COTA race preview: SVG and Kobayashi return

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to Circuit of The Americas for the fourth successive year this Sunday for the first road course of the season, in what promises to be another wild and fiercely competitive COTA race, with 2023 Chicago Street Race winner and three-times Supercars champion Shane Van Gisbergen and ex-Formula 1 driver and 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi, both making their first Cup start of the season.

  • Race breakdown
  • Shane van Gisbergen and Kamui Kobayashi return
  • Qualifying
  • Full qualifying results

3 min read

Race breakdown

The EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas will consist of 68 laps (232 miles), broken down into three stages of 15, 15, and 38, around the 3.41-mile 20-turn premiere road course with the race starting at 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

NASCAR have brought a new race package this weekend for the Cup Series which includes a simplified diffuser and diffuser strake, accompanied by a three-inch spoiler, the shortest spoiler package the Cup Series currently run, all in an effort to take away downforce from the cars.

All three prior COTA Cup races have been wild affairs, with the inaugural race in 2021 seeing a torrential downpour that saw NASCAR’s wettest ever Cup race brawl ensue that saw Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott win.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MAY 23: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on May 23, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

2022 came down to a three-wide wrestle that saw Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain come out on top after moving AJ Allmendinger out of the way to take his first Cup Series win.

Last year featured several manic overtime attempts that saw 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick finally take the checkered flag.

AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 26: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott has the most wins amongst Sunday’s field with seven road course victories. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Kyle Larson have five, four, and four road course victories respectively.

Shane van Gisbergen and Kamui Kobayashi return

Shane van Gisbergen looks set to compete up front again in his third Cup Series start now racing for Kaulig Racing after he stole the show from the Cup regulars, out-braking, and outmanoeuvred all to take the win at the inaugural Chicago Street Course on his Cup Series debut last summer.

Gisbergen also finished 10th in last year’s Indianapolis road course race. He qualified 12th for Sunday’s COTA Cup race.

Gisbergen raced in yesterday’s Xfinity COTA race as part of his full-time schedule with Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series this season, and was up front all day long with teammate AJ Allmendinger and was leading when the caution came out with less than four laps to go.

In the final overtime Gisbergen got moved of the way by Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill in turn one, that then saw the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Kyle Larson, who was on much fresher tyres, pass both of them on the final lap to take the win away, as Gisbergen got back by Hill in the final corners.

Gisbergen was then penalised for marginally cutting a corner in the esses on the final lap that relegated him to a 27th finishing position.

Kamui Kobayashi is piloting 23XI Racing’s No. 50 Toyota, making his second Cup Series start after making his debut in last year’s Indianapolis road course race, where he finished 33rd one lap down.

Kobayashi who has qualified 25th for the COTA race said: “I’m definitely looking forward to COTA. We’ve had more preparation. I’ve raced COTA five times already in Formula 1 and WEC. I think Indy, it was my first time ever racing there, but at COTA I have more experience, so definitely looking forward to the race.”

Kobayashi will be sporting a Mobil 50th anniversary livery for the Cup race.


Qualifying saw William Byron take his 13th Cup Series pole and fifth on a road course with an average lap speed of 94.696 mph, beating Ty Gibbs by 0.15-seconds, who finished 24th in yesterday’s Xfinity race after being up front up for much of it.

Byron said: “Honestly this has been my first normal week since the [Daytona] 500 and being in my rhythm and kind of in my cocoon and being able to focus on driving the race car. I feel very happy with the way the week has gone and feel very fresh going into this race.”

The EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas starts 3:30pm ET/7:30pm UK time.

Full qualifying results 

  1. William Byron
  2. Ty Gibbs
  3. Tyler Reddick
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Corey Lajoie
  6. Ross Chastain
  7. Martin Truex Jr.
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Bubba Wallace
  11. Austin Cindric
  12. Shane van Gisbergen
  13. Justin Haley
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Kyle Larson
  16. Kyle Busch
  17. Alex Bowman
  18. Carson Hocevar
  19. Daniel Suarez
  20. Chris Buescher
  21. Austin Dillon
  22. John Hunter Nemechek
  23. Kaz Grala
  24. Ryan Preece
  25. Kamui Kobayashi
  26. Todd Gilliland
  27. Michael McDowell
  28. Ryan Blaney
  29. Harrison Burton
  30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  31. Josh Berry
  32. Chase Briscoe
  33. Daniel Hemric
  34. Zane Smith
  35. Joey Logano
  36. Brad Keselowski
  37. Timmy Hill
  38. Erik Jones
  39. Noah Gragson

Featured Image: AUSTIN, TEXAS – MARCH 24: A general view of practice for the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 24, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Sweet Home Chicago: Grant Park 220 preview, lineup, drivers to watch

The NASCAR Cup Series will make history today by racing around the 12-turn 2.2-mile street course around and in Grant Park in downtown Chicago in what will be NASCAR’s first ever street course race, the Grant Park 220, with the Chicago city skyline and Lake Michigan as the backdrop.

  • Preview
  • Qualifying report
  • Drivers to watch
  • Starting lineup 
Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Grant Park 220 will consist of 100 laps (220 miles), and will have three stages of 20, 25, and 55 laps but like road course races this season, there will be no stage ending cautions, giving crew chiefs more options with strategy.

The green flag has been moved up from 5:30pm ET to 5pm due to downtown Chicago receiving a month’s worth of rainfall in the last 24 hours with the intention of avoiding further weather however it will be a very wet start to the race at least.

Drivers on Saturday prior to qualifying did get some practice in light rain conditions but will possibly have to relearn the track in the anticipated tricky conditions.

Check NASCAR and the @PitCrew_Online on Twitter for updates.


Denny Hamlin knocked three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen off provisional pole, to secure his third pole of the season with a 1.28.435.

Hamlin said: “The course is actually very very good and raceable. I think there will be a ton of passing zones [in Sunday’s race].”

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Yahoo! Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course on July 01, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Shane van Gisbergen, who is making his NASCAR Cup Series debut with the Trackhouse Racing Project 91 team, ended up third fastest in the top-10 shootout with a 1.28.588.

Shane van Gisbergen, driver of the No. 91 Enhance Health Chevrolet, looks on during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Studios)

23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick, who Hamlin is the team co-owner of, qualified second with a 1.28.479.

Jenson Button, in his second Cup Series start with Rick Ware Racing, also made the top-10 shootout, qualifying eighth with a 1.29.571.

Mexico’s Daniel Suarez topped the Round 1 Group A qualifying session with a 1.28.755, with Larson, Button, Reddick, and Allmendinger joining him for the top-10 shootout.

Group B’s qualifying session was not so smooth with Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick crashing and bringing out two red flags in the session.

Elliott, while following Shane van Gisbergen, clipped the right hand wall going into turn eight and the hit the wall opposite head on. Harvick made the same mistake in turn one, hitting the wall hard.

Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford took on damage during practice on the Chicago Street Course (Photo by Taylor Robbins/Race Service)

Polesitter Hamlin topped Group B with a 1.28.369, while van Gisbergen was second with a 1.28.509. Bell, McDowell, and Logano also joined them for the top-10 shootout.

Drivers to watch

In terms of one-lap pace, Hamlin, Reddick, and van Gisbergen were nearly a whole second quicker than the rest of the top-10 shootout contenders.

Van Gisbergen is a three-time and reigning Supercars champion in Australia and topped the practice charts on Saturday in what has been a mighty impressive performance so far from the New Zealander.

With the Gen 3 Supercars sharing many similarities with NASCAR’s Gen 7 car, Gisbergen who drives for the Red Bull Ampol Racing Chevrolet Camaro team in the series, is accustomed to racing heavy V8-powered muscle cars around street courses, with the Supercars series competing on several street courses each season such as in Newcastle, and Townsville, Australia.

Shane van Gisbergen, driver of the No. 91 Enhance Health Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Studios)

Shane van Gisbergen could very well take the chequered flag today, if he can carry over his experience, patience, and sensational car control and placement that he has shown in the Supercars series.

The NASCAR Cup Series regulars could come out on top by the end in Hamlin or Reddick, with Hamlin having one road course win at Watkins Glen, and Reddick winning three of the last six road course races, at Indianapolis Road Course, COTA, and Road America.

Martin Truex Jr. has been on fire lately, including winning the Sonoma road course race three weeks ago for a second consecutive year and has five road course wins to his name.

Chase Elliott, while not having been at his best this weekend, should not be dismissed, as he holds the highest number of road course wins amongst active drivers with seven, coming at five different road courses.

2009 F1 World Champion Jenson Button finished 18th at NASCAR’s Cup Series race at COTA earlier this year. With improved pace on the field this weekend, and extensive experience driving in the wet, we could see Button dueling it out for a top-five finish or better today.

Jenson Button, driver of the No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Grant Park 220 at the Chicago Street Course (Photo by Alejandro Alvarez/NASCAR Studios)

Starting lineup 

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Tyler Reddick
  3. Shane van Gisbergen
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Daniel Suarez
  6. Michael McDowell
  7. Kyle Larson
  8. Jenson Button
  9. Joey Logano
  10. AJ Allmendinger
  11. Martin Truex Jr.
  12. Ty Gibbs
  13. Alex Bowman
  14. Bubba Wallace
  15. Chris Buescher
  16. Chase Briscoe
  17. Ryan Blaney
  18. Kyle Busch
  19. Corey LaJoie
  20. Brad Keselowski
  21. Erik Jones
  22. William Byron
  23. Noah Gragson
  24. Aric Almirola
  25. Todd Gilliland
  26. Chase Elliott
  27. Josh Bilicki
  28. Ryan Preece
  29. Austin Dillon
  30. Andy Lally
  31. Austin Cindric
  32. Harrison Burton
  33. Ty Dillon
  34. Ross Chastain
  35. Kevin Harvick
  36. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  37. Justin Haley


Featured Image: A general view of the setup for the Chicago Street Race frontstretch (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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