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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

What Cup Drivers Said After NASCAR Test at COTA

In preparation for the NASCAR national series races at Circuit of the Americas, NASCAR had a test at the Austin, Texas, track with Cup Series drivers Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski on March 2.

COTA has hosted NTT IndyCar Series, Formula 1 and IMSA races, among others, but this is the first time NASCAR will race the racetrack, which was built in 2010.

Three teams from three different manufactures had an opportunity to learn as much as they can for the race in May.

Keselowski noted that there will be some great opportunities to have a lot of passes especially in turn 1.

“One of the things about this track here in Austin, it’s got a couple of key action spots,” Keselowski said, per a NASCAR release. “Turn 1 is designed as though a fan said, ‘how can I have the most calamity in that corner on the start?’ So there’s a couple of things – first off, it’s up hill, which helps the car stop, so it encourages the driver to try to out-brake another driver, which is big on a restart or a start because all of the cars are already so close together.

“Second thing is, it’s really wide on entry, so it’s almost impossible to block because there’s just a lot more racetrack. And then, of course, the third part is it’s a super slow corner meaning you have to use a lot of brakes to get through there. So, like I said, almost like it was intentional – I’m sure it was intentional – to create some epic starts. I think you’ll see that here.”

Truex compared COTA to other tracks on the NASCAR schedule.

“I feel like this is kind of part Sonoma [Raceway], part Watkins Glen [International],” he said. “There’s some fast sections, some slow sections. It’s got the older asphalt, wearing tires out more like Sonoma, but it’s got the really high-speed straights and the really hard braking zone like Watkins Glen going down the backstretch. It’s a mix of both. It’s got a little bit of a blind corner, up-and-down elevation change like Sonoma.

“It’s a pretty unique place. … It’s all about markers and points on the track and when you turn in and what gear you’re in and how much speed you’re carrying and finding the brake points and all those things. It takes over two minutes to get around here, so if you make a mistake, you’ve got to wait two minutes to correct it, and you can’t forget it when you come back around. It was interesting to do that and a lot of fun to do that.”

As for Elliott: “The track’s fun,” he said. “It has a lot of character to it, I feel like. I’ve never been here, never seen it in person before today and really haven’t watched a ton of races here, so it’s really been a pretty steep learning curve for me, trying to piece together all the different parts of the track and understand where you need to be good and how to make it flow. I’m trying to learn, but it’s been fun.

“I hope people will come out and give it a chance. It’s a different type of racing.”

The Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck series each hit COTA in May. Both the Xfinity and Truck series will hold their races on May 22, followed by Cup the following day.

About the author

Jared Haas joined the Frontstretch staff in May 2020. A graduate of Cedarville University in December 2019, Jared has been a Nascar fan since 2006. One of Jared's passion is recreating and creating Nascar cars for video games.

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