Friday 5: How did it come to this for Kyle Busch?


Less than four months before the season ends, a two-time Cup champion — and arguably one of the greatest talents of his generation — remains unsigned for next year. 

It seems unfathomable that Kyle Busch doesn’t have a contract extension. The reality, though, is that a series of events have led to this situation. 

Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson summed it up to NBC Sports this week, saying: “We’re in a bad place right now.”

While Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing seek to keep Busch — who has been with the team since 2008 — Wilson admits that contingency plans are being contemplated.

But how did it get to this?

Joe Gibbs Racing typically completes contract extensions with its drivers either before or early into the final year of their deal. The team announced that it had signed Busch and Mars, Inc. to contract extensions on Feb. 28, 2019 — 11 days after the Daytona 500. Those extensions go through this season.

The team did the same thing with Denny Hamlin and FedEx, announcing their most recent contract extensions on Feb. 1, 2021. The most recent contract extension for Martin Truex Jr. was announced Feb. 10, 2021. Both of those deals came before the Daytona 500.

JGR hoped for similar timing this year before Mars, Inc. informed the team last summer that it would not return after this year. The announcement was made last December.

As spring turned to summer and JGR had not announced an extension for Busch, questions were raised. 

After Busch won the dirt race at Bristol in April, Coy Gibbs, vice chairman and chief operating officer of JGR, was asked about the sponsor search for the No. 18 team.

“We’ve got a couple people we’re talking to, so we’re excited about that, excited about the leads,” Coy Gibbs said.

Wilson told NBC Sports that a potential sponsor for Busch’s car fell through earlier this year. He said that Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing are working on various plans. 

“Joe and I talk every night,” Wilson said of car owner Joe Gibbs. “This is the most important consideration that we are struggling with and working on. Our resolve has not changed one bit. We are not going to quit. … Sometimes these deals come together very late.”

Asked how he thought this would end, Wilson told NBC Sports: “I wish I could handicap it for you … but I just can’t. We’re in a bad place right now … we’ve got some tremendously heavy lifting in front of us.”

Sources tell NBC Sports that the potential sponsor that fell through was Oracle, a technology corporation based in Austin, Texas.

In February, Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing announced that Oracle would be its new title sponsor. Sports Pro Media reported that the five-year deal was worth around $300 million.

But a recent report from The Information, which details the technology industry, stated that Oracle has discussed a $1 billion cost-cutting initiative that could lead to thousands of layoffs as early as August. That’s after a June earnings call in which Oracle announced revenues were up 5% year-over-year for fiscal 2022 fourth quarter.

While shares of Oracle stock rose 2.69% Thursday to $74.54, the company closed $31.80 below its 52-week high of $106.34. That’s a 29.9% decrease from the company’s 52-week high. 

Moving on from Oracle, Joe Gibbs Racing’s quest remains — find a sponsor or sponsors to be on the No. 18 car for nearly the entire season, which Mars did through its brands. 

Without significant sponsorship, a team cannot pay what a two-time Cup champion is worth.

Joe Gibbs said last week that “I’m surprised at this point that we haven’t been able to get that (deal) finished.”

Busch told reporters last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that he’s talked to other teams. 

All-Star Race
Kyle Busch has won 56 of Joe Gibbs Racing’s 198 career Cup victories. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The only high-profile car known to be open for next season is the No. 10 car at Stewart-Haas Racing. Aric Almirola announced in January that he would retire from full-time Cup competition, but he said last weekend that “decision makers” have asked him about returning, whether that is part-time or full-time. If so, that would take away that option for Busch.

Since there are limited openings for next season, one alternative for Joe Gibbs Racing and Busch could be to sign a one-year deal with a reduced salary. Such a deal could provide more time for JGR to find sponsorship for 2024 with the intent of a much larger salary for Busch. 

While that might not be the most appealing prospect for Busch, it would keep him with one of the sport’s top organizations for a year and could provide him with more potential suitors next season. 

Stewart-Haas Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske, Richard Childress Racing and Trackhouse Racing are among winning teams that could have an opening after the 2023 season based on current contracts. 

Even if many of those teams pass on Busch, all it would take is one other team to be interested to drive up the salary for Busch.

“We’ve been pretty consistent since the end of last season, which is we want Kyle to be in the 18 car and that’s our plan,” Dave Alpern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, said in early July. “We’re still working on sponsorship.

“As much interest as there is in our sport, these take a long time. Admittedly, this one’s taken a little longer than we thought. It’s not for lack of interest. It’s just trying to get everything put together. (An extension for Busch and new sponsor deal) will probably happen in parallel. 

“We’re hoping to get something decided here in the very near future.”

If not, then what?

That is a reality Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing don’t want to envision.

“Any scenario that doesn’t have Kyle Busch retiring from Joe Gibbs racing and Toyota would be a monstrous disappointment,” Wilson said in May.

2. Climbing the charts

Putting a street race in Chicago next season continues a trend by NASCAR in the past four years to place events in some of the country’s largest TV markets.

Since 2018, NASCAR has added Cup races in:

  • Los Angeles, the No. 2 TV market in the country (Clash at the Coliseum in 2022)
  • Chicago, the No. 3 TV market (2023 street course race)
  • St. Louis, the No. 23 TV market (World Wide Technology Raceway in 2022)
  • Nashville, the No. 29 TV market (Nashville Superspeedway in 2021)
  • Austin, the No. 38 TV market (Circuit of the Americas in 2021)

Next year, the Cup Series will have races either in or within an hour’s drive of Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth (No. 5 TV market), San Francisco (No. 6 TV market) and Atlanta (No. 7 TV market). 

NASCAR touted that more than two-thirds of the fans attending the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum had not purchased a ticket for a NASCAR race previously. The event attracted an crowed estimated at more than 50,000 and Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing development and strategy, called it an “incredible day.”

In announcing the first Cup street course race in NASCAR’s history, Kennedy said before a Chicago audience it was a “monumental day.”

One wonders what word he uses to describe NASCAR’s next move. While it might be a year or so away, NASCAR isn’t done with changes to the schedule.

“We want to continue to explore new markets,” Kennedy said.

“We’ve talked a lot about the Pacific Northwest. We’ve talked a lot about the Northeast area. That’s an important market for us. 

“Even internationally as well. I don’t know that there will be a day, at least in the short term, that we’ll go necessarily overseas, but there might be an opportunity for us, sometime in the future, to go north of the border up to Canada, or to go to Mexico. 

“Not sure what that looks like. That’s probably a little bit of a longer-term vision for us, but certainly putting all cards on the table.”

Even with those races in big markets, Trackhouse Racing team owner Justin Marks told NBC Sports that NASCAR’s moves aren’t bypassing some of the sport’s traditional sites.

“I think they are walking that line between being … very creative in how they develop the sport for the future, while also making sure they are committed to the events that, for decades, have gotten us here,” he said.

NASCAR’s schedule this season includes two races in Darlington, Bristol and Martinsville — traditional venues in small markets. Each track hosts a playoff race. The playoffs begin in Darlington with the Southern 500, the cutoff race in the first round is at Bristol and Martinsville hosts the final race before the championship event in Phoenix. 

3. Ahead of his time

Four years ago, Justin Marks called for NASCAR to run a street course event, saying “I’m a huge believer you have to take your product to the people. 

“In 2012, I went to the Long Beach Grand Prix as a competitor in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, and I remember spending the weekend at that race there looking around at 100,000 people and thinking that 90,000 of these people aren’t racing fans. They’re here because it’s a great cultural event.”

The sentiment remains true about street course events. They’re as much a party as a racing event. 

That concept has kept the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach a relevant part of the California city for 47 years.

Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, told NBC Sports that about 65% of the people attending the race weekend “are not what you would call traditional racing fans. 

“When you think about how you’re going to organize an event, you have to keep in mind that these aren’t individuals who are committed to driving, 30, 40, 50, 100 miles and spending a day or two or three camping or doing whatever they want to do to watch racing.

“These people are coming into a downtown setting, which hopefully, has all the allurements and attractions that the downtown race venue has, and are coming to enjoy racing, yeah to a certain degree. 

“The fact is our event is a three-day festival. It has a variety of different activities, whether it’s concerts, whether it’s a large expo, whether it’s a kid’s zone, whether it’s a car show, hospitality options, all of those things need to be part and parceled in the composition of the event so that there is something amongst that whole milieu that people say, ‘You know what? I’m attracted to that,’ and that causes them to come.”

Marks not only has a role as owner of Trackhouse Racing but in the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix through the streets of Nashville. The Aug. 7 event will mark the second running. 

“The whole conversation about how to have a successful event has got nothing to do with the race, really,” Marks told NBC Sports. “It’s just got to do with all the peripheral experience.”

As part of the announcement that NASCAR will race on the streets of Chicago next year is that there would be various concerts and entertainment options for those attending.

“We’ve really placed an emphasis particularly on making sure that we expose young people to this opportunity,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said after Tuesday’s announcement. “We’ve done it with everything. We’re doing it, for example with Lollapalooza, where they get a behind-the-scenes opportunity. So we just see the opportunities to really build great deep synergies with the residents in Chicago.”

4. Waiting on a phone call

Ty Dillon’s departure from the No. 42 Petty GMS Motorsports car at the end of the season could provide an opportunity for Noah Gragson.

Black Rifle Coffee Company has sponsored Dillon’s car in six Cup races this season, including the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race. The company also has been on Gragson’s JR Motorsports Xfinity car all season.

Also, Dave Elenz, crew chief for Erik Jones on the No. 43 Petty GMS car, was the crew chief for Gragson the previous three seasons. He could provide Gragson a familiar face in the building.

Whether it is Gragson or any other JR Motorsports driver, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he looks forward to hearing from his drivers when they have a Cup opportunity.

“I can’t wait for the phone to ring for any of our four guys to get a call,” Earnhardt said. “I want to know about it as soon as it happens. I can’t wait to help them to make a decision of whether that is a smart move or not.

“I was in the foyer of my house when Aric Almirola called me (in 2011). He said, ‘I got some tough news.’ He said ‘Richard Petty has called me to see …’

“You’ve got to go.’ I didn’t even let him finish his sentence. That’s it. That’s what we do this for. ‘This is your chance.’ I was so happy. That’s like a win. That’s like a trophy. … It’s kind of getting pulled up from the minors. It could happen any minute. In the middle of the year.

“I’m excited anytime that happens and the potential for Noah to have that opportunity. I’m waiting. I’m waiting to hear that phone ring any second for him and for any of our guys.”

5. Searching for first win of the year

Here’s a look at playoff-eligible drivers searching for their first win this season who have won at the remaining tracks in the regular season.

Pocono — Kevin Harvick (2020), Martin Truex Jr. (2018, 2015), Ryan Blaney (2017), Chris Buescher (2016), Brad Keselowski (2011)

Indianapolis road course — None

Michigan — Ryan Blaney (2021), Kevin Harvick (twice in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2010)

Richmond — Martin Truex Jr. (2021, twice in 2019), Brad Keselowski (2020, 2014), Kevin Harvick (2013, 2011, 2006) 

Watkins Glen — Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Kevin Harvick (2006)

Daytona — Ryan Blaney (2021), Michael McDowell (2020), Justin Haley (2019), Erik Jones (2018), Austin Dillon (2018), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017), Brad Keselowski (2016), Aric Almirola (2014), Kevin Harvick (2010, 2007)

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

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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


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.

What drivers said at Circuit of the Americas


What drivers had to say during and after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas:

Tyler Reddick — Winner: “It means the world. This whole 23XI team has been working so hard all winter long to make the road course program better. Was extremely motivated to come in here and prove that performance, too. Just so proud of this Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD. Toyota, everybody, all the resources they’ve been putting into this to help turn around the road course program means a lot. I’m out of gas. But I feel a little bit better with Monster Energy. I really had to dial it up there at the end to get an advantage. I was making mistakes on every single restart. I was able to make it a little better there in the end. … Obviously, there was a lot of cautions at the end. I mean, the way that things kind of have progressed, the front and rear bumpers of this car are really resilient. You can really hit someone pretty hard without knocking the nose of your car out. The rear bumpers are really tough, too. We saw that at the Clash, people being able to lean on each other front to rear. It kind of brings that to light at the end of these races. But seriously, though, you look at Turn 1 here, Turn 1 at Indy road course, they’re very inviting corners with a lot of room. It’s just a product of restarts and the nature of NASCAR racing and how aggressive all the drivers are. Someone’s going to be on the short end.”

MORE: COTA Cup results, driver points

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “I don’t know if we could have (beaten Tyler Reddick). Even if we were on equal tires, when we tested here, they were lights out. Had us beat on the frontside of the runs. We needed longer runs. Even today we didn’t have great long-run speed. We had great middle-run speed. Overall, for as much effort and everything that we’ve put into coming here and focusing on this place, all the testing and everything we’ve been able to do during the off-season, come out here with a really good finish. Tyler obviously is a really good road racer. He proved it driving this car here last year. I was able to get in it and run right back to him. I’ve been trying to emulate the things he did in order to make this car fast last year, but not quite all the way there. They had a whale of a car.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 3rd: “It probably wouldn’t have been that bad if my interior stuff worked. When this Coolshirt doesn’t work, it just heat soaks, kind of cooks you. I’m hot. It stopped working pretty early. I don’t have issues with stuff from Hendrick Motorsports very often. Shout-out to all the guys back at the shop. This road crew, I’m not the greatest road course racer, so to come here and run top five again means a lot. It was a hot day. Proud of the 45 (Tyler Reddick). A heck of a road course racer. Fastest car definitely won today. Wish our Ally Camaro was a couple spots better. All in all, a good day for us. (On post-race talk with Daniel Suarez): He just thought I drove in and tried to drive through him. I had the corner made. Only reason I was inside of the 99 was to protect from the 1. Then the 1 just hammered me in the corner, dumped me, then I ran into the 99, kind of cleaned him out. Daniel and I, we’ve been teammates in the past, raced together a long time. I respect the hell out of him. I’m sure he’s still not super happy. Just tried to explain that I wouldn’t race him like that, that I was shoved in there. You see that a lot at these road courses. Indy last year, Harvick was super mad at me and crashed me. Then he watched the video, and he was like, ‘Man, I crashed the wrong guy.’ Sometimes just it’s a chain reaction. Fortunately, it worked out for us, ended up with a top five.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 4th: “When we got spun, I think we restarted down at Niece Equipment south of town. To come back to a top five was a top effort for our Worldwide Express team. I thought we were a top-five car all day. Thought the 45 (Tyler Reddick) had us covered. There was a line of Chevys second through sixth. It was about positioning each other while we were saving fuel, then racing each other, whoever was in front was going to be pretty good. Another top five here. I love this place. I love road course racing. But the fight to get better never stops. I know there’s things I can be doing better.”

William Byron — Finished 5th: “It was all right. I probably could have done better on those restarts. I gotta look. I just kept getting pushed wide, and it seemed like the last one didn’t happen for some reason. I just gave up too much track position. It was really my only option. Good to get a top five. We had a good racecar; I think a top-two racecar really, with the 45. He was a lot better than everybody, but I thought we were a close second. It was really fun. Tyler is great, and they were great all weekend. Tyler’s been great on the road courses. We made it a battle for sure every time with crossovers, out-braking each other — that was a lot of fun. I hate that it kind of got down to restarts there at the end. I got shoved off one time in second. We needed a top five and probably could have done some things different.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 6th: “Great to lay some laps. Good to be able to show some speed in our Discount Tire Ford Mustang. It’s one of those days where you win or lose as a team. There were quite a few miscues on pit road that probably kept us from having the track position. Then, it’s a fight. Fair recovery to finish sixth. A lot of things had to go our way for those restarts. But for a long, hot day, we never gave up.”

Chris Buescher — Finisned 8th: “It was our first bumper car race of the year. Our Fifth Third Ford Mustang ended up pretty solid there toward the end. We got a solid top 10 out of it. That’s a big testament to this team and its ‘never give up’ attitude. I started into the 30s for the day, 32nd. I had to really power through, and we had some issues there that probably came from getting run into… backward a couple times. But I’m proud of everybody. That was a good finish for a really hard-fought day.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 9th: “I’m sure it was entertaining. We had a really great first half of the race and then we had an issue with our lugnut – lost a lot of time and I got two penalties. I just have to minimize mistakes. We will take it.”

Todd Gilliland — Finished 10th: “The restarts were really good for us, even in the very beginning of the race. We were able to fire off and gain a lot of spots right off the bat. So, after that, we had fallen off a little worse than everyone else, but our fire-off speed was probably top-five to 10 every time. It was really nice to have some speed there, and to be really aggressive on the restarts. Most of them worked out really well. I got spun once, but we were able to rebound up to 10th or so. That’s good —  15th and 10th the last two races. That’s something to build on.”

Jenson Button — Finished 18th:  “It was an emotional rollercoaster. First, it was terrible. I mean, I must’ve been last by the end of it. And I was just like, ‘Everyone: Go. I just need to drive and find a rhythm.’ I’ve never gone through a corner too wide so often. And trying to place my car in the right place — I just got it wrong every time. Normally, if you’re a little bit slow through a corner, nobody tries to overtake you from the outside. Because they’re not going to make it all the way on the next one. But here they do, because they get a wheel inside for the next one, and if you turn in, you turn around. The first stint was really bad — it was embarrassing for me. I was like, ‘All right guys, we need to pit, freshen the tires and I need some air – I need some fresh air.’ I got that. The pace was good, consistency was good. I was really happy — and passed a few cars, which was nice. We got a little bit unlucky with the safety car because it was just two laps before our window. Pitted, then the next stint was mayhem. We also made a couple of changes that just didn’t work. Big oversteer —  went from the car feeling great to really difficult to drive. I also had a massive whack from Kimi (Räikkönen), and it fell off after that. The car wasn’t quite right. Every time I turned in, the rear tires would chatter, then immediately to oversteer. It was really difficult, but toward the end, we made some good calls stopping and putting on fresh tires. I enjoyed the last three restarts — got good placement and good overtaking moves from the outside. Finished 18th after almost stopping because I had heat exhaustion. It was so hot, I don’t have a fan in my seat which really didn’t help me too much. It was so hot, I thought I was going to faint in the car. So, I stopped twice for a minute. They put ice on me, gave me loads of water, and I went back out. I was so close to getting out of the car because I thought I was going to faint. I must’ve drunk eight or nine bottles of water during the race. The team kept me calm, and it’s the reason why we got a good result in the end. So, I was happy.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 20th: “Had a solid day in our Black Rifle Coffee Camaro. We ran inside the top 10 and top 15 for a large part of the day with good speed. We kept working on the car. Luke Lambert and the rest of the guys called a great strategy. The pit crew did an awesome job. We put ourselves in position during the green-white-checkers to be in the top 10. I ended up getting spun and rallied back. We never quit.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 21st: “Certainly, wasn’t the day we were looking for. Starting in the back we managed to gain quite a few spots early but got hit really hard in the left rear and had to make repairs. Glad we had a shot late for a decent finish, but those overtime restarts are crazy and sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.”

Erik Jones — Finished 23rd: “Frustrating day here in at COTA. I felt like we had a pretty fast Allegiant Chevy, but it seemed like we kept getting hit. There were a couple times there on restarts that we just flat got ran over. Wrong place wrong time for sure, and it stinks that we weren’t really able to have anything to show for the speed we had. I’m thankful that we were able to show as much promise as we did early on with a good run in qualifying, and I can tell we are moving in the right direction at Legacy Motor Club. On to Richmond.”

Jordan Taylor — Finished 24th: “Yeah, it was definitely wild. I wouldn’t say I survived; I feel like I’m beat up pretty much. Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side. So, yeah, it was pretty much just survival. The guys knew I’d be a little bit more hesitant, so they would take advantage of it. At the end, I got more aggressive and made our way almost back to the top 10. On the last restart, I don’t know who went down on the inside, but they were never going to make the corner and used us to stop themselves. I’d say it was a disappointing day. I made a couple big mistakes early on that probably put us back there, but the No. 9 UniFirst Chevy was fast. I need to thank UniFirst and Hendrick Motorsports for giving me the opportunity. We had good pace, but we just got shuffled back every restart. Tough day.”

Joey Logano — Finished 28th: “We had a decent day going with the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Paul (Wolfe) made some good strategy calls to gain track position. Felt like we had a top-10 car, but depending on how the end played out maybe a top-five. The restarts at the end normally play out that way and we ended up spun out. We’ll move on to Richmond.”

Kimi Raikkonen — Finished 29th: “I think it wasn’t too bad. We got unlucky with the incidents that happened. It was one of those things, unfortunately. Then there were no tires left. They kept coming, getting more restarts and more restarts, so I think after the spin I had, the tires were just done. It’s a shame because when we were there, but then we restart, and just wrong place, wrong time. It was a case of trying to stay out of the issues in the first corner and every time. It looked like you’d be very good, then three corners later, somebody’s going the wrong direction. There’s a bit of mess and luck involved.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 33rd: “We had a really solid run going in our Get Bioethanol Chevrolet today, so it’s disappointing that we ended up in the garage early. We didn’t qualify where we needed to, but we worked our way into the top 15 by the end of Stage 1 and earned stage points at the end of Stage 2. 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. I had nowhere to go. I don’t know if it would have worked out better for us if we chose the bottom or not. I hate it for all of the guys on this RCR team. We had a lot of good things going today, but nothing to show for it. There’s still a lot of racing to go. We’ll regroup and head to Richmond Raceway.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 38th: “What a disappointing finish. Unfortunately, we got off to a slow start yesterday and qualified poorly. We all know what happens when you start in the back and, unfortunately, we were caught up in that. Just a wild and crazy first lap that was taking place. I thought I had the wreck missed, but I just saw a flash of red out of nowhere. I guess there was more going on the outside of the No. 6 car (Brad Keselowski) as it was spinning, and I saw him and just got collected.”

COTA Cup Series results: Tyler Reddick wins


Wrecks led to a series of restarts over the closing miles in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas, but Tyler Reddick, who had the day’s fastest car, held on through all of the calamity to score his first win of the year.

Kyle Busch was second, Alex Bowman third and Ross Chastain fourth. William Byron, who challenged Reddick for supremacy most of the day, was fifth.

MORE: COTA Cup results

MORE: COTA Cup driver points

MORE: What drivers said at COTA

Reddick led 41 laps on the way to his fourth Cup win (three on road courses).

Jenson Button finished 18th in his first Cup race, and Jordan Taylor was 24th in his Cup debut.