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)

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