Monday, Mar 27
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward would love to see an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in his native Mexico, but for the time being Texas will suit him just fine as his home race.
O’Ward was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, before his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, when he was 11. He would spend his early teen years attending the TMI-Episcopal prep school on the outskirts of the city before departing to pursue his motorsports dream.
When O’Ward returns for Sunday’s PPG 375 (11:15 a.m. CT, TV: NBC & Peacock, Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch-local), he definitely considers Texas Motor Speedway as his “home-away-from-home” race on the 17-race schedule. He already has three suites reserved for family and friends, and also created a grandstand ticket promotion to entice his fan to come and watch him compete in Fort Worth.
“Texas is very close to home,” said O’Ward, who drives the No. 5 Chevrolet for the three-car Arrow McLaren team. “It’s the closest I have to home, and I would love to have a race in Mexico hopefully in the future, but for now this is what I have as a home Grand Prix kind of way. I’ve got a bunch of people coming out, which is really, really cool to see. I can’t wait.”
It was apropos that the 23-year-old emerging superstar’s first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory came at Texas Motor Speedway. After securing a third-place finish in the first race of the 2021 doubleheader weekend, he earned his first victory the following day. O’Ward became the first Mexican driver to win an INDYCAR race since Adrian Fernandez in 2004.
“My win here is actually where I really saw a really big spike in, I guess, my presence and people just knew the name quite a bit more,” O’Ward said. “From there it has gradually grown, grown, grown, grown, grown. Obviously, it grows most when I win.
“It’s great to see their support. I’ve always said I think I have the most amazing group of fans. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Portland or if I’m in Long Beach, they go. It’s really, really cool to see. … This is the closest we have to Mexico now, so I’m pumped to see all the Mexican flags and have all the people come out to support me.”
O’Ward progressed through the open-wheel racing ranks with a road and street course background, but has become quite adept on the ovals. Of the five oval races last season, O’Ward finished fourth or better in all but one (15th at Texas). The oval success was highlighted by a win at Iowa and runner-up finish in the Indy 500.
“I have really grown to love what it is like to race at superspeedways,” he said. “It is definitely a different skill to what it is on road courses and, obviously, street courses. The way you have to approach it is different as well because the risk is that much more and the speeds, like I said, are very quick. So, it’s just a very different way to what I grew up racing to get to INDYCAR.”
In the midst of his fourth full season, O’Ward has recorded four wins, 14 podiums and five poles in just 56 career starts. He also has finished seventh or better in the series championship the last three seasons, including a best of third in 2021.
He nearly had his fifth career win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but an engine mishap while holding the lead late in the race doused his chances. O’Ward would have to settle for a runner-up finish to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson.
Two-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power, an 18-year veteran of the sport, has been quite impressed from what he already has seen from O’Ward.
“Pato is an amazing talent, one of the quickest guys I’ve seen come into the series,” Power said. “I’m sure he’s going to be a (series) champion, Indy 500 champion in the future which is really good for the series. … It’s great to have people like Pato in the series. He brings a huge fan base from Mexico.”
O’Ward and his fellow NTT INDYCAR SERIES competitors will take to the track Saturday for practice and qualifying. The opening one-hour practice will begin at 8 a.m. and be followed by qualifying at 11:15 a.m. Split-field practices will run from 12:45-1:15 p.m. and then a final one-hour full-field session will begin at 1:30 p.m. The weekend culminates with the PPG 375, the second race of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
The season-opening race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway also will feature the SPEEDYCASH.COM 250 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race Saturday beginning at  3:30 p.m.
Ticket information and online purchases are available at
Texas Motor Speedway’s 2023 events schedule consists of everything from the April 1-2 NTT INDYCAR SERIES/NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series doubleheader and the Sept. 23-24 NASCAR Playoffs weekend, car shows and competitions and the Ducks Unlimited Expo, the four-day Hwy 30 Music Fest and Bandas y Trocas Hispanic concert and truck show, and then wrapping up the year with the family-favorite and speedway tradition Gift of Lights holiday light show.
Season tickets and camping for Texas Motor Speedway’s 2023 major event season are on sale now. Save up to 33 percent versus buying individual tickets, get the best seat selection and more. All-new reduced rates are available for the GEICO Infield, GEICO VIP and WinStar World Casino & Resort Lone Star Circle camping areas. Click HERE for more information and to purchase season tickets.

Guests who attend the NASCAR Food City Dirt Race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, April 7-9, will find an abundance of entertainment options in the BMS Fan Zone, located at BMS Entrance 1 (North) near the famed Bristol tower and It’s Bristol Baby monument.

The BMS Fan Zone includes a wide wonderland of shows, activities and attractions, including the return of the extreme Globe of Death, NASCAR race simulators, a hard-bucking Mechanical Bull, BMS Freestyle bikes, an Axe Throwing station, the BMS Kid Zone and the ultra-popular Food City Fan Zone Stage.

One of the main attractions in the BMS Fan Zone is the Food City Fan Zone Stage, with Trackside Live segments hosted by Alex Weaver. The Food City Fan Zone Stage will provide guests with music, driver and celebrity appearances, games, SCC auctions, driver Q&A chats, prizes and so much fun.

Among the scheduled activities include stage appearances throughout the weekend by NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series drivers, along with other special guests and entertainers. The WJHL TV-11 Daytime Tri-Cities tandem of Amy Lynn and Chris McIntosh will get things going on Friday when they host their show live from the stage at 9 a.m. One of the main stage highlights of the weekend will be Saturday’s BMS Race Day Revival at 2:30 p.m. with hosts Kenny Wallace and John Roberts. That duo will be joined during their show by spicy host Jose Castillo, FOX NASCAR personality Kaitlyn Vincie and other special guests for fun interviews and high jinks.

On Saturday night, ‘80s Tribute Band Spank! will perform following the checkered flag of the WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt. A list of drivers who are scheduled to appear on stage is listed below.

Among the popular attractions in the BMS Fan Zone will be the return of the high-soaring BMX Freestyle team, who will wow the crowd with their daredevil skills in shows throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. The amazing extreme Globe of Death will thrill guests over the weekend as the stunt riders perform inside an oval steel cage. Guests can channel their inner lumberjack at the Axe Throwing station, try to last 8 seconds on a surly mechanical bull and jump inside a racing simulator to test their race driving skills.

The BMS chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities will host live auctions from the Food City Fan Zone Stage on both Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.)

Children also will be able to have tons of fun at the BMS Kid Zone, where there will be Easter activities on Sunday; several mascot appearances including BMS’s popular Bump and Run and on Sunday a special appearance by the Easter Bunny; a cornhole game area; coloring stations; an inflatable bounce house; euro bungie; photo opportunities and much more. The BMS Kid Zone is open Friday through Sunday in the BMS Fan Zone.

Schedules for both the BMS Fan Zone and the Food City Fan Zone Stage are below. Please visit Bristol Motor Speedway’s website for schedule updates.

Friday, April 7
9 a.m.              Daytime Tri-Cities live with Amy Lynn and Chris McIntosh 
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kids Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                        2:30 p.m. Matt DiBenedetto
                        3 p.m.  Tyler Ankrum
                        3:15 p.m. Lawless Alan and Carson Hocevar
                        3:45 p.m. Nick Sanchez
                        4 p.m.  Grant Enfinger, Rajah Caruth, Daniel Dye
                        4:30 p.m.  Richard Petty and PVA announcement
                        5 p.m.  NASCAR practice sessions to air on big screen TV

Saturday, April 8
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing  
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kids Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                       1:45 p.m. Navy Ceremonial Guard
                       2 p.m. Navy Band
                       2 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 1)
                       2:15 p.m.  BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 1)
                       3 p.m. SCC live auction
                       3:45 p.m. Tyler Reddick interview with host Alex Weaver
                       4 p.m. Justin Haley interview with Alex Weaver
                       4 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 2)
                       4:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 2)
                       10 p.m. ‘80s Tribute Band Spank! post-race concert  

Sunday, April 9
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kid Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                        12:30 p.m. Moonshiners Mark & Digger
                        1 p.m. Chase Briscoe
                        1:15 p.m. Navy Ceremonial Guard
                        1:30 p.m. Navy Band
                        2 p.m. SCC live auction
                        2 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 1)
                        2:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 1)
                        2:30 p.m. Race Day Revival with Kenny Wallace/John Roberts
                        2:30 p.m. Corey LaJoie and Marcus Smith
                        3 p.m. Christopher Bell
                        3:15 p.m.  Kyle Larson
                        3:30 p.m.  Austin Dillon
                        3:45 p.m.  Kyle Busch
                        4 p.m.  BMS Easter Celebration on Fan Zone big screen TV
                        4 p.m.  Globe of Death exhibition (round 2)
                        4:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 2)

The Bristol race weekend is highlighted by the NASCAR Cup Series returning to its roots with the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday evening, April 9 (7 p.m., FOX and PRN Radio). The WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt will see the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series take to the clay-covered track on Saturday (8 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio) and will be preceded by Bush’s Beans Qualifying, which offers four heat races to set the starting lineups in each series. On Friday, teams in both the Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series will be able to fine-tune their machines during Bush’s Beans Practice Day.

In addition to cheering on their favorite drivers during the weekend and enjoying the Easter Celebration, Bristol Motor Speedway fans will definitely want to take advantage of so many activities to make a complete weekend of family fun. There will be great video entertainment provided by Colossus TV, the world's largest center-hung video screen, premium VIP experiences like the Super Fan Suites, tailgating, a visit to the BMS Kids Zone, BMS Fan Zone and Fan Midway, on-site camping, concerts and other entertainment at the Food City Fan Zone Stage like the Race Day Revival with Kenny Wallace and John Roberts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.

To purchase tickets for the Food City Dirt Race, WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt and Bush’s Beans Qualifying, please visit the BMS website, or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.


For Cannon McIntosh, in a way, one could say that his season really started around last June.
Since that point, the 20-year-old Bixby, Okla. native has been among the most accomplished midget racers in the nation and carries a bevy of momentum and title aspirations entering the 2023 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season.
Once more, McIntosh will take the wheel of the Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports No. 08 for the full USAC campaign following a season in which he garnered 15 midget victories across all sanctions – three with USAC – all but one of which came after the start of the month of June in 2022.
This year, McIntosh has already added a Chili Bowl prelim night victory and an Xtreme Outlaw score to his resume, sending him off on the right foot heading into the new year.
In many ways, 2022 was a breakout year for McIntosh who put a rest to a personal 57-race winless USAC streak with a victory during the Indiana Midget Week finale at Kokomo Speedway. He further cemented his return to good graces with a 100-lap triumph at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway and notched another at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex, while coming oh-so-close to marquee victories during the BC39 and the Turkey Night Grand Prix.
At the beginning of that turning point at the end of last spring, McIntosh sat seventh in the USAC standings. Since that moment, only Buddy Kofoid and Justin Grant have earned more points, signaling to himself and his competition that he’ll be a formidable force in the championship hunt this season when all is said and done.
“We had some misfortunes and struggles early in the year, and nothing was going right,” McIntosh recalled of the first few months of 2022. “Really, ever since that race, everything’s turned around. We had the speed, but we just really got in our element there and started clicking off wins, podiums and doing all the right things. It was just a matter of digging ourselves out of a hole and we were able to do that.”
Despite the stream of recent success over the past nine months, McIntosh is quick to not rest on his laurels and remain content. There’s no lament in his vocabulary or psyche on “what could’ve been” in 2022 had the season not started off so inauspicious. His focus is on the road that lies ahead, and he’s already displayed his strengths with a pair of triumphs this year.
“We don’t really want to look back,” McIntosh stated. “We’ve just got to take what we did last year and try to build on it for this year. We’ve already been able to show that our momentum is still there right out of the gate. We’re going to chase a championship, so we’re just going to push hard and take it one race at a time and let everything play itself out.”
To this point in his USAC career, McIntosh has accumulated 112 feature starts, six victories, 36 top-fives, 64 top-tens and nine fast qualifying times since making his series debut in 2018 in his home state of Oklahoma at Red Dirt Raceway. Twice, he’s finished fifth in the standings, doing so in both 2020 and 2022. However, McIntosh feels like this very well could be the best of the bunch as he eyes a continuation of his breakout in the coming year.
“I do think it’s a reality to win a championship and be a contender to win every night,” McIntosh said of his 2023 USAC aspirations. “We don’t want to overstep that, but we want to use that as part of our confidence. We don’t want to get cocky and overlook things because there are many very good cars to contend with every night. One little thing can take a race away from you, and it’s going to take a lot of consistency and a lot of patience. There are a lot of factors that go into it; I’ve been around this for a few years now, and I’ve seen what it takes for guys to win championships. I know it doesn’t happen overnight, and if you do have a bad night, you must perform the next night. Basically, you can’t have two bad nights in a row. That doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a short-term memory and minimize mistakes, and if you have a fifth place car, you can’t go out and crash it trying to win the race.”
During the offseason, McIntosh made the move from Oklahoma to Mooresville, N.C. where he is developing and maintaining a new micro sprint program. The midget team remains housed in Tulsa, Oklahoma under the care of crewmen Robert Dalby, Grant Penn and Ritchie Burcik. While there are the usual small tweaks to make here and there, the bulk of the foundation remains relatively unchanged as the team reloads its Crescent Tools sponsored Spike/Speedway Toyota for a run to the top.
“There’s always room to improve and they’re definitely doing that in the shop,” McIntosh noted of his team. “The parts that didn’t need fixing, they left them alone, and I think that’s how you find a very consistent and solid car by not messing up what’s good and, instead, focus on what needs to be improved upon.”
Right where McIntosh’s turnaround began, that’s where the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season kicks off its 2023 season on April 21-22 at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway for the Kokomo Grand Prix.

Making their return to Front Row Motorsports (FRM), Stage Front VIP is back with Michael McDowell and the No. 34 team this season. Stage Front VIP is expanding their partnership from two to four races this season and offering fans even more VIP experiences and tickets.


The No. 34 will adorn the Stage Front VIP colors at the Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in May, the Richmond (Va.) Raceway in July, the Darlington Raceway again in September and at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on October 29. Stage Front VIP will also be a season-long associate partner of McDowell.


Bigger and better this season, Stage Front VIP, McDowell, and FRM will be offering fans more opportunities to purchase exclusive and one-of-a-kind VIP experiences with the team at primary races and at NASCAR Cup Series Playoff events. The VIP experiences will include an up-close and insiders look at the race team and McDowell on race day. This includes tours of the hauler, a meet-and-greet with McDowell, pit road access, team merchandise from Stage Front VIP and more.


“We saw a lot of excitement from our customers around Michael McDowell and our partnership with Font Row Motorsports last season,” said Karl Roes, CEO, Stage Front VIP. “It was a positive experience for us and NASCAR is off to another great season. We worked with Front Row Motorsports this year to expand our VIP offering to make it an even better experience for NASCAR fans. We believe that we’re offering something that is unmatched and we’re looking forward to another great year with Michael and the Front Row Motorsports team.”


McDowell has had another strong start to NASCAR Cup Series season. The addition of Stage Front VIP makes it easier for fans to be closer to the team than ever before.


“That’s what I love about this program,” said McDowell. “You can be with us on race day and be a part of the team with the VIP experiences. I’m thankful for Stage Front VIP for wanting to make the program bigger this year and give more fans the opportunity to see us. You can be a part of our race day and that’s pretty cool.”


Fans can go to to learn more about the McDowell and FRM VIP experiences and tickets. They can also see other VIP experiences offered by Stage Front VIP.


After winning the EuroNASCAR 2 title in 2015 and becoming the first EuroNASCAR 2 champion to win a EuroNASCAR PRO race at Brands Hatch in 2018, Gianmarco Ercoli has been a dominant force and a true title contender in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. The 27-year-old will return to CAAL Racing for the 2023 season to once again challenge for the EuroNASCAR PRO title at the wheel of the #54 Chevrolet Camaro, and the Italian is eager to add the beautiful Tijey Trophy to his trophy room at home. 

After making his full-time debut in EuroNASCAR’s top division in 2016, the 2019 season was the first in which Ercoli really had a say in the championship battle. While scoring four top-5 finishes, the NWES veteran finished sixth in the overall championship. The coronavirus pandemic affected the 2020 season, but Ercoli still found his A-game. In front of empty grandstands, he scored his first EuroNASCAR PRO home track victory at the Autodromo di Vallelunga. As in 2019, the Rome native finished sixth overall at the end of a solid season.

Only three points separated Ercoli from winning the championship in 2021. The Italian won the Junior Trophy, but was beaten in the overall standings by Loris Hezemans. Seven top-5 finishes and a race win in Croatia showed the Rome pilot's strength: his consistency! Despite seeing Hezemans in Victory Lane four times during the season, he remained in contention until the very last minute in 2021. In 2022, it was Ercoli against Alon Day, who took his fourth title, while Ercoli finished third with three victories to his name. 

The Italian will do his best to overcome the last obstacle and win the EuroNASCAR PRO Championship. "I want to finish in the top 5 in every race of the 2023 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season," said Ercoli, who continues to rely on his consistency. The driver and safety instructor is ready for the "close battles" and "pure racing" that are his favorite parts of EuroNASCAR. As a soccer player and boxer in his spare time, Ercoli has what it takes to take on another championship battle and maybe knock out the other competitors after twelve rounds of fair but hard racing. 

Like his idol Fernando Alonso, Ercoli has the fighting spirit and enthusiasm for racing that he discovered as a child watching Formula 1 races on television. The first round of the NWES season will take place on May 6-7 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. All qualifying and race sessions will be broadcast live on EuroNASCAR's YouTube channel, and various television services around the world. Ercoli will be looking to improve and take the final step to the top of the podium at the end of another spectacular season of NASCAR racing in Europe.


Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are headed to their first road course race of the season – the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

In their first trip to COTA, last year, Burton and the No. 21 team finished 17th but earned 26 points due to finishes of ninth and seventh in the first two Stages.

This year the rules for road courses will be different, but crew chief Brian Wilson said he’s up to the challenges of calling the race. And he’s confident that he and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team can build on their road-course results of 2022, which included a season-best finish of third on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Last year at COTA we had one of our best points days of 2022 and came away with a top-20 finish,” Wilson said. “Heading into this year’s race the Stage break rules will be different however. 
“NASCAR will not throw a caution at the end of the Stage, so scoring Stage points will be a bit more dynamic than it was last year.”
There are other changes to contend with as well.
“We will have a new tire for this event which looks like it will have more lap time fall-off based on the tire test earlier this year,” Wilson said. “Choosing when to pit and getting a timely caution may determine the outcome of the day for many cars in the field.”

Wilson said the changes will give the race a familiar look for long-time fans and participants in the sport.

“Those two aspects give this weekend more of the feel of a road-course race from when my career started,” he said. “Playing the strategy correctly as things happen on the fly will be an interesting storyline for the weekend.

“The No. 21 Ford team will look to get the road-course portion of our season off to a great start this weekend.”
Practice for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix is set for Friday at 1:05 p.m. Central Time (2:05 Eastern), with qualifying scheduled for Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (11:30 Eastern). FOX Sports 1 will broadcast both events.
The green flag for Sunday’s 68-lap, 231.88-mile race is set to fly 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.


Auto racing is an industry worth billions. The sport has fans all over the world who enjoy competitions like NASCAR and Formula 1.

With so many options to choose from, you may not know where to start if you're a new fan just getting into the sport. Below are some tips that can get you started. 

Find racing entertainment that fuels your fandom

Today's technology and entertainment make it easy for new fans to get into the sport. There are streaming services that let you watch live and completed races, as well as fantasy motor racing leagues where people can compete with their friends. 

Racing competitions such as Formula One are garnering new fans thanks to content like Netflix's popular Drive to Survive docuseries. The series pulls back the curtain on the sport and offers an easy way to learn the major players. 

Other forms of entertainment such as online bingo sites have motor racing-themed bingo and other games, such as Racing Wilds. With daily free bingo at Paddy Power, players can easily get access to these motor racing-themed bingo games. These titles continue to illustrate the demand for racing-related content even if it isn't branded.

You might also choose to catch up on some classic auto racing movies, such as Rush, Talladega Nights, and Italian Race. Beef up on your entertainment options to explore the nuances of the sport.



Study the competitors, past and present

Of course, you also need to learn the nuts and bolts of top-level auto racing. This can involve a mixture of studying the greats and understanding who today's top competitors are. 

For instance, ESPN ranks all-time great racers like A. J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, and Richard Petty among the best to ever do it. Look up some of their classic races and find out what aspects of their skillset allowed them to dominate the field. You can also develop a short list of favourite racers today that you can follow from competition to competition. Sports are always best when you have a dog in the fight, so figure out which competitors you like and respect the most.

Understand the sponsorships

In motor racing, it's important to understand where the money goes. Sponsorships are a huge part of the sport and dictate a competitor's team, resources, and ability to climb the ladder. This is only becoming more of a focal point, with bigger sponsors entering the sport, along with a bigger pool of drivers. 

According to Auto Service World reports, single racing organisations today are raking in $30 billion in sponsorships alone over the course of about a decade and a half. Understand the biggest players in this regard so that you understand the sport's economy. 

Simply put, motor racing is one of the most exciting sports in the world once you learn the intricacies of the various competitions. You have years of great races and drivers to catch up on, which is why it's such a treat to be a new fan. Use these tips so that you can get started on this journey. 




Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)


Hometown: Elk Grove, California


Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Kevin Meendering (interim)


Standings: 32nd

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No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


ATLANTA ACTION: Kyle Larson made his 300th start in the NASCAR Cup Series last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. During qualifying on Saturday, the 30-year-old driver solidified a ninth-place starting position for Sunday’s race. In the final stage of the race, the driver of the No. 5 quickly advanced back into the top-10. Larson continued his momentum forward up to second, until the leader spun and collected him in an on-track incident, resulting in a 31st-place result.

COUNTING THE CIRCUITS: Larson has led a series-best 270 laps through five races in 2023. This season, his 687 laps run in the top five are second to teammate William Byron and his 795 laps run in the top 10 are the fourth-most. 

COMING BACK TO COTA: This Sunday, the No. 5 team will compete at the first road course of the season, Circuit of The Americas (COTA). The March 26th race will mark Larson’s third Cup Series start on the 20-turn Austin, Texas, track. Larson has completed all 123 of the laps attempted on the 3.41-mile road course. In 2021, Larson led four laps on the course and finished in the runner-up position behind teammate Chase Elliott.

FOUR IN THREE: Of Hendrick Motorsports’ 26 road course wins, Larson has contributed the third-most victories to that total. With four road course triumphs, the 30-year-old driver sits behind Elliott (seven wins) and team vice chairman Jeff Gordon (nine wins). He is tied for second on the all-time list for drivers that have won at the most different number of road courses. Larson’s four road course wins have come at three different tracks: Watkins Glen International (two), Sonoma Raceway (one) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL (one). 

ROAD COURSE RANKS: Larson’s four road course victories since the start of 2021 mark the most of any driver. He is tied for second for wins by active drivers on road courses. Larson's record three road course wins in 2021 are the most won by one driver in a single season. His five stage wins on serpentine layouts are tied for second. During that stretch, he has been a part of three one-two finishes with Larson topping Elliott on two occasions and Elliott besting Larson once. 

BOTH ROADS TAKEN: Prior to coming to Hendrick Motorsports for the start of the 2021 season, Larson had three poles, one top-five finish, four top-10s and 69 laps led in 14 road course starts. In 13 road courses races since 2021, he has four wins, one pole, seven top-five finishes, seven top-10s and 155 laps led. 

FOUR TIRES FAST: The No. 5 pit crew ranks in the top 10 through five races based on their average four-tire stop time of 11.764 seconds. The team’s five-man pit crew consists of Blaine Anderson (front-tire changer), R.J. Barnette (tire carrier), Brandon Harder (fueler), Brandon Johnson (jackman) and Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer).

HOME RACE HATS: Last weekend at Atlanta, Hendrick Automotive Group kicked off its inaugural 2023 home race with a new exclusive hat program for fans. This Sunday’s home race at COTA is no different. Each home race this season (15 total) will feature a unique hat, which will be released the week of the race. Less than 100 of each limited-edition hat will be available for sale at the trackside merchandise haulers and one will be available to win on This week’s Texas themed hat will be released Thursday and can be found here.

HENDRICKCARS.COM IN AUSTIN: The Austin, Texas, automotive market is home to two dealerships. Not located in Austin? You can pick from any one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 95 dealerships nationwide. Customers can also shop from the convenience of their home by selecting the category, make, model and vehicle packages that are important to them from the nearly 30,000 new, high-quality pre-owned and certified cars, trucks and SUVs available at

WE’RE HIRING: Join 10,000+ others nationwide in working at Hendrick Automotive Group. Hendrick is hiring technicians and other positions at its dealerships throughout the country. Positions are open for all skill levels and offer tuition and training reimbursement. Individuals who are interested can apply at




Age: 31 (May 10, 1991)


Hometown: Orlando, Florida


Resides: Apopka, Florida


Crew Chief: Tom Gray (interim)


Standings: 39th (owner's points)

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No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


TAYLOR-ED FOR THE 9: This weekend at Circuit of The Americas (COTA), road racing standout Jordan Taylor will fill in as the driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 as Chase Elliott continues to recover from a fractured tibia. The 31-year-old Taylor becomes the 14th driver to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Hendrick Motorsports. The Orlando, Florida, native currently competes full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing and is a 31-time IMSA Class winner. Taylor co-drove with NASCAR Hall of Famer and current Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon in the 2017 24 Hours of DAYTONA, scoring the overall victory. He also earned the overall victory in 2019 24 Hours of DAYTONA. Taylor has won multiple titles in his career, including the 2013 GRAND-AM Daytona Prototype championship, the 2017 IMSA Prototype championship and back-to-back IMSA GTLM championships in 2020 and 2021. He also plays a significant role in the Garage 56 program – a partnership between NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – serving as a driver coach and reserve driver for the team. 
COTA HISTORY: While this Sunday marks Taylor’s first career start in a stock car at COTA, he has had past success at the Austin, Texas, based road course. Taylor placed first overall in the 2016 and 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events at the venue. 

ON IT IN AUSTIN: The No. 9 team has a strong history at COTA. In just two races there, the team has a series-best average finish of 2.50 and captured a victory at the track in 2021 with Elliott. Last year, the No. 9 Chevrolet earned a fourth-place result. The No. 9 squad is the only team to place in the top five in both COTA races. 

RECAPPING THE WIN: Elliott and the No. 9 team scored the victory in the inaugural Cup Series race at COTA. It was a wild and wet affair, with rain steadily pouring on the track throughout the race. Elliott was in the lead with 14 laps to go when the race was halted due to standing water on the track. The event was called shortly after and the Dawsonville, Georgia, native was declared the winner. It was the No. 9 team’s first of two victories during the 2021 season and the milestone 800th win for Chevrolet. 

ROAD COURSE WARRIORS: Since 2018, the No. 9 team has visited victory lane seven times across five different road courses. The team’s most recent win on a serpentine track came in 2021 at Road America. Last season, Elliott led the team to three top-five finishes and four top-10s across six starts on road courses. He started from the front row three times, including two pole awards (Road America and Watkins Glen International).  

RETURN OF UNIFIRST: This weekend at COTA, UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF), a North American leader in providing customized work uniform programs, corporate attire and facility service products, will serve as the primary sponsor on the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This will mark the first of three races that UniFirst will partner with the team in 2023. Its colors will also be on board at Kansas Speedway in May and at Richmond Raceway in July. Get a look at all the angles of the UniFirst Chevrolet here

CHEVY STAGE: Taylor will stop by the Team Chevy display at COTA on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. local time for a Q&A session with fans.




Age: 25 (Nov. 29, 1997)


Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina


Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Brian Campe (interim)


Standings: 28th

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No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


24 IN ’23: William Byron and the No. 24 team are off to a hot start in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. So far this year, Byron has led the second-most laps (240) behind only his teammate Kyle Larson (270). After five races this year, he leads the series in wins (two) and laps run in the top five (706). On top of that, the 25-year-old is tied for both the most stage wins (three) and the second-most top-five finishes (two). He is also tied for third in top-10 finishes in a stage (seven) and is third for laps run in the top 10 (866). 

PIT ROAD PROWESS: In the first five races of 2023, the No. 24 pit crew has an average four-tire pit stop time of 11.356 seconds – the fourth-best average in the field. The No. 24 pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Landon Walker (fueler). The No. 24 pit crew also had the best four-tire pit stop in the 2023 DAYTONA 500 with a time of 11.278 seconds.

ROAD COURSE RESULTS: This Sunday’s race will mark the third Cup Series race for Byron at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). In his first two starts at the 3.41-mile road course, Byron has two top-15 finishes, an 11th (2021) and a 12th-place result (2022). His average finish at COTA of 11.50 ranks seventh-best in the Cup Series and is second-best for him personally based on average finish across all tracks on the schedule. In 21 Cup Series road course starts, Byron is one of 11 drivers to earn multiple stage wins (two).

DOUBLE UP: Byron is pulling double duty at COTA this weekend. In addition to Sunday’s Cup Series race, he’ll drive the No. 17 Chevrolet Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday afternoon. Axalta, of which its Raptor brand is a primary sponsor for Byron's Cup Series ride, will also serve as an associate partner on his Xfinity Series car. This will be the first race for the No. 17 Chevy in 2023. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native has four wins in the series, which all came in his 2017 championship campaign with Hendrick Motorsports affiliate JR Motorsports.

GOT 99 PROBLEMS, BUT WINNING AIN’T ONE: With his two victories to start the year, Byron continues to make his mark on the legacy of the No. 24 at the Cup Series level. Those two wins bring the No. 24 one victory away from 100. Currently fifth with 99 wins, the No. 24 is only behind the No. 3 with 101, the No. 2 with 102 wins, the No. 43 with 200 wins and the No. 11 with 228 wins on the all-time list.

LIBERTY U IS BACK: This Sunday at COTA, Byron will once again sport his updated Liberty University paint scheme. Featuring a white base with navy flames and red accents, the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will be sure to stand out on track. Liberty University has a long history with Byron dating back in 2014 in the late model ranks. Liberty University has been Training Champions for Christ since it was founded in 1971. Located in the mountains of Central Virginia, Liberty is a liberal arts institution with 17 colleges and schools that offers more than 600 degree programs from the certificate to the doctoral level, on campus and online. Working on an undergraduate degree in strategic communication, Byron is now in his junior year at Liberty University through its online program. For a better look at Byron’s new Liberty University paint scheme, click here


48 Alex Bowman


Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)


Hometown: Tucson, Arizona


Resides: Concord, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Greg Ives (interim)


Standings: 20th

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No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


ATL REWIND: In the fifth NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2023 season, Alex Bowman started 15th in the 400-mile event at Atlanta Motor Speedway after Saturday’s qualifying session. The driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 finished the first stage in 14th and the second stage in third. On the day, he earned a 14th-place finish at the 1.54-mile venue.  

STILL BEST: Through the first five races this year, Bowman has the best average finish of all drivers in the Cup Series. His average finish of 7.80 is best by two positions and is the ninth-best average finish all time through five races by a Hendrick Motorsports driver. Additionally, Bowman has two top-five finishes, four top-10s, 31 laps led and an average starting position of 9.80. The 29-year-old driver also has led laps in three of five races and tallied his sixth straight front row start in the DAYTONA 500 when he captured the pole position in February. 

AWESOME IN AUSTIN: This Sunday, the Cup Series heads back to Austin, Texas to take on the first road course of the 2023 Cup Series schedule at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). Bowman has turned laps at the serpentine track twice in NASCAR’s premier series, finishing in the top 10 in both appearances (eighth in May 2021 and second in March 2022). The Tucson, Arizona, native has an average finish of 5.00 – third-best of all active drivers. Bowman’s average finish at COTA is his best among active tracks with the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL close behind (6.00 in four starts).

TRUCKIN’ IN TEXAS: On Saturday, Bowman will strap into the No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado for Spire Motorsports in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. will serve as the team’s primary sponsor while Ally, Bowman’s full-time sponsor in the Cup Series, will be showcased on the truck’s lower-rear quarter panels. He ran this race last year and was contending for the win on the final lap, before an on-track incident relegated him to a 25th-place finish.

GOT THAT DOG IN ‘EM: The No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew holds the fourth-fastest pit stop of the 2023 season. On lap 185 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the five-man crew made a four-tire pit stop of 9.776 seconds. The over-the-wall crew is made up of rear-tire changer Andrew Bridgeforth (rear-tire changer), Jacob Conley (fueler), Allen Holman (jackman), Scott Riddle (tire carrier) and Donnie Tasser (front-tire changer). 

HOMETOWN HERO: Parker Winebrenner, aerodynamics engineer for the No. 48 Ally Racing team, will return to his home state this weekend at COTA. A native of Houston, Winebrenner began working with interim crew chief of the No. 48 team Greg Ives and Bowman just before the duo’s first win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2019. His motor sports career started when he worked on a Trans Am TA2 Chevrolet Camaro test car in January 2018 at COTA. Winebrenner went on to work for Napoleon Motorsports and helped in the Pirelli World Challenge, which both competed at COTA, before making his way to Hendrick Motorsports. 

SAVE THEM ALL: Bowman and primary partner Ally are teaming up this year to bring back the Best Friends Animal Society donation effort. This week, the duo will make charitable contributions to the PAWS Shelter of Central Texas, which serves the local community in Austin. Bowman and Ally will donate $4,800 to Best Friends and the PAWS Shelter of Central Texas. Ally will increase its donation to $10,000 if the No. 48 team wins on Sunday.  
: The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will adorn two versions of its primary scheme during the 2023 Cup Series season. The No. 48 Ally Chevy "day" scheme will host a white base with bright plum, grapefruit, and seafoam stripes down the side. This version of the primary scheme will appear at races that take place during the day. When the lights come on over the racetrack, the black-based No. 48 Ally Chevy "night" scheme will be sported with a similar design to its daytime counterpart. This weekend, the No. 48 machine will adorn the “day” scheme. Check out all the angles of the new look here. 




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CLOSING IN ON 300: Hendrick Motorsports is seven points-paying victories away from 300 in the NASCAR Cup Series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 293 wins, which is the most in the sport by any one team. With two wins this season, Hendrick Motorsports achieved its 36th multi-win season in the Cup Series. In each of the last 30 seasons, the organization has won at least two races. 

ATOP THE BOX: For this weekend’s race, Kevin Meendering (No. 5), Tom Gray (No. 9), Brian Campe (No. 24) and Greg Ives (No. 48) will fill in as crew chiefs. While appealing penalties assessed by NASCAR coming out of Phoenix Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has elected not to request deferral of personnel suspensions. Meendering and Ives have a wide range of experience as crew chiefs and currently lead the organization's NASCAR Xfinity Series efforts. Gray is the former lead engineer on the No. 9, while Campe is Hendrick Motorsports' technical director.

XFINITY RIDES AGAIN: Hendrick Motorsports will make the first of its four starts in the Xfinity Series this season at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). William Byron will drive the car this weekend. The entry will also make starts at Sonoma Raceway with Kyle Larson, Watkins Glen International with Alex Bowman and Darlington Raceway with Larson. Ives and Meendering will oversee the effort. The organization has one championship and 26 wins in the series with Tony Stewart recording the last victory to date at Daytona International Speedway in 2009. Last year's four races in Xfinity marked the team's first entries in the series in 13 years. In those four starts, the team earned two pole positions, two runner-up finishes and three top-fives. 

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: For the Xfinity races, the Chevrolet Camaro will carry the No. 17 with sponsorship from The No. 17 carries special significance to the Hendrick Motorsports family as it is the same number Ricky Hendrick drove in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series. That number has won 39 times in Xfinity Series history and two of the four drivers to win in it – Darrell Waltrip and Terry Labonte – would go on to win in the Cup Series with the Rick Hendrick-owned organization. 

DISHING ON DEBUTS: Jordan Taylor will become the 14th driver to make his Cup Series debut for Hendrick Motorsports and the first since Byron in 2018. Rob Moroso's 14th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October 1988 stands as the best finish by a driver making their top series debut with the team. 

IN THE KNOW: This weekend's race at COTA will be the first time that teams will be on a road course to use the rules package designed to have a decrease in downforce for most short ovals and road courses. Teams will get a 50-minute practice session on Friday, starting at 1:05 p.m. local time. In the event of wet weather, teams will have Goodyear rain tires available for use with white lettering on the sidewalls. Sunday's race will also mark the first race without predetermined cautions (for stage breaks) since the advent of stage racing in 2017. The last race held before the introduction of stage racing occurred at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Nov. 2016, won by Jimmie Johnson for his record-tying seventh Cup Series title and Hendrick Motorsports' 12th Cup Series championship.

RULERS OF THE ROAD: At 26 wins, Hendrick Motorsports has the most all-time triumphs on road courses in Cup Series history. The two closest teams in this statistic have combined for only 22 wins. Since their inaugural season in 1984, the organization has won 28.57% of road course events (26 wins in 91 races). The team also tops the board among Cup Series teams on road courses in poles (24), top-five finishes (80), top-10s (138), laps led (2,172) and stage wins (13). 

COUNTING 'EM UP: Seven different drivers have accounted for the 26 road course wins in team history and those seven winners are the most for a Cup Series team on road courses. Jeff Gordon leads the way for the team with nine victories (which are also the most among all drivers) followed by Elliott with seven and Larson has four. Tim Richmond had three wins followed by Johnson, Geoff Bodine and Ricky Rudd with one victory apiece.

WINNING ALL OVER: To date, Hendrick Motorsports has won on seven of the eight road courses they have competed on. Watkins Glen is the winningest road course for the squad with 10 wins followed by Sonoma at seven. The Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Riverside International Raceway have each been home to three wins. COTA, the Daytona International Speedway Road Course and Road America have had one victory each by the team. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is the only layout with left and right turns where the squad has yet to record a victory.

STUDYING THE TRENDS: In the last 20 road course races, the Concord, North Carolina-based organization has won 11 times. Only one other team has more all-time wins on road courses (14) than the number of wins Hendrick Motorsports has scored in the last 20 races on serpentine layouts. 

ONE-TWO TIMES FOUR: There have been four occurrences where the team has finished one-two on a road course. In 2019, Elliott and Bowman finished one-two at the Charlotte ROVAL. In 2021, Elliott and Larson finished in the top two at COTA. That same year, Larson topped Elliott in one-two finishes at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. All four of those finishes have come in the last 16 road course races. 

TAKE ME TO THE LEADER: Hendrick Motorsports’ 542 laps out front are the third-most in team history through five races. The only higher marks came in 1995 (953 laps led) and 1996 (699 laps led). Those two seasons resulted in the first two of the organization’s 14 Cup Series championship-winning years.




Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing at Circuit of The Americas: "We’ve gotten both COTA’s I feel like. (We got) the monsoon the first year, which was my first-ever time really racing in the rain. So that was a blast. We came up a little short there because it started raining a little too hard and we had to call the race short. We were in position to win that one. Last year, I didn’t qualify well, didn’t race well and did a terrible job on restarts. I look forward to going back to hopefully do a better job behind the wheel, having a better setup under us and having a better opportunity to race for a win would be great."

Jordan Taylor, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the expectations and preparation for his first NASCAR Cup Series start: "Any driver wants to be at the front and battling for the win, but I think I have to keep my expectations in check. Everyone in the Cup Series these days is good on every form of racing, whether it's a superspeedway, short track or a road course. I know that it's going to be a big uphill battle, battling these guys. I'm glad we do have an extra (practice) session to kind of understand it. From a driver's perspective, I have the belief that I can figure out how to drive the car and then it just comes down to the little details of pit stops, pit lane speed. I'm used to pushing a button on the steering wheel and it controls my pit lane speed. In NASCAR, you have to control it all yourself. So little details like that are the things that I've been bouncing off Chase (Elliott); little tricks of the trade and what to expect. Even little things like coming into the pit box, knowing how to launch the car and things like that. I know it’s going to be a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m really grateful for the opportunity."

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on running two races at COTA: "I’m really optimistic for this weekend, especially running double duty. We’ve always seemed to run well at COTA but just need to be a step better. I think the No. 24 team has shown that this year already. The only real difference for this race is that there are no longer true stage breaks, but that just changes how we work our strategy. If we go out and execute, we should be in a good spot for both races in the end. Hopefully, we can go out and not only get Mr. (Rick) Hendrick a win in the No. 17 but also Liberty University a win in the No. 24."

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on pulling double duty at COTA: "I am excited to go truck racing at COTA this weekend. Last year, we had a lot of speed and I am hopeful we have the same this weekend. It would be really neat to have wins in all of NASCAR’s national series and this weekend gives me another chance to add that to my resumé. I also like running the truck because it helps me for Sunday’s Cup Series race."

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The popularity of electric cars has been growing rapidly in recent years due to their environmental benefits and cost savings. This shift towards electric cars has also impacted the world of motorsports, including NASCAR. The racing organization has been working to promote sustainability, and as part of these efforts, they have been moving towards electric cars. This has opened up new opportunities for electric car rental companies, as NASCAR fans seek out eco-friendly transportation options for their race day experiences.


The Rise of Electric Cars in NASCAR

NASCAR has been making efforts to promote sustainability in recent years, including implementing eco-friendly practices at their events and partnering with various environmental organizations. One major move towards sustainability has been the introduction of electric cars in NASCAR. In 2020, the organization launched the "NASCAR Acceleration Nation" initiative, which includes the use of electric go-karts to introduce young fans to the sport and promote sustainability.

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Onboard Camera
For the fourth consecutive race, Daniel Dye will be one of two drivers in the field with onboard camera coverage featured on the FS1 telecast. Deland Motorsports & Outdoors is this weeks presenting partner for live coverage on the No. 43 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado


TV Ratings
810,000 people tuned in to the live broadcast at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 18. The event was rebroadcast three additional times, averaging more than 100,000 viewers each.


Circuit Of The Americas Stats

Daniel Dye will be making his first start in any series at COTA on Saturday.


ARCA Road Course Stats (Mid-Ohio & Watkins Glen)

Combined Starts: 2; Best start: 8th; Best finish: 4th (Watkins Glen, 2022); Top 5s: 1, Top 10s: 2


ARCA West Road Course Stats (Portland)

Starts: 1; Poles: 1 (Portland, 2022); Best finish: 4th (Portland, 2022); Top 5s: 1; Top 10s: 1


2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Season Stats

Starts: 3; Best start: 19th; Best finish: 16th (Atlanta); Laps led: 5; Current points position: 19th

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