Everything you need to know about Sunday’s twists and turns in Texas, the sixth regular-season NASCAR Cup Series race of the 2022 campaign.
Race day info 📝
Or: Austin, TX
Approximate start time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV/Radio: FOX Radio, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR
Grand Marshal: Michael Waltrip
Pace car driver: WWE Star The Undertaker
Forecast: Sunny, with a high near 86 degrees, according to NOAA.gov
Race distance: 68 rpm | 231.88 miles
Steps: 15 | 30 | 68
Pit road speed: 40 mph
Warning car speed: 50
COTA 101: Get the full detail | Weekend schedule
Starting line-up: how the drivers rank on Sunday
Pit Stops: Sunday Assignments | Expert pit analysis
Key things to watch out for 🔑
Practice and Qualification Notes: Ryan Blaney bounced back from an incident early in practice, edging his way to his second Busch Light Pole award of the season. While names like Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger have dominated the road courses lately, a mix of new faces at the top of the leaderboards have raised eyebrows and surely shuffled favorites for Sunday’s race. Trackhouse Racing continued to show off their early season strength with Daniel Suárez missing out on pole by just 0.026 seconds.
Cole Custer also made an early statement. His name topped the practice and qualifying leaderboards throughout the morning, and he emerged as a serious contender for Sunday. He will start third. We saw a lot of parity on the ovals to start the Next Gen era. And from an initial assessment, it seems that this will also translate into on-road courses. | Training, qualifications summary
Great story line: Chase Elliott didn’t have a bad start to the season, like some drivers with high expectations in pre-season. After his best finish of the season – sixth – at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Elliott took the lead from Joey Logano in the Cup Series points standings. Yet six races into the season and after each of his teammates have already reached Victory Lane in 2022, questions like, “When will it be No.9’s turn?” started to arrive. Circuit of The Americas, a 20-turn, elevation-changing gauntlet, couldn’t have come at a better time for the road-course ace. The #9 Hendrick Motorsports driver won this race a year ago and has finished first in six of the last 11 races with left and right turns. In these last 11 road races, he has only finished outside the top four twice. Even though he is winless so far this season, he has arguably been the most consistent driver at this point. And Elliott remains one of the main drivers to beat on Sunday in Texas. | BSD: Does Elliott need to win at COTA?
Who fired? Who is not ? : Is there a pilot on the planet as fit as Ross Chastain right now? He has finished in the top three in the last trio of races, including two runners-up. And while he has yet to cross the finish line first, his consistency makes him a threat to win every week. Although it doesn’t have the strongest history on the road courses, it finished fourth here last season. Chastain is a strong contender and is on course for the best season of his entire racing career. A driver leaning in the opposite direction is Austin Cindric. Cindric opened the season with an electrifying victory in the Daytona 500 but has been relatively quiet since. Four consecutive finishes of 12th or worse will leave you scratching your head a bit. But the talented, multi-faceted young rider is expected to find his form on a familiar road course where he placed fifth in the Xfinity Series race in 2021. | See where every driver ranks so far
Driving under the radar: One of the most impressive drivers this season has been Kurt Busch. The veteran is off to a very good start with his new and young team 23XI Racing. Busch leads the series with an average finish of 9.6 compared to his average start of 21.6. That means it does a lot of its work in the race even if he does not qualify well. The No. 45 team has yet to reach winning speed and they have led just eight rounds this season. But with back-to-back top fives and a strong start to another title-seeking campaign, Busch should have plenty of confidence heading into COTA. | Cup Series Ranking
Race day essentials ✅
Our biggest bits of the week – get covered for race day from every angle.
• Power ratings: Is Chase Elliott ready to complete Hendrick’s playoff offers? | Check out the rising engines
• Paint scheme preview: Awesome plans for Austin | Choose a favorite
• Fantastic Fast Lane: The outsiders weekend at COTA | Top sleepers to include
• NASCAR Bet: Cup Series odds for the Circuit of the Americas | Solid bets, long shots
Catch the pack 💨
Read headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
• Back to COTA: Kyle Busch wants to build on ‘decent speed’ so far in COTA comeback | See Busch’s take
• The legend itself: WWE Undertaker Set To Drive A Pace Car | Learn more
• Calm down: #78 Live Fast Motorsports team to serve penalty | Inspection report
• First repetitions: Blaney leads in qualifying, Busch leads in practice | Read the full recap
• Technical analysis: How New Next Gen Features Impact Flexibility on Road Courses | Expert advice
• To press in: RFK Racing penalized 100 points, fined $100,000 | The team will call | More details | Video distribution
• Spotlight on Women’s History Month: Terrin Waack | Learn more about the award-winning journalist
• Watch Wallace: Bubba Wallace to race Xfinity Series at COTA with JGR | Full story
• Start your engines: Waltrip named Grand Marshal for Sunday’s race | Read more
• Photos on the track: First look at NASCAR action at COTA, updated throughout the weekend | See the pictures
Get in on the action 💰
Think you know NASCAR? Test your mettle with play, fantasy.
• Play live: Complete NASCAR Fantasy Live 2022 Game Guide | Get the FAQ
• Place your picks: Ringers, Allmendinger and bad bets at COTA | Sunday tips
• Backseat Bets: Who wins the head-to-head matchups at COTA? | Hear what the experts have said
• PariMGM: Elliott and Allmendinger to headline this week’s clashes | Who is your choice?
• The Action Network: See which prop bet to jump on | Find out here
• Weekly accessories: Boris Said or the regular ringers? | Make your choices
• Go until the end : NASCAR betting: 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
Another chance at COTA 🤠
Sunday marks the second NASCAR race at this Texas track. Back to some important details.
• Longer: Step by step analysis | Learn more about the 20 bends
• Youth movement: Drivers under 30 dominate road journeys | See the last 11 winners
• Not one, not two: NASCAR’s All-Time Road Course Winners | Who has the most?
• The way of memory: Some of our last favorite moments on the road courses | Which do you remember?
• Inaugural race: Chase Elliott once again flexed his muscles on the road | Full 2021 Race Recap
Fast facts ⏩
Hard-hitting, race-relevant stats from the experts at Racing Insights.
• Chevrolet has won 10 of the last 11 road races and only one has been won by a driver over 30 (AJ Allmendinger).
• The last stretch of the green flag was 10 laps or less in eight of the last 10 road races.
• COTA is the first of six road races on the 2022 Cup Series calendar. Last season’s race here was the inaugural NASCAR event at the track.
• Ross Chastain is the first Cup Series winless driver to finish in the top three in three consecutive races since Alex Bowman in 2019.
• COTA is the fourth different track where the Cup Series has competed in the state of Texas: Texas World Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Meyer Speedway in Houston.
Say what? 🎙
Notable quotes from sports stars ahead of Sunday’s race.
• “We are delighted to return to COTA. We didn’t race well at all there last year, so I feel like we want to show that we are better than we were racing even before the crash knocked us out of the race. There’s no rain forecast this weekend so we should be able to put on a much better show than what we had there last season with all the rain and visibility issues. I can not wait to be there. I think it should be a fun race. — Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
• “I think it gives me a lot of confidence, especially as we’re talking about the Next Gen car as an equalizer and then COTA as well. Everybody’s only been there once and I didn’t have realized talking to my teammate Michael McDowell that they had only done one lap in the dry all weekend, which was for qualifying I believe. We were able to practice in the dry the day before and I even feel like I’ve done more laps in the dry than anyone there so I’m really looking forward to it It’s a great race track I love road racing in general It’s a lot of fun It seems like you’re always busy inside the car so overall I’d say I have a lot of confidence going to COTA and I’m just super excited about this subject in general. No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford driver Todd Gilliland on the confidence of his COTA victory last year in the Truck Series.