Could a new course to the Cup schedule deliver another new winner in a season that already has seen 10 different winners in the first 13 races?
Sunday’s inaugural Cup race at Circuit of the Americas, a 20-turn, 3.41-mile course, offers many possibilities.
Chase Elliott, who has won four of the last five races at road courses, still seeks his first victory of the seasons and will be among those to watch in Sunday’s race. William Byron, who was fastest in Saturday’s practice goes for his second win of the year. Joey Logano, who won the inaugural Cup race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this year, looks to add another win in a new event to his resume.
That doesn’t even factor in the potential for rain.
“I hope it rains,” Byron said.
Among the challenges for teams will be how to set up the car for Sunday’s race.
“I don’t think we know what to do,” Logano said after Saturday’s practice. “(Crew chief Paul Wolfe) and I were just talking about it. We’re like, ‘What’s the weather gonna be?’ I don’t know. It could rain, and it may not rain. It may rain for a little bit and dry up. I don’t know.
“There are definitely things you can change in the car to make it better in the weather either way, and that’s gonna be part of the game here, I think — which way do you want to go?
“It’s really hard to be a crew chief or driver in these situations where you have to be a weatherman to some extent. I don’t know if you guys realize it, but most of the time the weatherman is wrong, so I don’t know how to do this correctly, but that’s what it is. We’re all in the same boat. We all have the same challenge ahead of us, so it’s just how we all handle it.”
Details for Sunday’s COTA Cup race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Actor Matthew McConaughey will give the command to start engines at 2:32 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:43 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 8 a.m. … Cup qualifying is at 11 a.m. … Drivers report to their cars at 2:05 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 2:10 p.m. … Kirk Franklin will give the invocation at 2:24 p.m. … Cody Johnson will perform national anthem 2:25 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231 miles) on the 3.41-mile road course.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 32.
TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for a high of 71 degrees and a 67% chance of thunderstorms around the start of the race.
STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup
CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE: