Tyler Reddick’s road skills make 23XI Racing a winner in Texas

AP photo by Stephen Spillman / Tyler Reddick steers through the 15th turn at Circuit of the Americas during Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas — Tyler Reddick scored his first victory with his new team by holding on over multiple late restarts to win in triple overtime Sunday at Circuit of the Americas, the first road course race on this year's NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

Reddick's victory was the first of the year for Toyota and his first since joining 23XI Racing, the team co-owned by Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan. It was the fourth win of Reddick's Cup Series career, with all but one of those on a road course. Last year, Reddick won three times in his final season with Richard Childress Racing — twice in July (at Road America in Wisconsin and on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) and again in September on the oval at Texas Motor Speedway

This might have been the most nerve-wracking win of all for Reddick.

He had to hold the front position through the elevated, switchback, left-hand turn where the field bunched up and smashed into each other time after time on the restarts. The race had eight cautions for 17 laps and went to three overtimes, winding up seven laps past the scheduled distance.

"This whole 23XI team has been working so hard all winter long to make the road course program better," Reddick said. "Was extremely motivated to come in here and prove that performance, too."

Kyle Busch, who pushed Reddick through the final three restarts, finished second in an RCR Chevrolet that became available to the two-time Cup Series champion when Reddick jumped to 23XI.

"When we tested here, they were lights out," Busch said of 23XI. "Tyler obviously is a really good road racer. He proved it driving this car here last year. I was able to get in it and run right back to him. I've been trying to emulate the things he did in order to make this car fast last year, but not quite all the way there."

Alex Bowman, who had a chance to win on the final lap in Austin last season, was third in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevy.

Ross Chastain, the 2022 race winner, finished fourth and was confronted afterward inside his car by Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suárez over the aggressive nature of the race. Suárez also exchanged words with Bowman.

"He just thought I drove in and tried to drive through him," Bowman said. "Daniel and I, we've been teammates in the past, raced together a long time. I respect the hell out of him. I'm sure he's still not super happy. Just tried to explain that I wouldn't race him like that, that I was shoved in there."

William Byron finished fifth for Hendrick and was followed by Team Penske's Austin Cindric, the highest-finishing Ford driver.

There were no stage breaks for the first time this season under a rule change introduced for the six road course races in 2023. That left teams to manage different pit stop strategies.

Reddick appeared to have managed the perfect strategy before the rash of late collisions, caution flags and restarts left him with a harder path to win.

The race included former Formula One champions Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button. Raikkonen drove Trackhouse Racing's Project91 entry that is designed to give a seat in NASCAR to drivers from others disciplines. He finished 27th. Button drove the No. 15 Mobil 1 Ford for Rick Ware Racing as part of a three-race deal for road courses this season. He was 18th.

Raikkonen was running as high as fourth on a late late restart but quickly got shuffled into the pack.

Another road course ringer on the track Sunday was sports car driver and four-time IMSA champion Jordan Taylor behind the wheel of the Hendrick No. 9 Chevy for the injured Chase Elliott. Taylor struggled in the traffic of the early laps and finished 24th.

Trackhouse team owner Justin Marks expects Project91 to run several times this season. Project91 ran only once last season, at Watkins Glen International in New York with Raikkonen.

"It's resonating with people, so we've got some great sponsors on the car this weekend," Marks said. "We're going to definitely race this car multiple times this year. We're not ready to make any of those announcements yet, but people are taking notice."

After three years racing at the track built for F1 — it hosts the U.S. Grand Prix in the fall — signs point to a possible return for the stock cars in 2024. Speedway Motorsports, which runs the event and rents the track for a week, has an option to come back next season, and ticket holders are being allowed a chance to reserve spots for Austin.

"Of course I want to see NASCAR return," said Bobby Epstein, the track's president. "The fans want them at COTA, the drivers tell us they love the track and the city ... And it pairs the leading U.S. race series with America's premier road course."

The Cup Series heads to a short track next Sunday: Richmond Raceway in Virginia, where Hamlin is the reigning race winner.