Sunday March 26, 2023 by Julie Bouchard
The first race on the road circuit of the 2023 NASCAR Cup series season, the event presented this Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin (Texas), was awaited by many fans of NASCAR but also of the road circuit and even of Formula 1 !
In addition to the fact that this meeting is the only Cup series contested on a track also hosting the F1 World Championship (before perhaps the arrival of the series on the Gilles-Villeneuve circuit in Montreal next year) , the participation of two former world champions was a first in the annals of NASCAR’s premier series. And if for Kimi Räikkönen (Chevrolet / Trackhouse Racing), it was a second start after Watkins Glen last year, for Jenson Button (Ford / Rick Ware Racing), it was a complete novelty.
Add to that the participation of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and IMSA Endurance champion Jordan Taylor in addition to the regulars of the series and the poster was more than sumptuous in front of an audience who came in large numbers to settle in the stands.
However, the race was strewn with incidents, with 7 yellow flags and 3 periods of neutralization necessary before being able to conclude on the green. Thus, the first 66 laps were completed in 3 hours but the following 9 in 30 minutes, the drivers showing very little discipline during the restarts. This notably cost good places to Kimi Räikkönen (15th during the 1st restart, 27th in the end), Joey Logano (from 8th to 29th) or even Jordan Taylor, who replaced Chase Elliott in one of the Hendrick Motorsports cars. . 9th on the penultimate restart, he finished 24th.
Pole position holder Tyler Reddick (Toyota/23XI Racing) dominated most of the race, winning segment 2 en route to his second road circuit victory with a lead of 1.411 seconds over Kyle Busch (Chevrolet/Richard Childress Racing).
Three other Chevrolet drivers completed the Top 5, namely Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, the winner of this event last year, and William Byron, author of the victory in segment 1, ahead of the best Ford representative, Austin Cindric.
Season-opening Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished 7th, ahead of Chris Buescher, Ty Gibbs and Todd Gilliland. Taking into account the multiple neutralizations at the end, the first 10 finished grouped in 5.3 seconds and 30 drivers out of 39 finished on the winner’s lap, i.e. all of those who still had a roadworthy car at the end. !
Having managed to avoid the majority of collisions, Jenson Button finished 18th while Jimmie Johnson retired on the second lap in a collision that also eliminated Ty Dillon. For the full ranking, Click here.