A lot of firsts will take place this weekend as NASCAR debuts at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
The Xfinity Series will conclude a Saturday doubleheader with the Camping World Truck Series preceding the former.
After making a statement last weekend at Dover International Speedway, Austin Cindric will be the clear favorite for his fourth win of 2021 as four of his 11-career Xfinity wins have come on road courses. Cindric topped the speed charts in the lone practice Friday to further cement his status as the man to beat.
Daniel Hemric has been the man trying to keep pace with Cindric for the points lead as he sits 62 points behind in second. Hemric’s practice run was good enough for P2 as well, trailing the points leader. His road-course portfolio is quite impressive as he has a career-high finish of second at Mid-Ohio and four third-place finishes.
A handful of Cup Series veterans will join the Xfinity field to get experience for the main event on Sunday. They will all have to qualify on speed with only five teams locked into the field based on owner points.
Kevin Harvick will pilot the No. 5 Ford for B.J. McLeod Motorsports. The 2014 Cup Series champion was 17th in practice. Cole Custer will run the No. 17 Ford for SS Green Light Racing. Kyle Busch will make his first Xfinity Series start of 2021 as he pilots the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota and Austin Dillon will helm the No. 77 Chevrolet for Bassett Racing.
One of the biggest storylines of the Xfinity season has been Jordan Anderson and his Xfinity team not having the chance to participate in a race after the cancellation of qualifying to begin the season at Daytona. Due to having no owner points, it eliminated the possibility for them to make a 40-car lineup with 43 entries per week.
Over the next two weekends, the team will have qualifying to get the chance to lock themselves in and earn the owner points necessary to compete in races for the remainder of the season.
Tyler Reddick will pilot the team’s No. 31 Chevy. The car showed promise this weekend as it finished third on the charts.
Road-course ringers will be competing in the field, headlined by the return of Boris Said, who will attempt to make his first NASCAR start since 2017. After scoring a top-10 at the Daytona Road Course in February, Miguel Paludo returns to the No. 8 for JR Motorsports.
Andy Lally was involved in some incidents at Daytona in February, but in 2020, he scored two top-five finishes at Road America and Daytona, and will look to find that success Saturday.
Spencer Pumpelly will make his Xfinity Series debut with JD Motorsports with Gary Keller on Saturday. Pumpelly is a twenty-year veteran of professional sportscar racing, and holds multiple victories in IMSA, World Challenge, and Continental Challenge. He is a two-time class winner in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 2016 Continental Sportscar Challenge ST champion. Also noteworthy, Spencer has competed in the 24 Hours of LeMans four times.
The race will consist of 46 laps with stages ending on lap 14, lap 30 and the finish. Fox Sports 1 will carry TV coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. EST, while the Performance Racing Network will take care of radio coverage.
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/05/18/goodyear-fast-facts-cota/