Tyler Reddick fends off Byron and Busch for his First 23XI Win at COTA on Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.
The NASCAR Cup Series went to Austin, Texas to race the first road course of the 2023 campaign. The Circuit of the Americas hosted a 68-lap race featuring former Formula-1 champions Kimi Raikkonen and Jensen Button and IMSA racer Jordan Taylor. The NASCAR Cup Series had some road course competition as these three featured drivers are highly respected in their separate leagues. The influx of drivers from other series made this race fun to watch on Sunday.
The Polesitter William Byron Leads the Field to the Green Flag
William Byron held the pole to bring the field up the hill and into a tight first corner. He did not have the lead for long as an early caution flag was waved for an incident involving Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Chris Buescher, and Ty Dillon.
On the restart, Austin Cindric made a pass on Byron for the lead. Cindric kept the point for two laps until Tyler Reddick passed him for the top spot. Another caution came out on lap 11 after Bubba Wallace rear-ended Kyle Larson. This forced contact with Denny Hamlin as well.
Many leaders pitted as William Byron chose to stay on the track to take over the lead. William Byron controlled the restart and the remainder of the first stage for the win.
NASCAR Changes to No Stage Breaks on Road Courses
NASCAR is trying something new at road courses. The racing continued after the first stage rather than going to another caution. William Byron led for another eight laps before having to come down pit road.
He gave up the lead to Tyler Reddick on lap 24 with six laps remaining in the second segment. Reddick was able to press on with no issue to win the second stage.
Tyler Reddick Fends Off Byron and Busch for his First 23XI Win at COTA
Shortly after, Tyler Reddick made his way down pit road, William Byron took over the race lead, but Reddick came out right on his tail. Reddick retook the lead on lap 39 and the race was on.
Reddick and Byron kept trading spots and would not give an inch about one another. A flurry of cautions came out toward the end of the race, starting an overtime finish. Tyler Reddick continued to battle on these restarts and continued to hold down the lead going through the first turn.
On the final restart, Reddick was able to hold off Alex Bowman and take sole possession of the lead. Despite a wreck in the first turn, the race continued under the green flag.
Kyle Busch passed Bowman for second but did not have the pace to keep up with Reddick. Tyler Reddick was able to navigate the 20-turn course and win his first race of the season at Circuit of the Americas.
COTA provided another decent race this year after 2022’s race ended with a three-way battle for the win on the final lap. This year, teams continued to struggle to make it through the first turn without issues. The front half of COTA’s track features some sharp corners that cause all sorts of issues on restarts when the field is bunched up.
Regardless, the action toward the front never let up all day as William Byron and Tyler Reddick went at it lap after lap. There were seven cautions in the final 25 laps. Tyler Reddick had to battle hard on the restarts to keep his lead. He was able to do so time after time and his efforts were rewarded with victory.