NASCAR Truck SeriesNASCAR Xfinity Series

Austin Cindric, Zane Smith lead Xfinity, Truck COTA practices

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Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

For the first time in its history, Circuit of the Americas is hosting official NASCAR action. With their races the next day, Friday saw the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series run practice laps for the first time in months. By the end of the sessions, Austin Cindric was the fastest of the Xfinity drivers while Zane Smith led the truckers.

Xfinity: Road course ace Cindric leads the way

It comes with little surprise that Cindric was the fastest Xfinity driver in practice. Prior to NASCAR, the reigning series champion and current points leader cut his teeth in road racing which included open-wheel and sports cars, while five of his twelve NASCAR national series victories have come on road courses. He set a fastest time of 137.778 seconds (slightly over 2 minutes, 17 seconds) at 89.1 mph.

“[COTA is] not very similar to any other natural terrain road course in the States, at least on a large scale. It’s funny because it’s called Circuit of the Americas, but it’s like the most European race track we have in the States, so I definitely feel like it has different character traits,” Cindric said in a post-session media conference. “Obviously, character traits are a lot more suited to high-speed, high-downforce vehicles in Formula One and IndyCar and so on, so I feel like in our cars, a lot of those corners slowed down are a lot different. It adds a new dynamic for us and I think you’re gonna see different things out of our races than you probably would have out of a Formula One race here, so I think that’s something that the locals that have come out to this racetrack should be excited about.

“But I wouldn’t say there’s really anywhere else in the country quite like it. I’d say there are places in Europe like it, but not over here.”

Daniel Hemric, who finished third at the Daytona Road Course in February, overcame a power steering issue to finish second quickest. Tyler Reddick led the Chevrolets and Cup Series drivers in Jordan Anderson Racing‘s first Xfinity track time since qualifying was rained out for the season opener on Daytona’s oval. Reddick will need to set a fast time in Saturday morning’s qualifying session in order for JAR to qualify for its maiden Xfinity race as the #31 has no owner points.

Among the one-off road course ringers, series newcomer and IMSA star Spencer Pumpelly was the fastest for JD Motorsports in thirteenth, three positions ahead of IMSA team-mate Andy Lally. Longtime ringer Boris Said was twenty-second in his return to NASCAR after last racing in 2017.

Ryan Sieg and Bayley Currey did not set times as the former suffered an engine failure while the latter’s transmission broke. The predicament also befell Kris Wright, but he was able to get two laps in before his engine expired.

Qualifying will take place on Saturday morning followed by the Pit Boss 250. As the first race with qualifying since the opener, thirty-six cars will make the grid and seven are going home.

PositionNumberDriverTeamManufacturerBest TimeBest Speed (mph)Laps
122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord137.77889.1008
218Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota137.84589.05711
331Tyler Reddick*Jordan Anderson RacingChevrolet137.96388.98010
454Kyle Busch*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota137.98988.96412
516A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet138.61088.5658
69Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet138.81388.43611
736Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet138.94088.3556
87Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet139.19188.1959
910Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet139.20388.1887
102Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet139.43288.04310
1198Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord139.61887.92610
1211Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet139.67187.8926
136Spencer PumpellyJD MotorsportsChevrolet139.81287.80410
1420Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota139.81287.8049
1517Cole Custer*SS-Green Light RacingFord139.88887.75611
1623Andy LallyOur MotorsportsChevrolet140.04987.6558
175Kevin Harvick*B.J. McLeod MotorsportsFord140.13987.59911
188Miguel PaludoJR MotorsportsChevrolet140.15887.58710
1944Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet140.24087.5365
2091Preston PardusDGM RacingChevrolet140.40287.43510
2126Kris Wright*Sam Hunt RacingToyota140.47287.3912
2213Boris SaidMBM MotorsportsToyota140.77687.2029
2348Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet140.95187.0948
2402Brett MoffittOur MotorsportsChevrolet141.38686.8267
2547Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet141.53086.7386
2668Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet141.59686.6978
271Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet141.65586.66110
2877Austin Dillon*Bassett RacingChevrolet141.66286.6573
2951Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet141.95486.47910
3019Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota141.95686.47810
3152Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet142.04986.4217
3278Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota142.42086.1965
3366Timmy Hill*MBM MotorsportsToyota143.01285.8398
344Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet143.31285.6597
3592Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet143.39285.6129
360Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet143.62885.47111
3761Stephen LeichtMBM MotorsportsToyota143.66585.4499
3899Ryan EllisB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota144.24185.10810
3915Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet145.02784.6469
4007Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet145.49784.37312
4190Caesar BacarellaDGM RacingChevrolet147.06183.4768
4239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFordNo TimeNo TimeN/A
4374Bayley Currey*Mike Harmon RacingChevroletNo TimeNo TimeN/A
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Truck: GMS tops Truck practices

Smith and his GMS Racing team-mate Sheldon Creed seem like two peas in a pod. After finishing 1–2 in the 2020 championship with Creed on top, the two led the Truck practice held before the Xfinity cars. The duo were the only drivers to set times below 138 seconds and speeds over 89 mph. While Smith does not boast much of a road course résumé, he and Creed—the latter having won the Daytona RC in 2020—also raced in the RC-savvy Stadium Super Trucks together last year.

Kaz Grala, who scored a top ten at Daytona the last time he was in a truck, was the fastest one-off driver in sixth. Of the RC ringers, Parker Chase was the quickest in eleventh. Paul Menard, hoping to run his first Truck race since 2007 and taking a break from his two-year retirement, was fifteenth.

Super late model racer Logan Bearden was twenty-first as the fastest of seven drivers who have never made a NASCAR national series start. Trans-Am Series driver Michele Abbate was thirty-sixth but boasted the second-best ten-lap run at 80.071 mph behind points leader John Hunter Nemechek‘s 81.487.

SCCA driver and Texas native Brad Gross, who is hoping to make his NASCAR début, spun in turn one and did not set a lap time while Roger Reuse‘s driveshaft broke during his run. Tate Fogleman and Gross’s CMI Motorsports team-mate Samuel Lecomte also brought out cautions for mechanical issues while on track.

Like the Xfinity Series, the Trucks’ Toyota Tundra 225 on Saturday will have thirty-six drivers, meaning seven will not make the field based on qualifying.

PositionNumberDriverTeamManufacturerBest TimeBest Speed (mph)Laps
121Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet137.39589.34812
22Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet137.73589.12811
39Grant EnfingerCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet138.47288.65312
499Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota138.76888.46410
538Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord139.49388.00411
602Kaz GralaYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet139.56387.96010
788Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota139.59987.93811
818Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota139.82987.79312
932Sam MayerBret Holmes RacingChevrolet139.89387.7539
104John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota139.89987.74915
1151Parker ChaseKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota139.93787.72513
1216Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota140.11287.61611
1311Camden MurphySpencer Davis MotorsportsToyota140.18387.57110
1442Carson Hocevar #Niece MotorsportsChevrolet140.28887.50610
1566Paul MenardThorSport RacingToyota140.39987.4376
1698Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota140.53887.35013
1775Parker KligermanHenderson MotorsportsChevrolet140.58387.32213
1822Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet140.77287.20511
1952Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota141.07287.01910
2026Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet141.24586.9139
2144Logan BeardenNiece MotorsportsChevrolet141.27986.89211
2256Timmy HillHill MotorsportsChevrolet141.34286.8536
2345Bayley CurreyNiece MotorsportsChevrolet141.41586.80810
2423Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet141.79786.57510
2515Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord141.84486.54610
2624Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet141.96886.47013
271Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord141.98486.4609
2849John AtwellCMI MotorsportsFord142.17686.34412
2913Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota142.34886.23913
3033Cameron LawrenceReaume Brothers RacingChevrolet142.49886.1499
3119Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota142.77585.9815
3234Lawless AlanReaume Brothers RacingToyota143.05985.81111
3325Timothy PetersRackley WARChevrolet143.28885.67412
3412Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet143.56085.51111
3541Dawson CramCram Racing EnterprisesChevrolet144.01085.24414
3630Michele AbbateOn Point MotorsportsToyota144.30285.07216
3720Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet144.66384.8598
3804Cory RoperRoper RacingFord144.85084.75010
3940Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet145.09584.6078
4072Samuel LecomteCMI MotorsportsChevrolet147.73683.0948
4110Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingChevrolet161.77375.8848
4283Brad GrossCMI MotorsportsChevrolet414.28029.6321
433Roger ReuseJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet589.63220.8201
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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