NASCAR Notebook: Track Limits Infractions Factor in Tripleheader at COTA

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Track Limits Infractions Factor in NASCAR at COTASean Gardner - Getty Images

An out-of-bounds designation in the esses at the Circuit of The Americas road course proved costly for several drivers in all three NASCAR national touring series.

In Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix won by William Byron, only four penalties were assessed for short cutting the course, all in turn four. However, it was a different story in the Xfinity and Craftsman Truck series. Sixteen penalties were issued for the offense in Saturday’s Focused Health 250 Xfinity race and 20 in Friday’s XPEL 225 Craftsman Truck Series event. That’s 40 penalties for short cutting the course that were issued in a three-day period by NASCAR, which relied on software used in Formula One officiating.

Penalties ranged from a pass-through if the offense was committed under the green flag, to starting at the end of the longest line if it occurred under caution, to a 30-second penalty if the infraction took place on the final lap.


Perhaps the driver who suffered the greatest disappointment from the infraction was Shane Van Gisbergen who initially finished second to Kyle Larson in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. NASCAR deemed Van Gisbergen had cut the course short in the fourth turn on the final lap and the 30-second penalty dropped him to 27th.

Other drivers receiving 30-second penalties after their respective events were R.C. Enerson in Xfinity, and Matt Crafton and Matt Mills in the Truck Series. Enerson finished 28th, Crafton 23rd and Mills 24th.

Austin Cindric, who finished 19th in Sunday’s Cup race, said placing the limits in the esses made “complete sense.”

Tyler Reddick, who finished fifth in Sunday’s event, said the limits placed on the track in the esses didn’t change how one approached the track.

“We have to be really aggressive and push the limits,” Reddick says. “It’s just the nature of the course with having the curbs, and the paint and the grip that it has. We are all pretty quick to exploit it and maximize it to the rule book.”

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Ty Gibbs pulled off a third-place finish at COTA on Sunday.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Ty Gibbs Leads Cup Series with 5 Top-10s

There’s no sophomore jinx where Ty Gibbs is concerned.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year recorded his series leading fifth consecutive top-10 finish in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas with a third-place finish.

Gibbs pointed to sim racing with his friend Austin Green as contributing to his breakthrough on road courses. Green made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut Saturday with a seventh-place finish.

“We would always do those join sessions together and practice,” Gibbs said. “It could be dirt racing, asphalt racing, ovals or road courses. We were always really fast, and he was always just a little bit better than I was, so that is what helped me.

“Studying it and then having off-seasons to do something else, and not have to race all of the time. I think those are all things that … led to my success on road courses. It was the Xfinity Series, not the Cup Series, yet. We are still working on that.”

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Kyle Busch ended a three-race streak of finishes outside the top-10.Jonathan Bachman - Getty Images

Busch Gets First Top 10 Since Atlanta

Kyle Busch ended a dismal three-race stretch in Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix with a ninth-place finish.

It was the first time since the season’s second race at Atlanta that Busch, who expressed his displeasure to Christopher Bell after the 68-lap race for spinning him, had recorded a top 10. His best finish in the last three races had been 22nd.

Bell, who finished 0.692-second behind winner William Byron, admitted after being confronted by Busch that the Richard Childress Racing driver was “very upset.”

“KB is frustrated about what happened in turn one,” Bell said referencing when he spun Busch with about 30 laps remaining. “They were two-wide going in there and I haven’t seen a replay yet. I had no intentions of turning him and we will talk about it before the next race.”

Bell also apologized for spinning Kyle Larson on lap 21.

“I didn’t mean to do that,” Bell said. “The Kyle Larson deal – I completely take ownership of. I’m completely sorry about that and had no intention of that.

“The Kyle Busch incident was a little bit different because I wasn’t trying to make a move or pass him. He opened his entry up because he was too wide, and I was obviously under him when he came down. I had no intention of spinning him out at all.”

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Chris Buescher (17) was the only Ford driver in the Cup Series race to crack the top-10 at COTA.Sean Gardner - Getty Images

Buescher Carries Ford Banner

Chris Buescher, who had to go to the rear at the start of Sunday’s race due to unapproved adjustments on his Ford, prevented a top 10 lockout of the Blue Oval by Chevrolet and Toyota with an eighth-place finish.

Chevrolet secured five positions in the top 10 while Toyota had four.

“We had a freak deal happen with a parts failure in practice and qualifying,” Buescher said in explaining the adjustments his team needed to make to his Ford. “We knew we would be in a really tough spot all day and we knew we would need a handful of things to fall our way if we were going to compete for a win. I am proud of the top-10 finish.”

Buescher’s eighth-place finish Sunday was his third consecutive top 10 and his fourth in six races this season.