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Circuit of the Americas 101: First road-course rodeo of 2023

NASCAR 3/23/2023 Cameron Richardson
Circuit of the Americas 101: First road-course rodeo of 2023 © Dylan Buell Getty Images Circuit of the Americas 101: First road-course rodeo of 2023 Five races down in the 2023 Cup Series season and the first trek to a road course awaits this weekend. There are story lines aplenty to keep an eye on with exciting entrants and rule changes that will shake up strategies on Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.

To get ready for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (Sun. 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), let’s look at some trends to watch, rule changes for Sunday, notable moments and the on-track schedule for the weekend in Austin, Texas.


Joining Mexico’s Daniel Suárez in Sunday’s event will be English driver Jenson Button and Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen.

Button will pilot the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford with support from Stewart-Haas Racing and Mobil 1. The 43-year-old is a 15-time winner in Formula 1 and claimed the 2009 championship. Räikkönen returns to Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 initiative after making his Cup Series debut last year at Watkins Glen where he crashed out in the final stage after running inside the top 20 for the majority of the race.

RELATED: See entry list for Sunday


For all Cup races on road courses this season, there will be no cautions at the end of stages. Instead, the race will remain under green while stage points are still rewarded to the top 10 at the conclusion of Stage 1 (Lap 15) and Stage 2 (Lap 30). It will be the first time the Cup Series has gone without stage cautions in a points-paying race since the onset of stages at the beginning of the 2017 season.

The GEICO Restart Zone will return to its 2022 dimensions after it was extended for the first five races of this season.

The choose rule will also be in effect for the first time at a road course this season.

Cup cars will run the same tire codes that were used on road courses all last season. One code is used on the left front and right rear and the other on the right front and left rear.

In the event of a lost wheel that is contained to pit road, the offending team will be subject to a pass-through penalty under green-flag conditions. If the infraction occurs during a caution period, the offending team will restart at the tail end of the field.

If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty, plus a two-race suspension for two crew members. Each penalty is series-specific: Violations in one series will not impact those crew members‘ eligibility to participate in other series.

After the race at Phoenix, competition officials issued a safety violation for the loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle (Sections A&C) to the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford driven by Aric Almirola. Crew members Ryan Mulder (front tire changer) and Sean Cotten (jack) were suspended for two races.

RELATED: See rules changes for 2023


— Chevrolet has won 11 of the last 12 road-course Cup races.

— Christopher Bell is the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver with a top-five finish this season (three times).

— Ross Chastain is the only driver on Sunday that owns top fives in the first two races at COTA.

— Three drivers scored their first career Cup win on a road course in 2022.

— The race winner led five laps or less in the last two road course races.

MORE: See betting favorites for Sunday’s race | Projected COTA results


2021: Larson wins rain-soaked debut at COTA | WATCH

2022: Chastain, Bowman, Allmendinger battle for win on final lap | WATCH


Friday, March 24

— 2:05 p.m. ET: Cup practice (Will air on tape delay on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET)

Saturday, March 25— 11:30 a.m. ET: Cup qualifying (FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 26

— 3:30 p.m. ET: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

RELATED: Full COTA weekend schedule


Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.

There‘s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.

Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the shop and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waving the green flag at qualifying.



Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 2, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!


Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week, in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.

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