Reddick overcomes overtime chaos to top off dominating day at COTA

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 26: Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas on March 26, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Tyler Reddick would not be denied. Reddick triumphed after three overtime restarts, emerging with the lead each time and held on to win a long, drawn-out NASCAR Cup race at the Circuit of the Americas Sunday.

The 23XI Racing driver survived one extra pit stop than the rest of the leaders, a hard charging William Byron, and the chaos that was Turn 1 at COTA that saw the field sometimes 8 cars wide to score his first win since Kansas last September.

“It means the world,” an exhausted Reddick said. “This whole 23XI team has been working so hard all winter long to make the road course program better. Was extremely motivated to come in here and prove that performance, too.”

Reddick was the class of the field much of the day leading a race high 41 laps, the first on lap 7. He then pitted on lap 12, ceding the top spot to polesitter Byron who held on to win Stage 1, which in the first race without Stage cautions in 7 years ironically ended under caution for debris on the track, as Reddick came back out in 16th.

With clearly the fastest car in the field, he was back inside the top 10 and was back in the lead when Byron pitted on lap 24.

Reddick would win Stage 2 and from that point would set sail. He had an 18 second lead when he pitted under green again on lap 32 and came out in fourth. Byron cycled back to the lead on lap 33 but Reddick was second on lap 36 and got past Byron for the top spot on lap 39. The race’s third caution on lap 42 for debris sent the leaders to pit road with Reddick winning the race out followed by Byron.

The two would swap the lead from there with Reddick finally taking a clear lead on lap 47, and Byron second. It appeared that it would come down to fuel mileage and all the top runners were told to save fuel.

That strategy ended however when the race’s fourth caution flew on lap 58 for a car stopped on track. The leaders pitted while three cars who had pitted off sequence stayed out led by Christopher Bell, and Kyle Busch.

The green came with 9 laps to go, and Reddick was able to shoot up the inside going up the hill into Turn 1 and came out with the lead. Another caution for debris came with 4 laps to go and set up the first attempt at an overtime finish.

In the first overtime, Reddick was able to clear the middle of a three wide battle and Busch slipped in to second. That overtime, however, was stopped when several cars got together deep in the field and left debris on the track.

Reddick was again able to keep the lead in the second overtime when Daniel Suarez lost a tire sending more debris on the track and forcing a third overtime. The third overtime mirrored the second with Reddick again out front. Behind him, Alex Bowman and Busch battled for second allowing Reddick to stretch his lead out, and keep it crossing the line 1.4 seconds ahead of Busch.

“I really had to dial it up there at the end to get an advantage,” Reddick said. “I was making mistakes on every single restart. I was able to make it a little better there in the end.”

Even Busch doubted he would have had anything for Reddick at the end.

“Even if we were on equal tires, when we tested here, they were lights out,” Busch said. “Had us beat on the frontside of the runs. We needed longer runs. Even today we didn’t have great long-run speed. We had great middle-run speed.

“Tyler obviously is a really good road racer. He proved it driving this car here last year. I was able to get in it and run right back to him. I’ve been trying to emulate the things he did in order to make this car fast last year, but not quite all the way there. “

Bowman was third, last year’s winner Ross Chastain was fourth with Byron coming home fifth.

“It feels good to get a top five, but we had a top-two race car really with the 45, he was really better than everybody, but I thought we were a close second,” said Byron, a two-race winner already in 2023, whose fifth-place finish at COTA was his career best on a road course. “We’ll keep building on it.”

Bowman was clearly at his physical limits after climbing from his car.

“It probably wouldn’t have been that bad if my interior stuff worked,” Bowman said. “When this cool shirt doesn’t work, it just heat soaks, kind of cooks you. I’m hot. It stopped working pretty early. I don’t have issues with stuff from Hendrick Motorsports very often.

“It was a hot day. Proud of the 45. A heck of a road course racer. Fastest car definitely won today. Wish our Ally Camaro was a couple spots better. All in all a good day for us.”

Several high-profile drivers had up and down days. Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson in his second race with the team he is now a co-owner with crashed out on the very first lap and got his second DNF in his second start of 2023.

Former F1 champion Jenson Button finished a quiet 18th. IMSA standout Jordan Taylor at one point ran inside the top five. He was 10th on the final overtime start but was knocked back and finished 24th subbing for Chase Elliott.  And another former F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line in 25th but was given a 30 second time penalty by NASCAR for shortcutting the esses on the final lap and was credited 29th the last car on the led lap.

In all 9 cars were scored with DNFs including Bell who crashed during the second overtime, and AJ Allmendinger who was in contention much of the closing stages but was swept up in a late crash.

Austin Cindric was the highest finishing Ford in sixth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Ty Gibbs and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top 10.

The NASCAR Cup series races next at Richmond Raceway next Sunday where Denny Hamlin is the defending winner.

Photos: NASCAR at COTA Sunday March 26, 2023

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix
Circuit of The Americas
Austin, Texas
Sunday, March 26, 2023

1. (2) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 75.
2. (9) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 75.
3. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 75.
4. (12) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 75.
5. (1) William Byron, Chevrolet, 75.
6. (3) Austin Cindric, Ford, 75.
7. (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 75.
8. (32) Chris Buescher, Ford, 75.
9. (17) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 75.
10. (36) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 75.
11. (27) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 75.
12. (20) Michael McDowell, Ford, 75.
13. (29) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 75.
14. (13) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 75.
15. (19) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 75.
16. (21) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 75.
17. (25) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 75.
18. (24) Jenson Button, Ford, 75.
19. (23) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 75.
20. (10) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 75.
21. (38) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 75.
22. (16) Harrison Burton, Ford, 75.
23. (8) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 75.
24. (4) Jordan Taylor, Chevrolet, 75.
25. (37) Cody Ware, Ford, 75.
26. (33) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 75.
27. (5) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 75.
28. (15) Joey Logano, Ford, 75.
29. (22) Kimi Raikkonen, Chevrolet, 75.
30. (39) Aric Almirola, Ford, 74.
31. (14) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 73.
32. (26) Ryan Preece, Ford, Accident, 68.
33. (28) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 62.
34. (7) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 60.
35. (30) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Driveshaft, 56.
36. (35) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, Transmission, 16.
37. (11) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Accident, 10.
38. (31) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, DVP, 0.
39. (34) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 0.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 72.886 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 30 Mins, 32 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.411 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 17 laps.
Lead Changes: 16 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: W. Byron 1-5;A. Cindric 6-7;T. Reddick 8-12;W. Byron 13-23;T. Reddick 24-31;C. Buescher 32;W. Byron 33-38;T. Reddick 39-41;W. Byron 42;J. Logano 43;W. Byron 44-46;T. Reddick 47-57;D. Suarez 58;C. Bell 59;T. Reddick 60-61;W. Byron 62-63;T. Reddick 64-75.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Tyler Reddick 6 times for 41 laps; William Byron 6 times for 28 laps; Austin Cindric 1 time for 2 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 1 lap; Joey Logano 1 time for 1 lap; Chris Buescher 1 time for 1 lap; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,2,16,48,1,99,8,9,20,41

Stage #2 Top Ten: 45,3,34,4,17,47,5,43,14,42

Greg Engle