It was a long evening at Circuit of the Americas after three overtime attempts, but Tyler Reddick was able to bring home the checkered flag. Overall, the race was really good until severable questionable debris cautions late in the going.
Tyler Reddick's Hot Streak Continues
Tyler Reddick now has three straight top-5s at three completely racetracks - A "normal" racetrack (Phoenix), a super speedway (Atlanta), and now a road course (COTA). Reddick was an animal on road courses last year, but I don't think any one expected him to win this weekend after Toyota's struggles on the road races in 2022. Reddick had to overcome three overtime restarts, and had every chance to throw the win away, but he was able to maintain the lead despite the chaos. The 2022 version of Reddick probably wouldn't have been able to keep his composure, however, we seem to see a new and mature version so far in 2023.
Great Race Turns Ugly Late
I think the on-track product on Sunday was better than any road course we've saw with the Next-Gen car so far. There were plenty of battles throughout the field, the tire falloff was fantastic, and there were great strategies. The melee all started when the caution came out with 5 to go because Austin Dillon left debris all over the track. You could definitely make a case that this was a legit caution, however, you can't say the same for the cautions that followed. All hell broke loose after a huge pileup on the first overtime, and the rest is history. Three grueling overtimes at a track where pace laps take 6-7 minutes to complete. This must have left a ssour taste in everyone's mouth after a great race, but as Guenther Steiner said, at leas the best driver and team won today.
No Stage Cautions Brings Strategy
I think the race was helped out greatly by the absence of stage cautions. I don't think many fans will be defending throwing the yellow at the end of stages after this race, considering how were treated to a bit of strategy for the first time in several years. Although there were so many cautions the strategy didn't really pan out, but that was the most intriguing storyline through the middle of the race and it was definitely refreshing to see.
William Byron is Fast Everywhere
William Byron looked like the second best car all day, who led well over 30 laps and looked like the only challenger to Reddick all day. This was Byron's third top-5 of the season, and the first other than his wins at Las Vegas or Phoenix. At the same time, Byron has finished outside the top-25 three times this season, so it looks like the No. 24 team might struggle with consistency again this year. However, this top-5 in a chaotic race will go a long way in building even more confidence in the team. Byron scored only 5 top-5s all season in 2022, so it looks like he'll at least break that mark this season.
Formula 1 and IMSA Stars Have Mixed Day
All of the superstars had their moments to shine, with Jenson Button finishing 18th at COTA, the best of the three champions. Jordan Taylor looked like he may be on his way to a top-10 finish on the final restart, but he was shuffled back to 24th. Kimi only managed 27th after restarting 4th before the overtime chaos. Overall, I think these three drivers had respectable days that showed how talented they were, but also how hard it is to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series.