Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup race at COTA
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has attracted an entry list that includes talent beyond that of the tour regulars.
Jordan Taylor, who is substituting in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet for injured Chase Elliott, brings a resume that includes 31 IMSA class wins, two 24 Hours of Daytona overall wins and two IMSA wins at COTA.
Jenson Button won the Formula One championship in 2009 and has five F1 starts at COTA. He is scheduled to be a driver for the NASCAR entry in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Kimi Raikkonen, entered by Trackhouse Racing as part of its Project 91 program, won the 2007 F1 championship and has eight F1 starts at the Austin track.
They will draw attention at COTA this weekend, along with these other drivers to watch:
- Points position: 5th
- Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Atlanta I)
- Past at COTA: 19th and 14th in two career starts
Keselowski hasn’t been a star in road course racing, but his 2023 season has started well, and he figures to be in the mix at the front Sunday. He led the white-flag lap at Atlanta last Sunday before Joey Logano passed him for the win.
- Points position: 17th
- Best seasonal finish: 6th (Daytona 500)
- Past at COTA: 5th and 33rd in two starts
The Dinger is a road course expert. Last year at COTA, he was involved in tight racing on the final lap with Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman before Chastain emerged with the victory.
- Points position: 3rd
- Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Auto Club)
- Past at COTA: Two straight top fours, including a win
Chastain lifted Trackhouse Racing’s profile by scoring his -- and the team’s -- first Cup victory at COTA last season. He’s not shy about participating in the last-lap bumping and thumping that often mark road course races.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
- Points position: 13th
- Best seasonal finish: 4th (Daytona 500)
- Past at COTA: 13th and 21st in two starts
Buescher has never led a lap at COTA and is coming off a 35th-place finish at Atlanta after being swept up in a Lap 190 crash. Although he has shown the power to run near the front this year, he has four consecutive finishes of 13th or worse.
- Points position: 20th
- Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Las Vegas I)
- Past at COTA: Two straight top 10s
Bowman’s four-race run of consistent excellence (finishes of fifth, eighth, third and ninth) ended at Atlanta as he came home 14th and failed to lead a lap. At COTA, he is one of only four drivers with top-10 finishes in both races.
- Points position: 28th
- Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I)
- Past at COTA: 11th and 12th in two starts
Involvement in an accident at Atlanta ended Byron’s two-race winning streak. He’ll be looking to lead a lap at COTA for the first time.