First-time winner Daniel Suarez enjoying the moments


The only break in NASCAR’s February-to-November regular-season schedule arrived at a perfect time for Daniel Suarez.

Suarez won Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, becoming the fourth first-time winner this season, and has two weeks to relive the moment because the series is idle this weekend.

On Tuesday, Suarez reported having little sleep but a lot of fun. He was at his home in Monterrey, Mexico, continuing the victory celebration with family and friends.

“Right now I’m in a place I can only dream of,” Suarez said. “I haven’t been able to catch up on my phone. I’ve had over a thousand texts.”

Before he flew to Monterrey, Suarez detoured to Concord, N.C. to stop by the Trackhouse Racing shop and thank the members of his team who were not at Sonoma for Sunday’s win. Upon his arrival home, his mother and sister arranged a surprise welcome party. That was special, he said, except that he was really sleepy and hungry.

Asked how becoming a Cup winner has changed him, Suarez said his personal life is different but that his racing life will continue along the same line.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “In reality, everything is the same. The only difference is that we accomplished a very big goal. But life doesn’t change. We have to continue to do our job. We now know that we can do it. I know I’m a winning driver, and together we’re building something great.”

After the off weekend, the Cup Series is scheduled to race June 26 Nashville Superspeedway on NBC. It will be a “home game” of sorts for Trackhouse Racing. Although the team shop is in North Carolina, Trackhouse’s headquarters is in Nashville, where team owner Justin Marks and team president Ty Norris have homes.

At Nashville, Suarez’s car will be sponsored by Tootsie’s, one of the Nashville entertainment district’s most popular bars and a probable headquarters for a big evening celebration if Suarez or teammate Ross Chastain win.

Although Suarez won the Xfinity Series championship in 2016, his Cup career stalled, then plummeted. Driving for Gaunt Brothers Racing in 2020, he failed to qualify for the season-opening Daytona 500 and scored a seasonal high finish of 18th.

“In 2020 I hit bottom,” Suarez said. “I knew it couldn’t get any worse. That was the year I reset. It made me tougher, helped me hit the reset button. It takes a lot to put me in the ground.”

Suarez, in the last season of his agreement with Trackhouse, said he is discussing a contract renewal.

“This is my home,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere. We’re in a very, very good place here. I’m 100 percent sure something will work out.”

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)