Trackhouse Racing, Daniel Suarez deliver top 10 at ‘hometown’ track

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LEBANON, Tenn. — For as significant as Sunday’s sold-out first Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway was for NASCAR, it was as important for one team.

Trackhouse Racing car owner Justin Marks said he wants to relocate the team to Nashville, Tennessee, leading into the 2023 season. He secured a Nashville honky tonk as the car’s sponsor this weekend and held an event in downtown Nashville this week.

The team responded with its third top-10 finish of the season, placing seventh to winner Kyle Larson.

“I think there was a lot of pressure on us,” crew chief Travis Mack told NBC Sports. “We had a lot of people here, Kid Rock, (co-owner) Pitbull, brought out all the celebrities for this race and kind of like our hometown for Trackhouse. I’m just glad to put on a good showing for Justin and his family.”

Buoyed by fresher tires than many in the field, Suarez gained 14 positions in the last 70 laps to score his first top 10 since finishing ninth at Dover last month.

“It was good, a solid day,” Suarez told NBC Sports. “The car was good enough to finish right there in the top 10. … I don’t know why, but in the last couple of runs we just lost some grip in the front. I don’t know if it was the racetrack or what.

“These guys did a very good job of making adjustments. The car was fast. We showed that a couple of times. Just got to keep digging.”

That’s what this team had to do this weekend after struggling in Saturday’s practice.

“When we fired off, I thought we were in trouble,” Suarez said. “We had to make a lot of adjustments.”

Suarez’s performance Sunday moved him past Bubba Wallace into 21st in the driver points and moved Trackhouse Racing past 23XI Racing in the owner points.

That puts Trackhouse Racing ahead of the other two new Cup teams: 23XI Racing and Live Fast Motorsports.

“It’s funny,” Mack said, “Daniel is talking about being disappointed with (finishing) seventh. … That’s the way we’ve been. We get top 10s and we’re still disappointed. We’ll keep digging and we always want more.”

The performance came on a weekend that Suarez mourned the death of Skip Eyler, who was his crew chief in the K&N Pro Series East in 2013-14 and played an instrumental part in his career.

“We didn’t have a lot of budget and he made a lot with a little,” Suarez said of Eyler in the K&N series. “I was trying to make a lot with a little as well. We won a few races and that gave us the opportunity to go to the national series.

“He was a very hard-working person. Good family person. I just make friends through my career and he was one of them. We stayed in touch the entire time. … He was probably one of my biggest fans.

“Early in the year, he got cancer. He got surgery and everything went good. He had COVID. He went through COVID. He made it through and a few weeks ago, he got the return of the cancer.”

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole

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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).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

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.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA

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Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.

 

Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at goprn.com. …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.

NASCAR Friday schedule at Circuit of the Americas

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NASCAR’s new Cup Series aerodynamic package for short tracks and road courses will be tested in competition on a road circuit for the first time this weekend as the tour stops at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

All three major national series will be in action at the 3.41-mile, 20-turn track this weekend. The schedule begins Friday with practice for all three series and qualifying for Xfinity and Trucks.

MORE: Drivers say North Wilkesboro’s worn surface will be challenging

The Friday practice was added for Cup teams because of the new competition package, providing 50 minutes of on-track time for adjustments. Teams also will be racing with a new tire compound this weekend.

Chase Elliott (2021) and Ross Chastain (2022) are winners from the previous Cup races at COTA. Elliott won the inaugural event in a race shortened by rain, and Chastain won after a last-lap battle with AJ Allmendinger and Alex Bowman. The victory was Chastain’s first in the series.

A look at Friday’s schedule:

Circuit of the Americas (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Thunderstorms in the morning. Mostly sunny later. High of 87 with an 80% chance of rain.

Friday, March 24

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 11:30 a.m. .- 6:30 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 1:30 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. — Cup practice (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 8 p.m. on FS1)
  • 4:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck practice (No live broadcast)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Truck qualifying (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 9 p.m. on FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 7 – 8 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)