Austin Cindric Quickest In NASCAR XFINITY Practice At COTA; Zane Smith Leads Truck Practice

Story By: CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS – AUSTIN, TX – Austin Cindric, the Xfinity Series points leader, and Zane Smith, last season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie of the year, were the fastest drivers in their respective series Friday during the opening day of NASCAR racing at Circuit of The Americas.

Cindric, the defending NASCAR Xfinity series champion, drove his Team Penske No. 22 Ford to an average speed of 89.100 mph while Smith covered the 3.41-mile, 20-turn COTA layout in 89.348 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet to pace the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Teams in both series were able to hit the track for 50 minutes each in their only scheduled practice session of the weekend for Saturday’s races, the Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 and Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 225.

Cindric finished second in the only other Xfinity Series road course event of the season, at Daytona in February. He has posted three victories in the season’s first 10 races. He said the COTA course reminds of a European-style F1 road course.

“We have a lot to go over tonight, a short amount of data,” Cindric told FS1 after the session. “I did a lot of outs and ins. We made a lot of changes. Tires fall off a lot, so I wasn’t happy with any of them. I’ll try to go through the data and come up with the best game plan for tomorrow.”

Daniel Hemric was second fastest in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with a speed of 89.057 mph and was followed by Tyler Reddick, who is driving the No. 31 Chevy and posted a speed of 88.980 mph. Reddick was fastest among the five Cup drivers entered in the Pit Boss 250. Xfinity road course ace A.J. Allmendinger, who is driving the flagship Pit Boss Grills Chevy, was fifth with a speed of 88.565 mph.

Smith, last year’s most popular driver in the Camping World Truck Series, led practice and was followed by defending series champ Sheldon Creed, who posted a speed of 89.128 mph in his No. 2 Chevy. He was followed by veteran driver Grant Enfinger, who was third with a lap of 88.653 mph in his No. 9 Chevy. The tour’s most recent road course winner, Ben Rhodes, was fourth overall in the No. 99 Toyota with a speed of 88.464 mph.

Following the practice session, Smith feels good about his chances for Saturday’s Toyota Tundra 225.

“In a situation like this you’re never going to have enough practice,” Smith said. “I feel like we had a pretty smooth practice, we had the adjustments that we wanted to try. Some worked, some didn’t, but luckily we had a pretty clean track for most of the session. We unloaded with a fast truck and it really says a lot about the whole 21 team and GMS racing in general.”

Smith says he is ready for what he expects to be a thrilling race in Saturday’s Toyota Tundra 225.

“In a situation like this you’re never going to have enough practice,” Smith said. “I feel like we had a pretty smooth practice, we had the adjustments that we wanted to try. Some worked, some didn’t, but luckily we had a pretty clean track for most of the session. We unloaded with a fast truck and it really says a lot about the whole 21 team and GMS racing in general.”

Parker Chase, an IMSA regular who is driving the No. 51 truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports, was fastest among the road racing specialists in the Truck race at 11th overall with a lap of 87.725 mph in his Toyota Tundra.

Should rain fall on COTA this weekend, all races will go on as scheduled as Goodyear will provide wet weather tires to the teams if necessary. NASCAR’s road course rain rule does not allow competition during thunderstorms with lighting in the area or during really heavy downpours.

Prestige Performance was quickest in the IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series’ first practice session with a lap time of 2:09.005. O’Gara Motorsports led the second practice session with the best time of the day at 2:08.731. IMSA teams will have two qualifying sessions Saturday morning and the first of two 50-minute timed races for the weekend will be tomorrow evening at 6:50 p.m. CT The final IMSA race is scheduled to start at noon on Sunday.

NASCAR race weekend action continues Saturday with qualifying for both Xfinity and Truck teams to set the starting lineups for their races later that day. The Toyota Tundra 225 Camping World Truck Series race starts at noon CT (FS1, MRN Radio) and will be followed by the Pit Boss 250, which takes the green flag at 3 p.m. (FS1, PRN Radio). On Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series teams will have two sessions of group qualifying starting at 10 a.m. to set the field for the EchoPark Automotive Texas Grand Prix, which takes the green flag at 1:30 p.m. (FS1, PRN Radio).

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