What drivers said after inaugural COTA Cup race


Here’s what drivers said following Sunday’s inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas…

Chase Elliott – Winner: “At the end of the day, I’m not the one making the calls. I don’t want to make the calls. I can sit there and look at it and have an opinion, but it’s not my call. Like I say, I don’t want it to be my call. The track went through a bunch of different stages. The visibility further back in the pack, which I restarted back there on multiple occasions, it was super hard to see. That was really the case kind of all day long. I don’t really know how you fix that with the spray coming off the cars. I think where it got to there at the end was just there were puddles of standing water. I think that was where NASCAR got to and they’re like, Hey, this is not good. Visibility is one thing, but when you hydroplane going however fast we’re going, that’s probably not good. I think that’s kind of the situation we found ourselves in there at the end. Obviously I was on the good end of the call, so I’m okay with the race ending. But actually I think a lot of guys would say the standing water was getting pretty serious. It might have gotten better, might have not. Who knows.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 2nd: “Obviously we’d like to be winning. I feel like we did everything we could last week to win. Came up one spot short. Same thing this week. We put ourselves, had the right strategy to win. Had the race gone green at the end of the race, Chase was going to have to pit for fuel. We did everything we could again and just came up one spot short. We’ve been there every weekend. We’ve been challenging. You got to be happy with that. Like I said, we want the wins, but if you can’t win, second’s better than third.”

Joey Logano – Finished 3rd: “Honestly, I thought the racing was pretty fun. We won’t know what it’s like when it’s dry much, but there was definitely passing zones. You could pass cars. It’s one of the best road courses I think I’ve gone to when it comes to race-ability. You’re not stuck behind somebody all the time. There are passing zones and things you can do, so, yeah. Our road course stuff has been good lately. I’m pretty proud of our finish. If everything cycles out, we cycle back to second, which it didn’t obviously with (Chase Elliott). I wasn’t good enough to beat (Kyle Larson) on the long run for sure, but we’re making progress on them.”

Ross Chastain – Finished 4th: “Fourth place, solid day. Car was fast in the rain. My goodness. Just keep it on track was my plan, and we did that. I had a few close calls, and we did get into a few people, but I think a lot of people did. Learned a lot and this girl (taps watermelon), is going to have to wait for another day. Close, and its cool to be disappointed with a top five. Congrats to Chevrolet on their 800th win. Is that possible? The Clover Chevy…..there were some guests, some Clover guests and there were a ton of Clover machines on property today. Awesome stuff. I was proud of the effort of relaying through our spotters of Josh Wise and Scott Speed. The Skip Barber Racing School here at COTA taught me a ton in the last year at road racing and in the rain. Thank you boys and girls, thank you CGR, and on to the next.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 6th: “It was crazy with the conditions. With the Roval, I felt like I was gonna have a pretty good understanding of what it was gonna be like, but we’re just going so much faster here that the vision was way worse. The grip level, I felt like was honestly a little bit better, but you just couldn’t see. There could be a guy stopped in the middle of the straightaway and you would have hit him wide-open, so between that and hydroplaning it was definitely challenging. Overall, it was good for us. I felt like we passed a lot of cars today. We continue to make our car better and this is the type of run we needed where we were up front a lot of the day.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 7th: “The beginning of the race wasn’t too bad. We started out on kind of a damp track and then obviously rain started coming down. It was a lot of fun in the first little bit, but those restarts, once the rain started really coming down was so treacherous. Our cars don’t spray like a sports car or an open-wheel car that has ground effects or a rear diffuser. It doesn’t shoot it in the air. It stays on the ground, so you just can’t see the car in front of you. It was super treacherous. The back straightaway accident there was completely my fault. I saw a brake light, but I couldn’t see anything else. Normally, you’re looking for the bridge for your braking markers, looking for something, but I could not see anything so I just rolled out of the gas. Obviously, the guys behind me didn’t and I hate that, but I literally could not see anything. The conditions were really treacherous. Once the cars got single filed out you were OK, but as soon as you got within four or five car lengths of a car it was pretty tough to see, and it always is in the rain, but a little bit different in our cars. And then at the end with the heavy rain our cars just hydroplane so bad that you just go down the straightaway and lose it, so those are always really dangerous when you’re hydroplaning down the straightaway. But, at the same time, it’s the same for everybody so you’re always in the same conditions and have to manage them the best you can, but at the same time I felt really unsafe at the end there just making laps by myself trying to hold onto a top 10 finish.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 8th: “I think the cars drove well today. We had a really good race car. Congrats to the (No.) 9 team. Really cool to see him get a win. Now all four of us have wins. … I just feel like I’ve got to catch up to my teammates on these road courses. We’re really fast, they are, and we run OK, but I just need a little bit more.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 9th: “To start the day off in COTA with my first NASCAR Cup Series pole was unreal. Our No. 8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet was so fast, and that is a huge testament to all the hard work everyone does at RCR, ECR and Chevrolet. Road racing has been a big challenge in my career and I’ve worked really hard to get better at it. The race today was wild. It was so difficult to see out there with the rain, but my spotters did a good job of helping me navigate around the track. We came back through the field a handful of times for a variety of reasons during the day, so we definitely had the speed to compete. It was just really tough out there and we just needed a little more time. I’m thankful we were able to get both stage points and a top-10 finish out of the day, but I wish we were somehow able to finish the day safely. I would have loved to get this Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet and their 40+ veteran team members that were riding along with me a little farther up, but hopefully I made them proud with our effort today. Congrats also to Chevrolet on 800 wins in NASCAR. Hopefully we’re part of the next one.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 10th: “It’s all discretion, it’s all a discretion call on how much rain is too much rain. We certainly found today that there were definitely times with too much rain and too much puddling. They would clean it off and it was just sprinkling, it was fine after that, no issues after that. Single-file restarts was a smart idea. We’re doing all we can and we’re trying to put on a show for the fans.”

William Byron – Finished 11th: “Yeah, we honestly wanted to win today, and I thought we were in a great position and I just kind of jumped the gun on pitting too early. I got the rain tires on the car and we were a little too dry for it and wore them out. We were running fifth there in Stage 1 and the 21 got into us and tore the right rear up and we just had a bunch of damage after that. To finish 11th is awesome for this Liberty University Chevrolet team. They did a great job repairing it, but it never really drove the same because I think it knocked the rear end out of place. To finish 11th after that is good, it’s a bummer, but I thought for sure we would get a top 10 the way it was going and just unfortunately the rain came too hard. But it was a blast, I enjoyed it, and congrats to Chevrolet on their big win, and to Hendrick Motorsports. Getting close to breaking that record, so hopefully we can do it next week.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 12th: “That was one of the craziest days I’ve ever had racing, so it feels good to get our career-best road course finish in the NASCAR Cup Series in the No. 3 Workrise Chevrolet today! It was nuts. Crazy stuff was happening all over the track. We got to race in the rain, and that made for some unique conditions. Our Workrise Chevy was fast today, but the key to this race was survival. Visibility was an issue, especially down the backstretch. We had two penalties and still came back to finish 12th, so I’m pretty proud of that. Congratulations to Chevrolet on 800 wins. Let’s go to the next one.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 13th: “We were in the ballpark for competitiveness. I thought the setup stuff was pretty good in a lot of different scenarios. We fought some brake issues all day since qualifying and that’s what we’re talking about and trying to get to the bottom of because that held us back today. That’s what kept us from being able to drive a lot harder, so trying to diagnose some of that will really help put everything into perspective and help figure out what was going on because we had a lot of speed in the car.”

Erik Jones – Finished 16th: “Decent day for the Lonely Entrepreneur Chevy. Made gains all day but the race getting called early cost us some spots. Felt good to have some better speed at the end, just have to keep improving at the road courses.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 17th: “You couldn’t see a thing. I thought down the backstretch was pretty dangerous because you just can’t see anything. I got run over pretty hard by somebody not seeing anything and just clobbered me, and it happened a couple other times. That was pretty wild not being able to see nothing. It was one of those deals.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 21st: “You’re just learning and adapting the whole time as the rain strengthens and weakens, so it’s a moving target. But there the last 15 or 20 laps, I really found the groove. Really ran some good laps and wish we could have kept racing and ran some more. I think we could have had an even better finish. Proud of where we ended up. We had a couple issues on pit road that kind of got us behind and that loose wheel kind of put us behind on that last stage restart. Grateful for the opportunity and thankful to Bass Pro Shops and Black Rifle Coffee.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 35th: “The only way to describe it is you can’t see anything so I mean it’s, you just mash the gas and going through the gears on the backstretch praying that nobody’s going to be there and all of a sudden I seen the tail light flash, and I was already in through him. It happens that fast when you’re going that fast and then my thought was that once I hit that guy , I need to try to keep going because I knew they were coming from behind, and literally next thing I know, again, I get drilled so I mean, there’s just nothing you can do in those situations. A shame for Bass Pro and Tracker and all our guys and girls are working on these things. Sorry, we got behind there just. We got a little oil windshield at some point there and I literally couldn’t see anything and I had to pit and we got off sequence in the back there and then it’s you know it’s really, really hard to see back there so it’s I don’t know it’s hard, it’s really hard to race like that if you’re not in the top, you know couple cars and we’re not sure how we can make it easier or better but, man, it’s dangerous and you just get on the backstretch every lap praying there’s nobody having an issue you know you’re praying there’s not going to be a crash or a car stuck or whatever because you’re just wide open and can’t see anything. Just wrong place, wrong time.”

Cole Custer – Finished 36th: “You just can’t see anything on that backstretch. I think the same thing happened to us at the same time, somebody was going slower and by the time you want to slow down, they’re in your front bumper so there’s no chance of you even missing it. It’s just so frustrating. We just wanted a good run and it’s just not fair to all our guys and everybody at (Stewart-Haas Racing) to have a destroyed race car for really no good reason. It’s frustrating, but we’ll move on to the next one.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 37th: “It’s the most unsafe thing I’ve ever done in a race car by a lot. You can’t see anything down the straightaways. These cars were not built to run in the rain and when you can’t see, my spotter said, ‘Check up, check up,’ because he thought he saw two cars wrecking. I let off and the guy behind me hit me wide-open because he never saw me. It’s unbelievable that we’re out there doing what we’re doing because we’re in race cars that aren’t made to do this, and if you can’t see going down the straightaway it’s absolutely not safe, not even close.”

Christopher Bell – Finished 38th: “I don’t exactly know what happened. I wasn’t sure if they were wrecking up there or what. I drove in blind and ran into the back of somebody. I was really looking forward to running my Craftsman Camry today – had a lot of fun in practice yesterday, but when you get into the pack, you’re just racing blind.”

Bubba Wallace – Finished 39th (Post-race quote from Wallace’s crew chief, Mike Wheeler): “It was just one of those things that once you got mid-pack, you just couldn’t see what was going on. Early on we were trying to talk about braking points into turn 12 and he (Bubba Wallace) just couldn’t see. We got back on a clean track and he was hitting his braking points well. Once you are back in the teens to twenties, it’s not good vision. It looked like something happened between (Ryan Blaney) and (Christopher Bell) first. I think (Kevin Harvick) was coached up to kind of check up when he was going 100 mph and we just ran in the back of him because we couldn’t see more than five feet in front of us.”

What takes place in a NASCAR appeal hearing? Here’s a look


Hendrick Motorsports is scheduled to have its appeal hearing at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.

So what will happen in the appeal hearing? Here is a look at the process, based on the NASCAR Cup Rule Book.

NASCAR penalized Hendrick Motorsports for modifications to hood louvers. Those penalties were:

  • Docked Alex BowmanKyle Larson and William Byron 100 points and 10 playoff points each.
  • Suspended crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris four races each and fined each $100,000.
  • Penalized each of the four Hendrick teams 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.

Before the appeal hearing starts, both sides — in this case, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR — must file a written summary presenting their case before the hearing.

The summary must not be longer than two single-spaced pages. Any attachments or appendices either side intends to present during the hearing must be included. Such attachments or appendices may include, but are not limited to, video, written statements, diagrams, photographs and charts.

The summary is to be filed by 5 p.m. ET two days before the beginning of the hearing. The summary shall be confidential and not released to the public. The Cup Rule Book says that releasing the summary to the public “may result in a penalty.”

The appeal will be heard by three members. They will come from a pool of panelists. The Cup Rule Book lists 19 panelists. That group includes former drivers Mike Skinner, Lake Speed, Bill Lester, Shawna Robinson and Lyn St. James, along with others in various roles in motorsports.

The Cup Rule Book states that “in seating an Appeals Panel, the Administrator shall take into consideration the panelists’ availability, background, professional experience and knowledge.”

The Cup Rule Book states “the burden rests on NASCAR to show that it is more likely than not that a violation … has occurred, and that the Penalty Notice issued is within the guidelines of the NASCAR Rules.”

Both parties are allowed in the hearing room while each side presents evidence. NASCAR goes first.

After both sides finish, there is a break before an optional rebuttal period. NASCAR has the chance to go first, followed by those appealing.

Once that is complete, NASCAR is permitted one last opportunity to “argue, explain, or present rebuttal on the facts and violation” to the appeal panel since NASCAR carries the burden of proof.

The appeal panelists may ask questions to either group or any witnesses at any time during the hearing.

Decisions by the three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel do not need to be unanimous.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel can affirm the penalty or adjust it. The panel can rescind some or all of the penalties or increase any or all penalties.

When NASCAR penalized William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Hamlin during a caution in last year’s playoff race at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports appealed. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 25-point penalty but increased his fine to $100,000. NASCAR amended its rule book after the panel’s decision.

NASCAR does not have the option to appeal the panel’s decision. Those who filed the appeal can further appeal the panel’s decision to the Final Appeal Officer. That decision can’t be appealed.

Kaulig Racing and Denny Hamlin each will go through this process when their appeals are heard. Kaulig Racing’s appeal is April 5 for modifications to a hood louver. Hamlin’s appeal is April 6 for intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain on the last lap of the Phoenix race.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron returns to No. 1


After last Sunday’s crashfest at Circuit of the Americas, the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings experienced another jumble, and William Byron returns to the top spot.

Byron took fifth place in the chaos of the triple-overtime finish. He and winner Tyler Reddick were the top dogs in the Cup Series’ first road race of the year, Byron leading 28 laps and Reddick 41. No one else led more than two laps.

MORE: COTA finish — Entertaining and messy

Christopher Bell, last week’s No. 1, fell to fifth place after a 31st-place finish at COTA.

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. William Byron (second last week) — Byron, the season’s only multiple winner with two, finished fifth Sunday, marking his career first top five on a road course. He won the pole and the first stage.

2. Kyle Busch (third last week) — Busch continues to make his new partnership at Richard Childress Racing look good. His second-place run Sunday is his fourth top-10 finish in the season’s first six races.

3. Ross Chastain (sixth last week) — Despite being pushed around in the late going Sunday, Chastain persisted, re-emerging at the front to challenge the leaders and finish fourth. He has finished in the top four in all three COTA races and leads the points standings.

4. Alex Bowman (fifth last week) — Bowman continued his seasonal consistency, finishing third at COTA. He has finished in the top 10 in five of six races.

5. Christopher Bell (first last week) — Bell falls from the top spot in the rankings after being booted from Sunday’s race in a late-race accident. He dropped three spots in the Cup points standings to fifth.

6. Joey Logano (fourth last week) — Logano was mostly absent from Sunday’s front-of-the-pack jousting. He limped home in 28th and drops two spots in the rankings.

7. Tyler Reddick (unranked last week) — Reddick bursts into the rankings in a big way, easily outclassing the rest of the field on the way to victory at COTA. Challenged repeatedly by cautions that extended the race into three overtimes, he refused to give up the shot at his first win of the year.

8. Denny Hamlin (seventh last week) — Winless this year, Hamlin nevertheless keeps popping up around the front. Sunday’s late-race mess dropped him to 16th at the checkered flag.

9. Kyle Larson (eighth last week) — Larson seemed to be the race’s pingpong ball Sunday as he was bounced around during some of the tightest racing. He rallied to reach 14th.

10. Kevin Harvick (ninth last week) — Harvick’s final season has been a mix of the good and the bad, with two top-five runs, challenges for wins and a 33rd-place finish at Atlanta. He was 13th Sunday.

Dropped out: Brad Keselowski (10th last week).


Ross Chastain after COTA race: ‘Are you not entertained?’


One driver evoked the movie “Gladiator” after Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas. Another could be penalized for his actions after the checkered flag. Others expressed dismay at what the end of the event became.

A race that had been a thrilling duel devolved into a demolition derby over the final laps, leaving feelings as bruised as some of the cars.

While Tyler Reddick celebrated his first win of the season, other drivers stewed at what the racing became. Three overtimes were needed to finish the event due to incidents in the Turn 1 hairpin. Then again, it should not have been surprising, coming a week after Kyle Busch said: “We have completely lost any sense of respect in the garage between the drivers”.

“Are you not entertained?” Ross Chastain exclaimed, evoking Russell Crowe’s famous movie line. “This is what we love. I don’t love doing it, but … as a sport we’re not boring.”

Chastain is correct, the sport is not boring. But it’s fair to ask if the sport has crossed a line. Is it OK for races to end this way? If not, how to change it is a more difficult notion.

The action has been getting more aggressive this season. It was evident in the Clash at the Coliseum when drivers charged into the corners and slammed into the back of cars as a way to slow down to make the tight turns.

Sunday marked the third time in the last four road course races that the event went to overtime. In the previous 28 road course races — dating back to 2012 — only three went to overtime.

It makes one wonder what could happen this weekend when the Cup series races at Richmond Raceway, beginning a three-week stretch at short tracks that includes the Bristol dirt race and Martinsville.

“These cars are so tough,” Chastain said. “We can run into each other. There are just lines of cars all pushing each other (on the restarts) on the brakes. Nobody is going in there saying, ‘I’m going to hit somebody,’ but it’s just the leader has to check up and it just magnifies itself.”

Chastain’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, was not happy after the race. He ran into the back of Chastain’s car, knocking him out of the way as they entered pit road and then hit the back of Bowman’s car on pit road.

Section 4.4.B of the Cup Rule Book states that drivers can be penalized for “Intentionally damaging another vehicle on pit road.” Such a penalty could result in the loss of 25-50 driver and/or team owner points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine. Violations may also result in a suspension.

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart but left the inside lane open. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to drive by and costing Suarez a top-five finish. Suarez finished 27th.

Suarez spoke briefly with Bowman before having a discussion with Chastain.

“The problem is if you don’t peek out and bomb the guy in front of you, the guy behind you does it to you,” Bowman said. “So what do you do there? It’s not right. The way we race is embarrassing, and if 12-year-olds were doing it, we’d be yelling at them, but here we are saying it’s the best thing in the world on TV.”

Chris Buescher simply called Sunday’s race “our first bumper car race of the year.”

Austin Dillon said: “The end of the race became a typical NASCAR road course race. It was just a mess. We drove up into the hill on a restart and everyone just pile drove into each other.”

Jordan Taylor, making his first Cup start as he filled in for an injured Chase Elliott, was struck by what the restarts were like.

“Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side,” he said. “So yeah, it was pretty much just survival.”


Sunday’s race was scheduled to go 68 laps but was extended to 75 laps by the late cautions.

Here is a look at the drivers who gained the most and lost the most positions from where they were running on Lap 68 to where they were running on Lap 75:

Most positions gained

18 – Kyle Larson (finished 14th)

17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (finished 7th)

16 – Kevin Harvick (finished 13th)

12 – Todd Gilliland (finished 10th)

9 – Ryan Blaney (finished 21st)

8 – Noah Gragson (finished 20th)

7 – Austin Cindric (finished 6th)

6 – Corey LaJoie (finished 11th)

Most positions lost

23 – Daniel Suarez (finished 27th)

20 – Joey Logano (finished 28th)

15 – Kimi Raikkonen (finished 29th)

12 – Christopher Bell (finished 31st)

12 – Martin Truex Jr. (finished 17th)

10 – Aric Almirola (finished 30th)

9 – Jordan Taylor (finished 24th)

6 – Michael McDowell (finished 12th)


Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch, who switched rides before this season, have both won in the first six races.

This marks the third year in a row that two drivers with new Cup rides have won so early in the year.

Last year, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain each won in the first six races of the year. Cindric had driven a few Cup races previously for Team Penske but last year was his first year in the No. 2 car. Chastain did have the same crew chief and other crew members at Trackhouse Racing after it purchased Chip Ganassi Racing.

In 2021, Kyle Larson, in his first season at Hendrick Motorsports, and Christopher Bell, in his rookie Cup season with Joe Gibbs Racing, each won within the first four races of that year.

Winners and losers at Circuit of the Americas

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A look at winners and losers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:


Tyler Reddick — Reddick needed patience and perseverance to stay in front through three overtimes to win Sunday’s race. Considering the supreme strength of his Toyota and his nearly flawless performance, losing first place in that calamity near the end would have been heartbreaking. Instead, he gives Toyota its first win of the year.

Kyle Busch — Busch never led, but he pushed through the field in the final stage, worked his way through the restarts and finished second.

William Byron — Byron appeared to have the only answer to Reddick’s power. He led 28 laps but was shuffled to fifth at the finish.

Todd Gilliland — Gilliland was in the top-15 mix through the three overtimes and worked his way to a 10th-place finish, the third of his Cup career.

Jenson Button — Former F1 champion finished 18th in his Cup debut, highest among the road course ringers. He told his team after the race on the radio that Cup drivers “are on it every second of the race” and also said that the race was a “roller coaster … a whole F1 season in one race.”


AJ Allmendinger — Always expected to be a threat at road courses, Allmendinger left the race after 60 laps with damage from an accident, finishing 34th.

Brad Keselowski — Spins limited Keselowski’s effectiveness Sunday, and he parked after 56 laps with a driveshaft issue, finishing 35th and dropping four spots in the points standings.

Bubba Wallace — The year has not started well for Wallace, who finished 37th Sunday and now has four finishes of 20th or worse in six races. He fell three spots in points.