The top three series in NASCAR compete at the Circuit of the Americas, starting on Friday, May 21. This road course is entirely new to the drivers, creating concerns about what will happen. Multiple drivers, including Austin Dillon, have expressed the opinion that there will be some “chaos.”
The Richard Childress Racing driver met with media members on Wednesday to preview the upcoming trips to COTA. He responded to comments by fellow driver AJ Allmendinger, who also predicted chaos in the first turn of the Xfinity Series race. As Dillon explained, the corner design presents a unique challenge for the drivers.
“Turn 1 is a tough corner for any type of car to race on,” Dillon said during a press conference that Heavy attended. “It’s difficult because it kind of falls away from you. You’re going uphill and it flattens out. Just a lot of stuff going on there, and it gets tight quick.
“Definitely going to be some chaos. If you miss Turn 1 at the bottom, that outside lane is probably really going to check up.” Dillon continued and compared the challenges of COTA to the Daytona Road Course. There are considerable differences between the two tracks in terms of banking, but Dillon explained that both tracks require a certain amount of speed going into the corners.
The Richard Childress Racing Driver Has Struggled at Road Courses
While COTA will present a challenge for the NASCAR drivers, it will also serve as the site of potential redemption for Dillon. The RCR driver has struggled at road courses during his career, posting career-best finishes of 19th at the Charlotte Roval, 16th at Sonoma, 34th at the Daytona Road Course, and 16th at Watkins Glen.
The Cup Series schedule features another six road course races, leading into the championship race at Phoenix. There are trips to Road America in Wisconsin, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, the Charlotte Roval, Watkins Glen, Sonoma Raceway, and COTA. Dillon will have to make positive strides at one of these courses in order to increase his chances of reaching the playoffs. He will also have to do so while dealing with potential rain.
“It’s definitely challenging knowing that we’re going to some places for the first time,” Dillon said. “I know there’s rain scheduled. It looks like there could be rain this weekend at COTA. I’ve never really done that. We will take it and do the best we can.
“We’ve been solid all year long. Daytona was a positive for me as a road course racer. I got stage points in both stages and we were on our way to running a top-10 finish. We’ve just gotta go out there and attack and be aggressive and try to take the things that I’ve learned in the offseason and use them to my advantage and try to get better each and every road course we go to.”
Dillon Will Strive To Improve During the Return of Practice Laps
The NASCAR drivers will have some opportunities to test out COTA for the first time prior to their respective races. The trip to Austin marks the first time since February that teams will have the opportunity to participate in practice sessions and qualifying. They will only have 50 minutes to get in some practice laps and make adjustments.
This time frame is shorter than in past seasons, so Dillon and the No. 3 team will have to maximize their limited opportunities. Though Dillon explained that finding the proper ride height for the RCR Chevrolet Camaro could take up most of the time.
“We’ve got to execute during practice and try to gain as much time on the track as we can,” Dillon said during his media availability. “Get in a bunch of laps, obviously, and you can try to make some adjustments if you have some things that you haven’t gone out and done just because of the unknown to try to get through those.”
The NASCAR Cup Series drivers will have the opportunity to practice at COTA on Saturday, May 22. They will spend roughly 50 minutes on the track before returning on May 23 for their qualifying sessions and the subsequent race.