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GMS Racing NCTS Race Recap: Circuit Of The Americas
GMS Racing PR
Zane Smith became the first repeat NASCAR winner at the famed Circuit of The Americas road course, the reigning series champion holding off veteran Kyle Busch to claim his second straight victory in Saturday’s XPEL 225 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race.
The 23-year-old Californian’s No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford led the final 15 laps – a race best 16 of the 42 laps in all - and crossed the finish line an impressive 5.451-seconds ahead of the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch. The win makes Smith’s Front Row Motorsports team a perfect 3-for-3 in CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races at COTA. Todd Gilliland won the 2021 inaugural here.
Ford driver Ty Majeski, Toyota’s Tyler Ankrum and last year’s NASCAR Cup Series COTA winner, Ross Chastain, in a Chevrolet rounded out the top-five.
It’s the second victory of the year for Smith, who won the season-opener at Daytona too – the same first two victories he earned in his 2022 championship season as well.
“Shout out to Chris Lawson for an amazing strategy," said Smith, whose Ford F-150 had a small fire under it extinguished after his burnout.
“So cool for [sponsors] Speedco, Peak and all our partners. It was fast when it mattered. I just enjoy coming to all the road courses, especially here. So cool. Just a true testament to this team."
“Once we got to that eight-to-go point and I was told Kyle [Busch] was in second, my heart rate went up a little bit, just because he’s so good at managing his stuff when it mattered," Smith continued. “So, I just tried not to make any mistakes."
The polesitter Chastain and Busch exchanged the lead for much of the early race – combining to lead 22 laps between them. Smith was able to take the lead after pitting just before the final caution and getting track position. Chastain’s truck actually fell back to 28th for the final restart and Busch’s was 17th yet they both rallied to top-five finishes.
But both of the NASCAR Cup Series full-timers wasted no time navigating upward through the field. On just the single restart lap, Busch had moved up 10 spots and ran seventh – picking off positions with ease. He moved into second place with six laps to go, but by that point Smith had already opened up more than a five-second advantage.
“Played the long game and unfortunately the long game didn’t work, they got lucky and beat us," Busch said of gambling with a pit strategy that took the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet into the pits two laps – and a caution flag - after Smith made his final stop.
Corey Heim, rookie Nick Sanchez, Tanner Gray, Kaz Grala and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top-10. NASCAR has eliminated stage breaks at road courses in 2023 but both Christian Eckes – who ultimately finished 30th after mechanical problems – won Stage 1 (his third stage win of the year) and Busch won Stage 2.
The win Saturday was Smith’s ninth in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and puts him in the driver standings lead by two-points on ThorSport Racing’s Majeski heading into the next race, the SpeedyCash.com 250 next Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Gibbs Strong in Xfinity Series Return
Ty Gibbs made it three straight top-three finishes for the No. 19 Toyota GR Supra as the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion finished third today in Austin. His teammate, Sammy Smith, crossed the line in fourth – his second top-five finish of the season to lead all Xfinity Series drivers. With the result, the Iowa-native qualifies for the first Dash 4 Cash event in Richmond.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Circuit of the Americas
Race 6 of 33 – 151.86 miles, 46 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, AJ Allmendinger*
2nd, William Bryon*
3rd, TY GIBBS
4th, SAMMY SMITH
5th, Justin Allgaier*
18th, KAZ GRALA
19th, CONNOR MOSACK
27th, JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
TY GIBBS, No. 19 Monster Energy Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was your race?
We had a really fast Monster Energy Toyota GR Supra. It was about as fast as Xfinity 10G. We were just a little bit too loose all day. It was an okay finish – we will take it. I’m happy to be back racing in Xfinity Series – it’s a fun time. Hopefully we can go get them tomorrow.”
SAMMY SMITH, No. 18 Pilot Flying J Toyota GR Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
Fourth-place; how do you describe a day like this?
“it was a good day. I feel like we have lot of room for improvement – car-wise and driver-wise. But it was a good day for our Pilot Flying J Toyota GR Supra. Thanks to Pilot Flying J, TMC, Allstate Peterbuilt Group, Golden Harvest, Renda Group, Toyota, JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) – everybody that helps get us here and gives us fast racecars.”
You get to race for $100,000 next week. How cool is that?
“Yeah, that’s cool! I feel good about Richmond next week, but today we fought a little bit of car balance. I’ve got to clean some things up and work a little bit on the car. Thanks to Pilot Flying J, Toyota, TMC, Allstate Peterbuilt Group, Golden Harvest, Re
Ford Performance - NCTS COTA Post-Race Quotes
Zane Smith was victorious in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ return to Circuit of The Americas. The win is Smith’s ninth in the series and his second-straight at the road course. Ford has won three consecutive times at Circuit of The Americas in the Craftsman Truck Series (Todd Gilliland, 2021; Smith, 2022-2023).
Ford Finishing Results:
1st – Zane Smith
3rd – Ty Majeski
10th – Ben Rhodes
15th – Kaden Honeycutt
16th – Hailie Deegan
22nd – Logan Bearden
26th – Mason Filippi
33rd – Matt Crafton
ZANE SMITH, No. 38 Speedco/Peak Ford F-150 (Finished 1st) – WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE CLOSING LAPS WITH KYLE BUSCH MAKING A PUSH? “Yeah, it was definitely nerve-racking there, but I knew once he was in that traffic, I needed to somewhat charge there but have enough at the end of the run. While he was trying to get through traffic, I was just trying to put down lap times and get a gap going. Fortunately, we worked up to about six-and-a-half seconds. I knew I was going to have to make a big mistake for him to get into striking distance. He is so strong under braking, and COTA is just all massive braking zones. That was my biggest worry, but I always enjoy racing him and it was fun this weekend racing with Ross [Chastain]. I’ve learned so much racing those guys, so hopefully in the near future, I can race with them every weekend.”
TIRES PROVED TO BE MORE OF A FACTOR THIS YEAR. HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT TO MANAGE DEGRADATION? “Really difficult, especially I feel like every year it gets bumpier and bumpier, and these bumps are knocking us sideways left and right. That’s the biggest thing. A lot of this track has new pavement and old pavement. It’s so easy to lock up fronts and try to find that drive-off. Fortunately, we found it when it mattered, and I’m just so happy to be here.”
TY MAJESKI, No. 98 Cincinnati/Curb Records Ford F-150 (Finished 3rd) - HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR FINISH? “It was a good, solid day for us. Anytime you can come here with the Cup guys at a road course, it’s tough. So, I had good top-five speed all day. Not sure if we had a third-place truck, but probably around there. Just a solid day. Joe (Shear Jr.) made a great pit call. We were able to jump a lot of guys on pit road there right before that caution came out. It was great timing and a good call by Joe. We had some shaky pit stops, we got behind on track position, and that got us back in the game. Overall, solid day for us. Got to be close to the points lead? A good day. Just have to keep top-fiving them and getting stage points into the summer months.”
BEN RHODES, No. 99 Farm Paint Ford F-150 (Finished 10th) - WHAT HAPPENED LATE IN THE RACE? “Driveshaft just came right out of it going into Turn 19 on the last lap. Thankful it happened there, or we may not have even finished. But, still a bummer. I felt it kind of coming apart with two [laps] to go, and I wasn’t sure at that point what it was. But, one to go I started feeling some pretty noticeable issues, so I coasted as much as I could, and gave up as much time as I could to Ty Majeski behind me. I thought I was managing the gap OK, but then I come out of Turn 18, the carousel, and I believe – how I recall it – as I loaded up pretty hard and hit the chip, that’s right when it broke. But I have to go back and watch the camera. It kind of caught me off guard and took my attention elsewhere.”
WAS THERE A CONCERN YOU WOULDN’T EVEN BE ABLE TO MAKE IT BACK? “Yeah, I was really worried actually. Watching the big hill come up to me and getting slower and slower, I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m just watching trucks fly past. That was just an absolute heartbreaker, really. I know everybody on our team, we set ourselves up for a good finish with the pit-stops because we knew we didn’t have the short run speed that the other trucks did. But the truck held on for pace really well at the end. The bummer is I think we only got nine on stage points, and we gave up those stage points to try to get a good finish. It just completely bites us and turns into a bad points day overall.”
IS THERE SOME POSITIVE? “My team’s had great speed, and that’s the way that we need to take this. That’s the absolute attitude that we need to have. It’s very easy to focus on the negative… I tend to do that myself actually. The good news is that our crew chief, Jared, who has done a great job leading the team and keeping everybody happy. Making sure that we’re all in the right frame of mind. I think that’s one of his strong suits. He’ll find the silver lining. He already told me, ‘Good thing it busted out in the last corner.’ I said, ‘I’m just mad it busted at all.’ He is just happy as can be that the truck ran good the whole race and it happened at the proper timing to still get 10th. He has a good attitude. I’ll work on mine a little bit.”
Ford Performance PR
Burton Qualifies 16th at COTA
Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang are set to start 16th in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Burton turned a lap at 92.846 miles per hour in qualifying on Saturday. His speed was up from practice on Friday, where his lap at 92.286 mph was 15th fastest on the speed chart. His best time came on the 14th of the 16 lap he ran in the session.
Sunday’s 68-lap, 231.88-mile race on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn course is set to start just after 2:30 p.m. Central Time (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.
Stage breaks are planned for Laps 15 and 30.
Ankrum Earns Season-Best Top-Five Finish in Austin
Tyler Ankrum (fourth) scored a top-five finish at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday afternoon to lead Toyota. It is Ankrum’s third top-10 finish in three races at the track. TRICON Garage placed three Tundras in the top-10 with Corey Heim (sixth), Tanner Gray (eighth) and Kaz Grala (ninth).
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Circuit of the Americas
Race 4 of 23 – 42 Laps, 143.22 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Zane Smith*
2nd, Kyle Busch*
3rd, Ty Majeski*
4th, TYLER ANKRUM
5th, Ross Chastain*
6th, COREY HEIM
8th, TANNER GRAY
9th, KAZ GRALA
11th, TAYLOR GRAY
14th, STEWART FRIESEN
20th, COLIN GARRETT
25th, TIMMY HILL
28th, DALE QUARTERLY
35th, DEAN THOMPSON
TYLER ANKRUM, No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, Hattori Racing Enterprises
Finishing Position: 4th
Another good run for you in Austin. Can you walk me through that last run as you looked to run down the leaders?
“Well, it was really weird because the first half of the stage – we went to the stage break and not a lot of other drivers did. I came out right behind Christian Eckes and for 15 laps I didn’t see anyone. That was really confusing. I didn’t know where we were going to come out. We were on a two-stop strategy, and we came out – I want to say ninth or 10th – right when the caution fell. It was perfect. It was really a God send. Kyle (Busch) smoked me on the restart. I’ve a got to learn. I don’t know how he does that. We were able to get a fourth place finish out of this. Thank you to LiUNA!, Toyota. All of the Tundra TRD Pros are built here in Texas. I can’t thank everyone enough. Coming to Texas, I always love coming here. Austin is one of the best cities in the world.”
Why were you able to come through the field?
“The caution at the end fell right for us. We were pitting right before it came out. Super fortunate that all of those guys that hadn’t pitted made their stop and we came out of there in like ninth or 10th. Some of them had a few laps older tires than me, so I was able to stay close and capitalize. It was a really fun battle there with Ross (Chastain) there at the end. He gave me a lot of slack and raced me super clean. Hats off to him. Hats off to Toyota, LiUNA! Our Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is built here in Texas, so it is an awesome place to get a top-five for them.”
COREY HEIM, No. 11 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
Finishing Position: 6th
Earned some solid stage points and top-10 finish in your first race here at COTA. Can you talk about your race?
“I thought overall we had a really solid day with our stage points. That penalty in stage two really hurt us. That’s all on me. My JBL team, TRICON Garage, did a really good job today. I’m super thankful to JBL and Toyota Racing for being a part of this race at COTA – one of Toyota’s home tracks. Really just proud of our p6. Definitely could have been better if it wasn’t for the mistake on my part, but I will learn and get better for the next one.”
TANNER GRAY, No. 15 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, TRICON Garage
Finishing Position: 8th
Top-10 starting spot, and a second top-10 finish this season. How was your race?
“Early, I felt like I struggled a bit just getting in a rhythm. I lost some ground. I didn’t feel like I did a very good job in that first stage really, managing tires. I felt like I burned the right rears off of it. I ended up getting that penalty from cutting the esses, but it kind of played in our favor. A little bit of luck came into it there, but all-in-all, it was a good day for us. Our goal coming in here was to run 10th-to-12th, and we got a couple better than that. I still don’t feel like I’m a very good road course racer. Still, a lot for me to work on, but all-in-all everybody did a really good job. It was awesome to have a really good run with Mobil 1 on the truck in their first race with us, so hopefully we can continue and just have solid days and try to extend our gap from the cut line.”
XPEL 225 results from Circuit of The Americas
Byron Rewrites Record Books with EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix Pole
William Byron continued his white-hot season and rewrote the history books in qualifying for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, becoming NASCAR’s first Cup Series (NCS) driver to earn a pole at four different road courses. The 25-year-old has now won the pole at the Charlotte ROVAL™ (2019), Road America (2021), the Indianapolis Road Course (2021) and Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
The triumph capped an up-and-down 24 hours for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, whose final-round qualifying effort on Friday for the Pit Boss Grills 250 presented by USA TODAY was disqualified after officials determined he exceeded track limits.
“It’s been an up and down weekend,” he said. “It’s good to get the pole, but there’s lot of physical work to do. Hopefully we can prepare throughout the day today and get ready for tomorrow.”
The two-minute 10.76-second pole-winning lap adds to a recent hot streak for Byron, who’s notched two wins already this season.
“It’s great to see things come together as they are,” Byron said. “I’m not really surprised by what our team is capable of, but it’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of things still to do and accomplish.”
Byron held off a hard-charging Tyler Reddick, whose No. 45 Toyota will start on the outside pole when the green flag falls Sunday.
Austin Cindric qualified third. IMSA sports car star Jordan Taylor, making his NCS debut, will start fourth, filling in for the injured Chase Elliott. Taylor will be joined by two Formula One champions in the field. Kimi Raikkonen will start 22nd, with Jenson Button in 24th. Seven-time NCS champion Jimmie Johnson will make his first COTA start from the 31st position.
Tickets for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix are on sale at NASCARatCOTA.com. Sunday tickets, which include the Darius Rucker pre-race concert, start at $70 for adults and just $10 for kids 12 and under. Further details can be found on the NASCAR at COTA website.
Keep track of all things NASCAR at COTA by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NASCARatCOTA). Keep up with all the latest information on the NASCAR at COTA website and mobile app.