Editor’s note: This story initially ran March 2, 2021.
Visions of a five-wide dash past the start-finish line danced through Martin Truex Jr.’s head as he and two other NASCAR Cup Series champions got a glimpse of the Circuit of The Americas road course during Tuesday’s Goodyear tire test in Austin, Texas.
Truex, the 2017 Cup champ, was the Toyota driver responsible for testing around the 3.41-mile track that will be the site of the second of seven road-course races during the 2021 season, the May 23 EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix (2:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Chase Elliott, last year’s champ and part of the Chevrolet camp, and Brad Keselowski, the 2012 title winner and Ford representative, joined Truex for the test.
“I would say the start of this race would probably be pretty cool, because you got that long front straightaway and it’s very, very wide and (then) you go into a very, very sharp, slow corner, ” Truex said of his first impressions. “We have races at places like Pocono where we get five- or six-wide down the frontstretch and there’s potential for that to happen here.”
Truex admitted he had not had time on the simulator or on iRacing to get used to the track. So when he drove Tuesday in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota it was with a completely fresh perspective.
“My learning curve was really steep, I had no practice before, I had never seen this track before, had never watched a race here before,” Truex said. “I literally watched five minutes of in-car footage last night, I think it was of a Porsche going around this place, and I was like, ‘OK, it looks pretty straightforward.’ But then you get out here and you got the elevation changes and you got the blind corners. Those are the things that take time to learn because you have to go off instinct instead of what you’re seeing.”
Keselowski, meanwhile, talked about how the changes of speed he experienced in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford really stood out to him.
“It’s different than a lot of the road courses we go to, very high speed,” Keselowski said. “This section over here you’re 185 mph, which is pretty fast, and then you slow down to 30. So 185 to 30, that’s a heckuva ride. I know it would make my wife sick if she was riding with me.”
Tuesday’s test will help NASCAR officials and Goodyear determine the final tire combination for the weekend in May when all three NASCAR national series are in action.
— NASCAR at COTA (@NASCARatCOTA) March 2, 2021