William Byron Becomes the First Cup Series Driver with Multiple Wins After Victory at COTA

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Circuit of the Americas, Austin, TX — March 24, 2024

NASCAR’s first road race of 2024, the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix from the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is one of five road/street courses on the Cup Series schedule. The sprawling Circuit of The Americas road course has hosted three NASCAR Cup Series races (2021-2023), producing three different pole winners and three different race winners.

Construction began in 2010 on 1,500 acres of land just outside of Austin, Texas, on what is now known as the Circuit of The Americas. The 20-turn, 3.41-mile, multi-elevational counterclockwise circuit takes advantage of the naturally rolling landscape, including a 133-foot hill at Turn 1. The track also has an amphitheater, the largest permanent outdoor amphitheater in Central Texas, and a 251-foot observation tower.

Starting this year, the NASCAR Cup Series Next Gen cars will run a simplified diffuser at most tracks measuring one mile or shorter and all road courses. (Note: Los Angeles, Bristol, and Dover are excluded.) This weekend will be the first event the new package will be used. Here are the details of the updated components.

  • 2023 short track/road course splitter stuffers
  • No engine panel strakes
  • 3-inch spoiler
  • Simplified Diffuser
  • Simplified Diffuser Strakes

What to Expect Today

In arguably one of the greatest short track races ever last Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin banked his first win of the 2024 season. He became the fifth different winner in the first five races of the year; joining William Byron (Daytona), Daniel Suarez (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas) and Christopher Bell (Phoenix).

Now, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Austin, Texas, for a showdown on a road course that has produced three different winners in its last three races. All the ingredients are lining up. Could the streak of different winners this season keep rolling? Will we see a sixth?

The Modern Era (1972-2024) record of different winners to start a NASCAR Cup Series season is 10, set back in 2000.

None of the former COTA winners have won this season and are looking to get back to Victory Lane. Hendrick Motorsport’s Chase Elliott won the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the track in 2021. Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain won his first NASCAR Cup Series race here after starting from the 16th position in 2022.

Last season, 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick won the NASCAR Cup Series race after starting from second position. Interestingly, Reddick has won five career Cup races, three of which have come on road courses: Road America (2022), Indianapolis Road Course (2022), and COTA (2023). He is one of the favorites today, starting in the third position.

Other favorites.

Active Road Course Winners (minimum 3 wins) Wins
Chase Elliott 7
Martin Truex Jr 5
Kyle Busch 4
Kyle Larson 4
AJ Allmendinger 3
Tyler Reddick 3

Today’s Race

COTA is the longest track the NASCAR Cup Series races on, 3.426 miles. Today’s race distance is 231.88 miles, or 68 times around the circuit. Stages are 15/15/38 laps. William Byron is on the pole, with Ty Gibbs starting beside him on the front row.

Shane van Gisbergen, last year’s winner on the Chicago street course, is in today’s race. He starts 12th. Road racing specialist AJ Allmendinger lines up in the 15th position.  Kamui Kobayashi, another road racing import, endurance style, will be 25th on the starting grid. A total of 39 cars will take the green flag today.

Kamui Kobayashi, waves to the crowd prior to the start of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix from the Circuit of the Americas / NASCAR Photo

 

Stage One

William Byron(24) got a great start, but Ty Gibbs(54) did not. Gibbs was passed by Tyler Reddick(45) on the climb up the hill to turn one.

The Start of the NASCAR Cup Series Race at COTA / NASCAR Photo

Byron and Reddick quickly built a small interval on the remainder of the field. However, Reddick began to lose touch with the leader, and Gibbs pulled the rest of the pack back in touch with the second-place car.

While Byron stretched his lead to over three seconds, Gibbs passed for second, and Christopher Bell(20) followed into the third spot. Reddick held fourth, with Ross Chastain(1) and AJ Allmendinger(13) following in fifth and sixth.

With five laps to go in the stage, both Gibbs and Bell had cut into Byron’s lead interval, shaving off one second.

Pit stop strategy today could be varied as teams search for any advantage they can give their drivers.

A number of drivers out of the top ten opted to pit with four laps to go before the pit road was closed with two laps to go.

With three laps to go, all but 12 cars came in for service. Reddick gave up the fourth spot and the opportunity for Stage points. Before the leader crossed the start/finish line, Byron, Gibbs, Chastain, and Allmendinger came to the pit road.

Bell inherited the lead and the points that go with a Stage win, finishing first at lap 15.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 20 Christopher Bell 10
2 99 Daniel Suarez 9
3 34 Michael McDowell* 8
4 2 Austin Cindric* 7
5 3 Austin Dillon 6
6 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 5
7 24 William Byron 4
8 54 Ty Gibbs 3
9 45 Tyler Reddick 2
10 1 Ross Chastain 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Stage Two

Bell and Michael McDowell(34) stayed out during the Stage-ending caution, possibly considering trying to make it a two-stop race. Everyone else came to pit road for fuel and tires. Byron, Gibbs, and Chastain lined up behind the two leaders.

Pit Road exit at COTA / NASCAR Photo

When racing resumed, McDowell dropped back, and Reddick took his place in the top five. Byron moved back to the lead, and Reddick followed him past Bell. Gibbs and Chastain dropped Bell to fifth.

Kyle Larson(5), Kyle Busch(8), Chase Elliott(9), and Allmendinger were all knocking on the door of the top five behind Bell.

With seven laps to go in Stage Two, van Gisbergen entered the top 10 for the first time.

Drivers started pitting on lap 23. Reddick came to pit road with three laps to go in Stage Two as the different service cycles continued. Most of the leaders pitted the next time around before the pits closed.

Denny Hamlin(11), Ryan Blaney(11), Martin Truex Jr.(19), and Todd Gilliland(38) moved to the lead positions. Hamlin got his first Stage win of the year.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 10
2 12 Ryan Blaney* 9
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 8
4 38 Todd Gilliland* 7
5 41 Ryan Preece* 6
6 6 Brad Keselowski* 5
7 42 John Hunter Nemechek 4
8 24 William Byron 3
9 31 Daniel Hemric 2
10 4 Josh Berry* 1

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

The Final Stage

Without scheduled caution flags for the remainder of the race, the Third Stage will require teams to select the best time to visit the pit road. Should a racing incident caution slow the field, it could have a significant impact on the potential race winner.

After those who stayed on track to gain Stage points pitted during the Stage-ending caution, the running order for the start of the final segment was set. Byron led back to the restart. He was followed by Gibbs, Chastain, Reddick, Alex Bowman(48), and Austin Dillon(3).

Chastain made the most of the run up the hill to the first turn and emerged the leader over Gibbs and Byron. An informal poll in the garage recently asked who is the hardest driver to pass. The results: Ross Chastain. Ty Gibbs found that out as he tried to move past the #1 car for his first lead of the after. Gibbs got beside Chastain but got moved off the preferred line in the next corner. The move cost Gibbs as Byron moved in and took the second spot away.

Up the Hill at COTA / NASCAR Photo

Chastain hounded Byron but couldn’t regain the lead. They both pitted with 25 laps to go, and the cycle through the field began. Chastain lost three seconds to Byron on their stops, dropping him further behind the expected leader when all stops are complete.

Truex and Blaney were the final leaders to pit with 18 laps to go, putting Byron back out front. Behind the leader, his teammate Alex Bowman(48) ran second 1.8 seconds in arrears. Gibbs, Reddick, and Chastain rounded out the top five.

The Finish

As the laps wound down, Christopher Bell was the only driver making moves. He passed Chastain and Reddick to move into the fourth position. Byron had extended his lead over Bowman to almost four seconds, and Gibbs was closing on the #48 car every lap.

Gibbs caught and passed Bowman with eight laps to go. Bell was closing fast on all three drivers in front of him. With seven laps to go, Bell passed Bowman while Gibbs took a second off Byron’s lead.

Christopher Bell passed Gibbs with three laps to go and was gaining on the leader as the laps wound down to two to go. Of course, catching the leader is one thing. Passing is another.

Byron took the white flag, eliminating the possibility of the race going into overtime. Bell cut the deficit to one second but could not catch Byron, who became the first driver to repeat in 2024, adding to his win at Daytona to start the season.

NASCAR Cup Series Standings

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 William Byron 183 In Win (2)
2 Denny Hamlin 206 In Win
3 Kyle Larson 204 In Win
4 Christopher Bell 183 In Win
5 Daniel Suarez 147 In Win
6 Martin Truex Jr. 220 +89
7 Ty Gibbs 215 +84
8 Ryan Blaney* 211 +80
9 Ross Chastain 182 +51
10 Chase Elliott 173 +42
11 Tyler Reddick 171 +40
12 Alex Bowman 165 +34
13 Chris Buescher* 153 +22
14 Kyle Busch 150 +19
15 John Hunter Nemechek 143 +12
16 Brad Keselowski* 133 +2
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Chase Briscoe* 131 -2
18 Bubba Wallace 129 -4
19 Michael McDowell* 119 -14
20 Austin Cindric* 118 -15
21 Erik Jones 105 -28
22 Joey Logano* 100 -33
23 Corey LaJoie 98 -35
24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 97 -36
25 Carson Hocevar 94 -39

*Ford Mustang Dark Horse Drivers

Results of the EchoPark Auto Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas

POS CAR DRIVER DELTA LAPS
1 24 William Byron 68
2 20 Christopher Bell 0.692 68
3 54 Ty Gibbs 2.778 68
4 48 Alex Bowman 12.675 68
5 45 Tyler Reddick 13.162 68
6 13 AJ Allmendinger 18.979 68
7 1 Ross Chastain 20.988 68
8 17 Chris Buescher 24.316 68
9 8 Kyle Busch 25.329 68
10 19 Martin Truex Jr. 31.628 68
11 22 Joey Logano 32.491 68
12 12 Ryan Blaney 34.150 68
13 14 Chase Briscoe 38.645 68
14 11 Denny Hamlin 42.504 68
15 23 Bubba Wallace 42.860 68
16 9 Chase Elliott 43.211 68
17 51 Justin Haley 44.121 68
18 5 Kyle Larson 44.885 68
19 2 Austin Cindric 45.195 68
20 71 Zane Smith 46.113 68
21 16 Shane Van Gisbergen 47.374 68
22 42 John Hunter Nemechek 56.678 68
23 77 Carson Hocevar 58.723 68
24 41 Ryan Preece 58.744 68
25 7 Corey LaJoie 59.109 68
26 3 Austin Dillon 60.090 68
27 38 Todd Gilliland 60.975 68
28 15 Kaz Grala 61.529 68
29 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 70.102 68
30 50 Kamui Kobayashi 74.371 68
31 21 Harrison Burton 79.947 68
32 99 Daniel Suarez 81.779 68
33 43 Erik Jones 104.257 68
34 6 Brad Keselowski 114.796 67
35 10 Noah Gragson -1 67
36 4 Josh Berry -1 67
37 66 Timmy Hill -2 66
38 31 Daniel Hemric -2 66
39 34 Michael McDowell -17 51