AUSTIN, Texas - Stock cars, not sleek F1 vehicles, thundered through the Circuit of the Americas Tuesday. NASCAR champions Chase Elliott , Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex ran the course for the first time with their pit crews. The up hill - hair pin - turn one according to Truex provided the first of many learning curves.
"It takes over two minutes to get around here so if you make a mistake you got a wait two minutes to correct it and you can’t forget it when you come back around it was interesting to do that and a lot of fun to do that," said Martin Truex Jr. with the No.19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Unlike typical oval NASCAR tracks speeds at COTA can go from 184 miles an hour to 30 in a blink of an eye.
"All those tracks, I always joke, like it’s like playing a different position on a football field, it’s the same game, but the way you play it is much different, and you have to be good at all of them to win the championship," said Brad Keselowski with the No.2 Team Penske Ford.
The drivers are in Austin to help Goodyear test tires. It’s in preparation for NASCAR's EchoPark Automotive Lone Star Grand Prix in late May. The plan, for the road race, is to allow Fans in the stands, but how many will be determined by COVID-19 restrictions.
"I look forward to getting back to just normal again it is still weird the vibe at the race track isn’t what it was before all this so I look forward to the day where it is again," said Chase Elliot with the No.9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
COTA is being leased for the race by Speedway Motorsports.
The company has operated NASCAR events in the metroplex at the Texas Motor Speedway as well as 7 other sites like Charlotte and Bristol. NASCAR only has a one year deal with COTA to bring a race to Austin.
The hope is that the event in May will not be a, one and done.
"When you look at it, people are talking about Austin constantly, if you watched the broadcast on Fox last weekend, and even the weekend before in Daytona, it’s really what the industry is excited about, it’s this and the Bristol dirt race that everybody continues to talk about, so the industry is behind us, the city of Austin is behind us, and we could not be more excited to be coming down here and bringing the party to Austin," said Bryan Hammond with Speedway motorsports
The Austin race is one of seven road course events that NASCAR has scheduled for this year.
The race at COTA along with the one at the Texas Motor Speedway, official say will make 2021 the biggest year ever for NASCAR in the Lone Star State.