After alternating weeks off, the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will once again join the NASCAR Cup Series circuit for a tripleheader this weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. This marks the fourth consecutive season NASCAR has traveled to COTA and will feature two races on Saturday with the Cup event scheduled for Sunday.


Todd Gilliland became the first NASCAR driver to win a national series event at Circuit of the Americas when he captured the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in 2021. In a weekend that was hampered by rain, Gilliland was able to manage the mixed conditions of dry and wet pavement to win by nearly eight seconds. Gilliland, who registered his second series win that day, continues to look for his first NASCAR Cup Series victory this weekend in his third season driving for Front Row Motorsports.


There are three current drivers who have won a NASCAR Cup Series race on a road course with Ford. The most recent winner was Michael McDowell, who clinched a playoff spot last year after winning on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Ryan Blaney got his first road course win in the inaugural event on the Charlotte Roval in 2018 while Joey Logano scored his Cup victory at Watkins Glen International in 2015, which completed a weekend sweep after he won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race one day earlier.


Besides the drivers mentioned above, Ford has six other active Cup competitors who have won on a road course in either the NASCAR Xfinity or NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Brad Keselowski (Watkins Glen NXS with Ford, 2013); Chris Buescher (Mid-Ohio NXS with Ford, 2014); Austin Cindric (NXS wins with Ford at Watkins Glen, 2019; Mid-Ohio, 2019; Road America, 2020, Daytona Road Course, 2020; and Indianapolis Road Course, 2021); Chase Briscoe (NXS wins with Ford at Charlotte Roval, 2018; and Indianapolis Road Course, 2020); Todd Gilliland (Circuit of the Americas NCTS with Ford, 2021) and Justin Haley (CTMP, 2018).


Circuit of the Americas is one of eight road courses the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on in the modern era, joining Riverside International Raceway (1958-88), Watkins Glen International (1957-Present), Sonoma Raceway (1989-Present), Charlotte Motor Speedway (2018-Present), Daytona International Speedway (2020-2021), Road America (2021-2022) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2021-Present). Ford has produced a total of 19 combined wins at those facilities from 1972-Present. Mark Martin leads the way with four victories, including three straight years at Watkins Glen, while Ricky Rudd, Marcos Ambrose and Geoffrey Bodine have two each.

MICHAEL MCDOWELL: “COTA was one of those races that we struggled at for the road courses, mostly because of a mistake I made in qualifying. I spun out in qualifying in turn 19 and flat-spotted the tires and started last. That kind of made a long day for myself getting back to the front and then when we got into the top five we got spun with like two laps to go and had come from the back to the front. I don’t think it was a racetrack that we struggled for speed, we just didn’t execute very well, so I’m looking forward to getting back there with a lot of the things that we learned throughout the season of making our road course program better. We should have a shot at winning the race and hopefully we can.”

CHASE BRISCOE: “I’m really excited to go there. I’ve probably spent 15-16 hours on the sim there over the offseason and I feel like what we have, if it’s anything like it is in the sim, then we’re gonna be really, really good. I’m hoping that will correlate. Last year, our road course stuff was not very good, so we have a lot of work to do and hopefully some of that progress that we did over the offseason will show.”

NOAH GRAGSON: “COTA is super fun. That was the best qualifying result I had last year which was 10th at COTA, so that was pretty cool getting into the second round. It’s fun. I always loved to road course race in Legends cars, K&N, Trucks, Xfinity. It’s fun. I’ve never won in a top three series on a road course, but in K&N we had a lot of success on the road courses. I wouldn’t say I’m the best at it, but I don’t think I’m the worst either. I’m just always working harder to be better. I’m getting a lot of sim time and it’s fun to mix it up, so I’m excited for COTA.”


Cole Custer has made three series starts at Circuit of the America, qualifying in the top 10 on each occasion. He has a pair of top-10 finishes with his best run coming in 2022 when he finished third driving for Bobby Dotter. Riley Herbst had his best COTA performance one year ago when he finished 10th. Both drivers are currently in the top five of the series point standings with Custer sitting third and Herbst fourth.


The Ford F-150 is undefeated on the Circuit of Americas course in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series after Todd Gilliland won the inaugural event in 2021 and Zane Smith took the checkered flag in each of the last two seasons. Layne Riggs will look to make it four straight for Front Row Motorsports as he comes off his best performance of the season after posting a 10th-place finish last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. He faces a much different challenge on Saturday, however, because this will be his first series road course event in what will be his 11th career start.

Ford Performance PR