After an extended practice session on Friday, the NASCAR Cup Series garage seemed to be in agreement that Tyler Reddick was the favorite to win Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas (COTA).
Driving for 23XI Racing, Reddick was the quickest driver in Friday’s practice, and posted a new track record in qualifying on Saturday, so the only natural conclusion to the weekend would have been a victory.
Though, while Reddick easily had the fastest car on the track, the Corning, California native had to endure a misstep in strategy early in the event, as well as several restarts at the conclusion of Sunday’s race at the 3.41-mile road course.
Over the course of the race, the 27-year-old driver really only had one legitimate challenger, that being two-time winner this season, William Byron, who was the only driver that could seemingly go toe-to-toe with the Monster Energy-sponsored entry.
For the most part, things seemed to be status quo for Reddick in the closing stages of the race, having made the pass on William Byron after going wide on one of the restarts in the closing stages of the race, with five laps until the race’s scheduled end.
However, the NASCAR Cup Series field seemingly decided they needed more time to chase down Reddick and Byron.
With less than 10 to go, a caution was displayed for Brad Keselowski, who had stopped his No. 6 Ford Mustang in the infield after a rough go at the 3.41-mile road course on Sunday. From there, things got aggressive.
In fact, over the final 10 laps of Sunday’s event, there were a total of 15 recorded incidents, several of which brought out cautions and provided opportunities for the field to be bunched up, and have another go at Reddick in turn one.
While the restarts were less-than-perfect by Reddick, who found himself nearly losing the lead of the race on almost every single one of them, the No. 45 was able to maneuver his way back into the lead and hold on.
Though, after the third attempt at NASCAR Overtime, the field finally settled enough to where the leader would make it back to the white flag, allowing Reddick to create an insurmountable gap over the cars behind.
Kyle Busch was able to take advantage of an unorthodox strategy call to leap from the mid-20s in the running order, into the top-five, keeping his track position and finishing in the runner-up spot for Richard Childress Racing.
Alex Bowman was able to snatch third place away after a great move on the second-to-last restart, earning him another solid result in the first six races of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
Ross Chastain finished the race in fourth-place, a rebound for the ages, after getting collected in a significant wreck inside the final 10 laps of the scheduled distance, which broke the toe link on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro.
In what will likely be a disappointing result for William Byron, the driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro brought his Hendrick Motorsports entry home in fifth, after challenging Reddick for the win all day.
Austin Cindric finished the race in sixth, while Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Chris Buescher, Ty Gibbs, and Todd Gilliland completed the top-10 in the first of six road course events in 2023.
After earning a top-five at Atlanta, Corey LaJoie put together another fantastic run for Spire Motorsports, finishing in 11th. Road ringers Jenson Button, Jordan Taylor, and Kimi Raikkonen earned finishes of 18th, 24th, and 29th, respectively.
Leaving COTA, Ross Chastain holds a 19-point advantage over Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings, as the series heads to Richmond, Virginia. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Christopher Bell round out the top-five.
Up next for the NASCAR Cup Series is the series’ first point-paying event on a track smaller than one-mile at Richmond Raceway, where Denny Hamlin will look to back up his performance from last season.
2023 NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Grand Prix at COTA Race Results