Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hash out their differences on the lake


LONG POND, Pa. – Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. apparently have hugged it out, figuratively and literally.

After Stenhouse vowed retribution (video above) for crashing after a flat tire from contact with Jones at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a chance meeting between the pair this week on Lake Norman in the Charlotte area defused the tension.

“We had a good day,” Jones said Saturday after qualifying fifth at Pocono Raceway. “I didn’t even know he was going to be out there. We ended up hanging out.

“It was fine. Ricky and I have always got along fine. We’ve had our differences on the racetrack from time to time, but I think we’re all good. I asked him if he needed a hug at the end of the day before I left out, but we’re all good. We had a good time out on the lake and patched things up.”

Jones, who finished third at New Hampshire to continue his surge toward the playoffs, had been adamant that he did nothing wrong after he felt Stenhouse impeded his progress for five laps.

“Ricky races people hard, and I think he knows that,” Jones said. “I wasn’t going to apologize to him for it. I didn’t want to wreck him. I didn’t want to take him out of the race. My move wasn’t to end his day. Unfortunately, it did. If you’re going to race hard, especially at that point in the race, you’re going to get raced hard back. Ricky and I understand that. I think we’ve come to a common ground there on how to race each other going forward.

Stenhouse conceded Saturday at Pocono that “we were in the way” of Jones at New Hampshire and said his frustration mostly stemmed from still being miffed that Jones didn’t say anything after spinning Stenhouse at Bristol Motor Speedway last year.

“That and (New Hampshire) added together was a little frustrating,” Stenhouse said. “I probably won’t go crash him like I thought I would. I don’t really like going to crash people on purpose. I’ll still race hard. It’s just what I do. It’s settled a little bit more.

“I’ll still race hard and similar to what he said. I like Erik. We just had a couple of run-ins, which everybody in this garage has. So there’s people mad at each other every week. That’s just part of our sport. Part of the package. We’re all racing so hard. It’s so hard to pass at some racetracks. You’ve got to hustle your car. You’ve got to drive your car hard. I enjoy it, but it definitely gets people frustrated.”

The 36th at New Hampshire was Stenhouse’s third DNF of the season. With six races remaining in the regular season, he’s ranked 20th in the points standings and in must-win territory to qualify for the playoffs.

“Obviously, I feel like Bristol is our best chance (for a victory) by far,” said Stenhouse, pointing to the Aug. 17 race at the final short track in the regular season.

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)