gustafson: “The car has been pretty good the whole time. We just needed some time on the track and time to figure it out. We have gotten better every practice. The last practice was the best we have been.  We still need to get better, but I think we are heading the right direction.”

Martin Truex Jr.

He was second fastest among the title contenders for one lap (10th overall) and third among the title contenders over 10 laps (seventh).

“We haven’t made any gains on it,” Truex said. “It’s been a frustrating day. We have been struggling with the car and we really haven’t hit on anything that helped it. So we are going to go in there and work on it right now and hopefully come up with something for tomorrow.”

Crew chief Cole Pearn said: “Low grip out there so it’s sliding around on both ends. We are just trying to find out what the right balance is on both sides of it. Still got a lot of work to do there. Just need to be a little better and get it a little more consistent to drive.”

Kyle Busch 

He was third fastest among the title contenders for one lap (17th overall) and second among title contenders over 10 laps (fourth).

“I don’t think (Sunday) is going to be near as hard as what it was back in March or April going through the therapy and everything trying to get all of that done and everything to get my strength back and to get back walking and all of that stuff. It seems pretty easy, it seems pretty far gone now that I’m here walking and I’m racing, I’m winning and have a chance for the championship. It was actually eight months ago to the day today that I was in the hospital going in for surgery and everything else. If there’s one final emotion that’s probably going to be set for hopefully this weekend and that’s to win my first Sprint Cup Series championship so hopefully we can do it.

“(The car is) definitely one of the best race cars I’ve had here for sure. It does the things that I think that it needs to do so hopefully I’m right and hopefully we’ve got a good race car for tomorrow.”

Crew chief Adam Stevens said: “(The car) was pretty good. It was better than yesterday. I’m glad that we didn’t have to race what we brought off the truck because we certainly had our work cut out for us, but I feel like we’re competitive for sure. Got a good direction for a couple small race changes for tomorrow but not much so overall I’m very optimistic.”

Kevin Harvick

The reigning champion was last among the title contenders for one lap in practice (26th overall) and last among the title contenders over 10 laps (16th).

Crew chief Rodney Childers spoke briefly after the session.

“The car seems to have had pretty good speed,” he said. “Definitely a lot better than what we were here last year. The guys did a good job. Kevin learned a lot running the top up against the wall. I feel like we got a lot of good information with those long runs. We will make a few adjustments for the race to try to keep the car tightened up and hopefully be good.”


COTA Xfinity Series results

COTA Xfinity results
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger led 28 of 46 laps Saturday to win the Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

Allmendinger held off William Byron to score his first victory of the year and 16th in the Xfinity Series.

MORE: COTA Xfinity results

Ty Gibbs placed third and was followed by rookie Sammy Smith and Justin Allgaier.

Smith, Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, who placed sixth, and Sam Mayer, who finished seventh, will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash next weeked at Richmond after being the top four full-time Xfinity finishers Saturday.



AJ Allmendinger wins Xfinity race at COTA

AJ Allmendinger Xfinity COTA
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger overcame damage from a restart to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

This is the second year in a row he has won this race. It is Allmendinger’s first victory of the season and 16th career Xfinity win.

MORE: COTA race results 

William Byron, driving for Hendrick Motorsports, finished second. Ty Gibbs placed third, Sammy Smith fourth and Justin Allgaier fifth.

Smith, Allgaier, sixth-place finisher Daniel Hemric and seventh-place finisher Sam Mayer — the top four full-time Xfinity drivers — will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Richmond Raceway.

Allmendinger won the first stage and then pitted. When a caution came out shortly, it put him 21st in the field. On the Lap 20 restart, his car suffered damage when he was hit going into Turn 1.

Allmendinger worked his way through the field and took the lead from Sheldon Creed on Lap 33 when they made contact and Creed spun. Creed fell back to 23rd and finished the 46-lap race in ninth.

Stage 1 winner: AJ Allmendinger

Stage 2 winner: Sheldon Creed

Who had a good race: Josh Berry placed eighth after suffering damage to the front of his car on the first corner of the first lap. It is his fifth consecutive top 10. … Riley Herbst‘s 10th-place finish gives him his ninth consecutive top 10.

Who had a bad race: Austin Hill, who had won three of the first five races this season, had mechanical issues early and finished 37th in the 38-car field.

Next: The series races April 1 at Richmond Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1)

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins


Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

MORE: Truck points after COTA

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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.