LOUDON, N.H. — Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. said that the timing of 5-hour Energy’s announcement that it won’t return after this season is challenging for the team.
But Truex, whose contract expires after this season, said he thinks he and the team still should be able to work on an extension even with the sponsorship question for next year. 5-hour Energy became the major co-primary sponsor this season on the No. 78 team with Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats for 30 Cup races.
Truex, who won last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, said he wasn’t necessarily surprised by the decision of 5-hour Energy to leave.
“They had been the fence for quite a while, and we had been waiting on a decision,’’ Truex said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I wish it didn’t take as long as it did and kind of put us in a tough spot now. I’m not really, really worried. I think something good can come out of this.
“Obviously, it’s not great timing with all that is going on. I’ve got confidence in my team and what we’re doing and hopefully we can find a replacement for that. I don’t see (owner) Barney (Visser) putting Furniture Row back on the car and doing that. I don’t know if he can make that work anymore. We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Asked about working on a contract extension even with 5-hour Energy’s departure, Truex said: “I think we can. Certainly makes things more difficult. We’ve been talking about it and honestly it’s not like we were waiting on this to happen.
“We’re just trying to figure everything out, what’s the best direction to go and get all the details. Honestly, we haven’t worked that hard on it. It’s not a pressing issue for me. I know what the team wants and where we’re all at. It’s not like I’m nervous they’re going to sign somebody else, or I’m going to be searching for a ride. It’s more just trying to focus on racing and feel like it will get done when it gets done.”
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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 goprn.com; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.
STREAMING: Fox Sports
FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly clouldy with a high of 74 degrees and a 9% chance of rain at the start of the race.
STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday
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.
CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS COVERAGE:
Friday 5: What to do about lack of respect on the track?
Dr. Diandra: With Chase Elliott out, these are the best Next Gen road racers
Drivers to watch at COTA
North Wilkesboro’s racing surface will prove challenging to drivers
NASCAR Power Rankings: Christopher Bell is new No. 1
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)
- 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
- 10:30 a.m. — Truck Series
- 2 p.m. — Xfinity Series
- 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)
AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.
Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.
He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.
Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.
Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.
Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.
Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).
Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.
Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.