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COTA’s roller-coaster Turn 1 is ‘just going to be chaos’

Steve Letarte and Dan Beaver analyze the field for the first NASCAR Cup Series race on the Circuit of the Americas road course and reveal their favorite bets.

AUSTIN, Texas — The frontstretch at the Circuit of the Americas rises like a roller coaster, sending those who climb it on a spine-tingling ride around the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

With esses, high-speed straightaways and sharp corners, this track has many of the elements of a thrill ride.

Perhaps none more so than the first turn.

The track climbs 133 feet and is followed by a hairpin curve that sends cars back down the hill.

There might not be a more inviting place for bravado or buffoonery.

MORE: Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race

“It’s just going to be chaos,” AJ Allmendinger told NBC Sports after Friday’s practice session for the Xfinity Series.

“I think early, maybe everybody is probably — hopefully — a little cool about it. But if you get a late-race restart … if the first row doesn’t get separated from the rest of the group, it’s wide enough and you start to lose your brake zones and where everything is, it’s going to be chaotic, quite honestly.”

Bottom line, Allmendinger said, is “restarts are going to be insane. Everybody is going to be aggressive trying to make up spots and a lot of bad things can happen there.”

Allmendinger is among the entered for both the Xfinity race Saturday (4 p.m. ET on FS1) and Sunday’s Cup race. Others entered in both races include Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain, Justin Haley and Austin Cindric, who was the fastest in Friday’s Xfinity practice session.

After running 10 laps in Friday’s Xfinity practice, Reddick’s anticipation for the race continued to build.

“This is going to be something,” he said with a smile. “I was very excited about what the racing would look like here in stock cars. So far, it’s met my expectations. I think it’s going to be very, very easy to overstep the corners.

“I did it myself. … The drivers like me, like others that don’t have a lot of road racing experience, they have to be very smart not to overstep the entry and blow through a corner, lock a tire up or go off the track. It’s going to be very intense battling, very intense racing.”

And then Reddick said: “You’re going to see some things you don’t see at other road courses.”

Daniel Hemric was asked to describe which turn surprised him in practice. He discussed Turn 1.

“That’s a cool visual getting into Turn 1 and then all of the sudden the race track crowns away and the track goes left and you feel like you missed it every time,” he said. “A lot going on and for sure going to be an exciting spot on restarts.”