International, NASCAR

NASCAR Weekly: Chaotic first race at COTA

NASCARMedia / Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Chase Elliott won the first NASCAR race at Circuit of The Americas – The race had to be stopped early due to rain showers

NASCAR Cup Series (by: André Wiegold)

Last weekend, the debut of the NASCAR Cup Series at the Circuit of The Americas (COTA) was on the agenda. It was the first time that a NASCAR race was held on a track designed by track architect Hermann Tielke and the rain made it a real mess with an early stop.

The lucky winner was Chase Elliott, who was leading the race when NASCAR had to wave the red flag and stop the race. The 2020 champion had a lot of luck in the process as calculations showed Elliott was too low on fuel to finish the race without another pit stop. Second place went to Kyle Larson, who might have inherited the win if the race had not been stopped.

Credits: NASCARMedia / Chris Graythen/Getty Images

NASCAR did not restart the race because conditions on the track did not allow for further racing. In particular, water was backing up on the back straight, which is why visibility was zero. Race control was already struggling with these conditions at the beginning of the race and initially allowed the race to continue until two serious crashes occurred. NASCAR probably didn’t want to risk another crash, which is why Elliott was declared the winner.

NASCAR Xfinity Series (by: André Wiegold)

The NASCAR Xfinity Series race at COTA was won by Kyle Busch. He beat Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger, who failed to catch Busch in the closing laps. Justin Allgaier finished third ahead of Kevin Harvick and Xfinity champion Austin Cindric. The race in NASCAR’s second division was run completely in the dry.

Credits: NASCARMedia / Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Chase Briscoe, who recorded his best Cup result to date with a sixth-place finish in the Cup race at COTA, will return to the Xfinity Series with B.J. McLeod Motorsports on the Roval at Charlotte. He will pilot the #99 car on the oval and circuit hybrid.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (By: Simon Mones)

This past weekend also marked the debut of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at COTA near Austin, Texas. As it was the case throughout the weekend, rain played a major role. Todd Gilliland (DGR Crosley) did not let that stop him.

Even a penalty at the end of the first race segment – which temporarily cost him the lead – only briefly set the 21-year-old back. From the back of the field, Gilliland started a fabulous race to catch up. With nine laps to go, the DGR Crosley driver was already back in second place and four laps later took the lead, which he defended all the way to the finish against Kaz Grala.

“I definitely did a lot of stuff wrong but that’s what I love about road course racing, there’s 20 turns here, 20 opportunities to pass, but also make mistakes,’’ Gilliland said. “Last year, we didn’t quite have the season we knew we could and just to come out here and win early, we’ve been building momentum and for my team to get this win is just amazing.’’

Credits: NASCAR Media / Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

For the 21-year-old, it was only his second Truck Series win and his first of the year. As the race in Austin was part of the Triple Truck Challenge, Gilliland also secured an additional 50,000 US dollars (41,000 euros) in prize money.

No race at Mosport in 2021 either

Just days after the inaugural race at COTA, NASCAR removed another race from the calendar. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the series will not be able to start at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park again this year.

Originally, a playoff race was to be held there this year, but instead the trucks will now race a second time on the Darlington oval, as they did last year. This means another triple-header will take place on Labor Day weekend.

“We are proud to expand our traditional Labor Day weekend of racing to once again host all three national series,” said track president Kerry Tharp. “We expect more of the same high-quality racing over Labor Day Weekend – especially with playoff implications on the line.”