AUSTIN, Texas – Alex Bowman and William Byron scored top-five finishes in the first road course of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). 

Bowman mounted a charge in the third and final overtime attempt before finishing an organization-best third in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for his second straight top-three result at the 3.41-mile road course. He has also finished in the top eight in all three races held at COTA. Through six races this season, the 29-year-old has a career-best three top-five finishes and five top-10s.

"Shout out to all the team back at the shop," Bowman said. "I'm not the greatest road course racer, so to come here and run top five again means a lot. ... All in all, a good day for us."

Byron picked up his fourth stage win of the season and led 28 laps on the day. The pole sitter in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 ended up with a fifth-place finish for his third top-five of the season. The result on the 20-turn Austin, Texas, road course is his best on a serpentine track in the Cup Series. 

"I probably could have done better on those restarts," Byron said. I just kept getting pushed wide.

"Good to get a top five. We had a good race car. A top-two race car with the 45 (race winner Tyler Reddick). He was a lot better than everybody, but I thought we were a close second. Good day for the Liberty University Chevrolet and we’ll keep building on it."

"It was really fun. Tyler is great and they were great all weekend. Tyler’s been great on the road courses. We made it a battle for sure every time with crossovers, out-braking each other… that was a lot of fun. I hate that it kind of got down to restarts there at the end. I got shoved off one time in second. We needed a top-five and probably could have done some things different. But overall a good day for the Liberty University Chevrolet. We had good speed but Tyler was so fast all weekend. I felt like when I got the lead that I was slipping and sliding. That was fun.”

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Kyle Larson had an eventful day but was able to gain 17 spots on the final overtime attempt. He finished 14th in the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 30-year-old was the runner-up in this race in 2021. 

Making his first start in the Cup Series, Jordan Taylor finished 24th in the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. An accomplished road racer, Taylor was filling in for the sidelined Chase Elliott at COTA. The 2020 Cup Series champion continues to recover from successful surgery on his fractured tibia suffered in a snowboarding accident earlier this month. 

"The guys knew I’d be a little bit more hesitant, so they would take advantage of it," Taylor said reflecting on his first start after the race. "At the end, I got more aggressive and made our way almost back to the top 10. 

"...We had good pace, but we just got shuffled back every restart. Tough day."

Reddick won the race to become the fifth different winner in 2023. Byron is the only driver with multiple wins this season in the Cup Series. 

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For this race (and all road course races), there were no stage break cautions. Stage points will still were still awarded at the designated laps (after lap 15 and lap 30), but the caution flag was not deployed at the end of each stage. This is the first time since the advent of stage racing in 2017 that a Cup Series points-paying race did not feature scheduled yellow flags. 

Following penalties assessed coming out of the Phoenix Raceway weekend, the organization had interim crew chiefs for the second straight weekend. Kevin Meendering (No. 5), Tom Gray (No. 9), Brian Campe (No. 24) and Greg Ives (No. 48) filled in atop the pit box.

The Cup Series will be back in action next weekend at Richmond Raceway for the seventh race of the 2023 season. Catch the race at 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). 

Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: Third

Race notes: Bowman started sixth and was quickly into the top five. He radioed into the team that the car felt a tick better than it had all weekend in the first stage. The 29-year-old maintained a spot in the top six for much of the opening stage and stayed out to score stage points. He finished stage one in fourth. 

In the opening lap of stage two, Bowman fell back to sixth but worked around Ross Chastain to get back into the five. Interim crew chief Greg Ives brought his driver down for service on lap 23. Bowman received four tires and fuel before rejoining the race in 21st as a wide variety of stages were at play in the opening two stages. Ives told Bowman he was running top-five lap times late in the stage before his 17th-place finish in stage two. 

Two laps into the final stage, the Tucson, Arizona, native re-entered the top 10 and continued his march forward – getting to sixth on lap 38. He pitted under yellow from that spot on lap 42 and restarted 10th on lap 44 (as three cars stayed out). An aggressive restart saw Bowman move to fourth and he was cautioned to not use his stuff up. He continued to run top five as a caution came out on lap 58. With most – including his team – short on fuel, Bowman pitted for four tires and fuel. He came off pit road fourth, but five drivers stayed out, so he restarted ninth on lap 60. A rash of cautions coming to the finish saw Bowman keep a spot in the top seven. On the second overtime attempt, the driver of the No. 48 Ally Racing Chevrolet was super aggressive and moved up to third after passing teammate William Byron. His fresher tires were catching Kyle Busch for second before the caution came out again. Bowman restarted on the front row in the outside line next to Tyler Reddick on the third overtime attempt. The two made slight contact at the start of the restart but Bowman couldn’t reel in Reddick. Ultimately, Bowman finished third for his second straight top-three finish at COTA and his third top-eight finish at the 20-turn road course. 

William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: Fifth

Race notes: Byron started from the pole position and saw early pressure from Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric for the lead. He fell back to third on lap 6, and was told by the team to “manage your stuff. You’re better than those guys in the stadium.” Byron passed Cindric for second and radioed in that it was “kind of hard to complain” about the car. He stayed out when the lap 13 caution flew, which allowed him to inherit the lead from Reddick and grab his fourth stage win of the season. 

As stage two began, Byron maintained his lead over Cindric. The race continued green and interim crew chief Brian Campe called his driver down pit road on lap 24 for four tires and fuel. The team on a different strategy than Reddick. Byron rejoined the race in 15th and went on to finish the stage in 12th. 

With a host of drivers on the three-stop plan pitting, Byron moved up to fifth early in the final stage and retook the lead on lap 33. He lost the lead to a hard-charging Reddick on lap 39 and maintained second. Pitting under yellow on lap 42, the driver of the No. 24 received four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment on his car. He was told to save fuel where he could as he got set to restart fifth on lap 44. On the restart, he got around Joey Logano (who stayed out) and Reddick (who went wide off of turn one) for the lead. Byron and Reddick battled back-and-forth for the lead with some good, hard racing before Reddick took the point on lap 47. Fuel savings became the name of the game in the final stage and Byron was told he needed to save “a tick more” to make it on lap 52. A slip up on some dirt on track saw Byron lose two spots in the running order to fall back to fourth. Pitting under yellow on lap 58 for four tires and fuel, he left pit road second but restarted seventh after five drivers stayed out. He moved up to third on lap 60 before a yellow came out one lap later. Byron took the lead on lap 62 when Reddick once again went too wide into turn one, but he lost the lead two laps later. He was scored second at the time of the lap 66 caution and stayed out to restart on the outside next to Reddick. Byron went wide off of turn one and lost second to Kyle Busch. On the second overtime attempt, Byron was aggressive from the third position but couldn’t quite get to the outside of Reddick. He ended battling teammate Alex Bowman for third before another caution came out. Restarting fourth in the final overtime, Byron lost one spot in the final two laps to finish fifth. 

Kyle Larson, No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 14th

Race notes: Larson started 13th and was quickly into the top 10 just one lap into the race. While running in the top 10, contact from Bubba Wallace in turn 12 saw Larson spin. Minutes later, he spun again with Denny Hamlin made contact with the No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson fell back to 29th and was stopped on track, so the caution came out. He pitted under yellow for four tires, fuel and to assess the damage to his car. The team told Larson the car was fine and he finished the stage in 35th. 

In stage two, Larson picked up 12 spots in the first four laps. While battling Ryan Blaney for position, the two made contact before Larson rejoined the top 20 on lap 20. By lap 23, with green flag stops unfolding for those on a different strategy, Larson was up into the top 10. While running fifth, he spun in turn nine and then had Erik Jones all over him for seventh with one to go in the stage. Larson was able to finish seventh in the stage to score four stage points. 

One lap into the final stage, Larson pitted from seventh, but was caught speeding entering the pits. This resulted in a pass-thru penalty that left him in 30th. The 2021 Cup Series champion was scored in 24th on lap 42 when the caution was out. After pitting for service and restarting 21st on lap 44, Larson made big moves early in the run to get back into the top 15. However, a broken toe link on lap 49 led to him being slow on track and extensive repairs on pit road. He came out of the pits two laps down and in 35th. The attrition of the race, though, helped Larson gain a few spots and eventually with numerous cautions late, get back on the lead lap for the third and final overtime attempt. After interim crew chief Kevin Meendering had his driver pit for tires and fuel, Larson restarted 31st and drove up to 14th in the final two laps. 

Jordan Taylor, No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Where he finished: 24th

Race notes: Starting fourth in his Cup Series debut, Taylor lost a few spots in the opening laps as he was focused on keeping the car clean and getting a feel for those racing around him. A lock up with the left front tire saw him make contact with Erik Jones and fall out of the top 10. By the lap 13 caution, though, Taylor had found a rhythm and was back into the top 10 in ninth. The road racing standout said he “felt pretty strong once I got settled in.” He finished the stage in eighth. 

Taylor lost a few spots early in stage two but rejoined the top 10 on lap 20. Interim crew chief Tom Gray had his driver make his first live pit stop on lap 22, stopping for four tires and fuel. Taylor rejoined the race in 32nd and focused the rest of the stage on saving tires and fuel. He finished the stage in 24th. 

As differing strategies unfolded in the opening laps of the final stage, Taylor rejoined the top 20 and was up to 15th on lap 40. Spotter Eddie D’Hondt told his driver that he was better than the two cars ahead of him but warned that several behind him had fresh rubber. Under yellow on lap 42, Taylor pitted for four tires and fuel. After restarting 16th on lap 44, he lost ground on the restart and fell back to 23rd. He was told he was short on fuel – about a half lap – with 12 to go, but the caution fell on lap 58 with Taylor in 17th. The team pitted for four tires and fuel to restart 22nd on lap 61. On the following restart on lap 68, Taylor navigated the inside path to avoid the chaos off the restart and got to 16th. He was able to gain five more spots off the next restart to be scored in 11th ahead of the third overtime attempt. On the final overtime attempt on lap 74, Taylor got trapped in turn one and lost ground that he was unable to make up over the remainder of the two laps. He finished 24th on the day.