By Cameron Richardson | NASCAR.com
Five races down in the 2023 Cup Series season and the first trek to a road course awaits this weekend. There are story lines aplenty to keep an eye on with exciting entrants and rule changes that will shake up strategies on Sunday at Circuit of The Americas.
To get ready for the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (Sun. 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), let’s look at some trends to watch, rule changes for Sunday, notable moments and the on-track schedule for the weekend in Austin, Texas.
Joining Mexico’s Daniel Suárez in Sunday’s event will be English driver Jenson Button and Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen.
Button will pilot the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford with support from Stewart-Haas Racing and Mobil 1. The 43-year-old is a 15-time winner in Formula 1 and claimed the 2009 championship. Räikkönen returns to Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 initiative after making his Cup Series debut last year at Watkins Glen where he crashed out in the final stage after running inside the top 20 for the majority of the race.
RULE CHANGES/GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES
For all Cup races on road courses this season, there will be no cautions at the end of stages. Instead, the race will remain under green while stage points are still rewarded to the top 10 at the conclusion of Stage 1 (Lap 15) and Stage 2 (Lap 30). It will be the first time the Cup Series has gone without stage cautions in a points-paying race since the onset of stages at the beginning of the 2017 season.
The GEICO Restart Zone will return to its 2022 dimensions after it was extended for the first five races of this season.
The choose rule will also be in effect for the first time at a road course this season.
Cup cars will run the same tire codes that were used on road courses all last season. One code is used on the left front and right rear and the other on the right front and left rear.
In the event of a lost wheel that is contained to pit road, the offending team will be subject to a pass-through penalty under green-flag conditions. If the infraction occurs during a caution period, the offending team will restart at the tail end of the field.
If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty, plus a two-race suspension for two crew members. Each penalty is series-specific: Violations in one series will not impact those crew members’ eligibility to participate in other series.
After the race at Phoenix, competition officials issued a safety violation for the loss or separation of an improperly installed tire/wheel from the vehicle (Sections 184.108.40.206 A&C) to the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford driven by Aric Almirola. Crew members Ryan Mulder (front tire changer) and Sean Cotten (jack) were suspended for two races.