The NASCAR schedule is 13 races deep, and the drivers are preparing for a fascinating stretch of races. The Cup Series will head to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin and Nashville Superspeedway among other tracks, providing some unique twists to the schedule. Now Brad Keselowski is setting the stage for some fascinating races.
The Team Penske driver sat down with Heavy recently for a one-on-one chat about the upcoming schedule. He reflected on his history at Nashville and detailed his test laps at the Austin track. He also provided some insight into how the first-ever trip to COTA could create a wild race.
“Nashville is a fun track in my heart,” Keselowski told Heavy. “You know, [I] won my first-ever NASCAR race there. Love the city, the town, and early memories of going to the first race there for the NASCAR truck series.” The Ally 400 in June will mark Keselowski’s first time taking a Cup Series car onto the concrete track, a detail that adds some intrigue to his upcoming trip.
“So taking the Cup cars there should be a really good challenge,” he added. “I’m curious how they run on the concrete, curious how the tires will hold up. I’ve got a lot of questions. And ultimately, they’ll be answered in due time. But it is nice to get back in that market for sure.”
COTA poses a new challenge for Keselowski and his fellow drivers
The second major change to the Cup Series schedule is that the drivers will make their first-ever trip to Circuit of the Americas in Austin on May 23. The Texas track has hosted several high-profile racing events, including the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, American LeMans Series, and the Formula One United States Grand Prix. Now the Cup Series will test out the track while dealing with some unique sections.
“I mean, [it’s] very wide. So any of the high braking zones I expect significant, wild crazy moves, whether it be Turn 1 or the backstretch,” Keselowski explained. “You’ll see cars really fan out, which should be pretty interesting to watch. You know, you’ve got rhythm sections.
“It’s got all kinds of sections in it, it’s got your wide passing zone, it’s got your long straightaway. It’s got your very heavy braking zone. It’s got a carousel and a switchback. It’s really kind of got everything but a banked corner. So I think it’s an interesting track.”
Of the Cup Series drivers, only Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch have extended time at COTA. These laps won’t necessarily provide a massive advantage considering that they drove without 39 other cars on the track. Though Keselowski noted that “there is no downside” to getting those test laps due to the nuances that each driver has to learn.
Multiple drivers have tested out the Goodyear tires at Nashville
While the Cup Series drivers have been traveling across the country for each race, a select few have made the trip to Tennessee. Busch, Christopher Bell, and Chase Briscoe all conducted multiple tire tests at Nashville Superspeedway in order to provide feedback to Goodyear.
The first test took place in March as the trio of drivers experimented with their Cup Series cars and the different compounds applied to the track. Busch is one of the few drivers that previously competed at Nashville while driving in the Truck or Xfinity Series, so he has logged considerable laps at the venue.
“It’s great to rekindle an old friendship,” Busch said after the March test, per Motorsport Week. “I haven’t been out here in many years, and it hasn’t changed a bit. The concrete is very consistent, and I think the track is going to be fun to race on with all the other cars out there and — more importantly — it’s something new and refreshing.”
The drivers will continue to anticipate the trips to Nashville and Austin. However, they will first have to compete for wins at multiple other races. The next event on the schedule is the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway, which will cap off Throwback Weekend.