Reddick fastest early at Circuit of The Americas

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 24: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 24, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick led Friday’s opening practice session for Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas – the NASCAR Cup Series’ first road course race of the season.

Reddick, in his first year driving the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota, was the winningest road course driver in 2022 – the only competitor to score multiple road course wins (at Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course). He was .371-second faster on the 3.41-mile 20-turn COTA course Friday than Kyle Larson in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and defending race winner Ross Chastain in the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet.

Kyle Busch was fourth quickest in the 50-minute session followed by Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez. Qualifying is set for Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on FS1.

Four-time IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car champion Jordan Taylor – subbing for the injured Chase Elliott – was easily fastest among the non-NASCAR regulars competing at COTA this weekend posting the 10th quickest time in the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Former Formula One champion Jenson Button was 28th fastest in practice, followed by fellow F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen (32nd). Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who is making his second start of the 2022 season was 36th fastest and IndyCar driver Connor Daly was slowest among the 39 cars.

“Our car was really, really strong,” Reddick said. “We came here and had the tire test in January and knew we had some promise from where our car was, but we definitely wanted to be better. So, everyone was just really inspired and worked really hard on our Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD to make some gains.

“I kind of got under the weather at a really bad time last week and it made it difficult to work on the car and do some of the things we wanted to do. The guys kept working on it and yesterday, finally got to get in simulator and see the speed we had. It was really great to see the speed this car has.

“Just a great group effort by everybody putting our minds together and it really showed. … Great to know our car had that much pace potential in it.”