● Event: EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix (Round 6 of 36) ● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 27 ● Location: Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas ● Layout: 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course ● Laps/Miles: 68 laps/231.88 miles ● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 15 laps / Stage 2: 15 laps / Final Stage: 38 laps ● TV/Radio: FOX / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, for the sixth stop on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The 27-year-old driver is fresh off a frustrating 15th-place result at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Briscoe started on the pole and led five of the first six laps of the race before getting hung out of the pack and falling toward the back of the field. The No. 14 team worked its way back into the top-five before Briscoe and Ford Performance teammate Ryan Blaney got loose while making a run for the lead and made contact with the outside wall on the final lap. ● With five races complete, Briscoe currently holds a spot in the 16-driver playoff field by virtue of his win two weekends ago at Phoenix Raceway. He has two top-five finishes and sits third in points, 15 behind leader Chase Elliott. ● In last year’s inaugural event at COTA, Briscoe earned his first Cup Series top-10, finishing sixth after starting 27th. He went on to earn two additional top-10s, both coming at road course events – sixth at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and ninth at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. When the Cup Series took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in August, Briscoe qualified second and led 12 laps, nearly earning his first Cup Series victory before going off track with two laps to go and incurring a penalty that ended his bid. ● In addition to his top-10 performances in the Cup Series, two of Briscoe’s biggest wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series came on road courses. His first win, earned on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval in 2018, has been credited as the win that saved his career. In 2020, when the Xfinity Series debuted its stock cars on the Indianapolis road course, Briscoe led a race-high 30 of 62 laps to capture a dominating win in front of his hometown crowd. ● This Sunday’s EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix serves as a home race for Mahindra Tractors, a brand of Houston-based Mahindra Ag North America. Part of Mahindra Group’s Automotive and Farm Sector, Mahindra Ag North America is the No. 1-selling farm tractor company in the world, based on volumes across all company brands. Mahindra farm equipment is engineered to be easy to operate by first-time tractor or side-by-side owners, and heavy duty to tackle the tough jobs of rural living, farming and ranching. Steel-framed Mahindra tractors and side-by-sides are ideal for customers who demand performance, reliability and comfort at a great value. Mahindra dealers are independent, family-owned businesses located throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How are things behind the scenes with your new sponsors? “It’s been really cool. I’ve been super fortunate my entire career. I’ve had really good relationships with all of the sponsors I’ve had and they are all incredible people. We’ve been able to build a lot of really cool things, but Mahindra Tractors is different in that it’s really the first time I’ve been aligned, with the exception of maybe one or two times, with an actual consumer brand. You look at HighPoint.com, for example, it’s not as much of a consumer play. It’s more of a B2B thing, whereas Mahindra is trying to sell tractors to fans and that’s something that I haven’t really had at the higher levels of NASCAR. It’s been cool to see the approach and what they’re trying to do to correlate that over to tractor sales, and it’s been a lot of fun. Anytime you can bring a new partner into the sport, it’s special, and to be able to do it in a way that we’ve been able to do it and make a big splash, it’s all because of them. They are obviously investing a lot, not only with the race team but with our broadcast partners and things like that. Not only are they seeing the success in all of this, but it’s also helping my brand to let people see my personality in these commercials and some of the other things we’re working on. We’re not done, yet. It’s just been a lot of fun for me to see how enthusiastic they are about this race team and it’s been a lot of fun.” What are your thoughts about COTA based on last year’s race? “From the racetrack standpoint, I feel like I’m kind of going there for the first time, just because last year I don’t think I ever ran a single lap in the dry. I think we practiced, qualified, everything in the wet, so it’s going to be like learning a whole new racetrack this week. I know from a facility standpoint it’s pretty remarkable. It’s super cool to go out there. Even last year in the rain, there were a ton of fans out there, so I’m excited to see what it looks like this year. I didn’t get to do a ton of exploring in the city last year, but I know Austin is a really cool town. I’m going to try to do a little bit more this year while we’re there, just because we’re there a little bit longer than usual. I’m super excited to get back. I’m really excited, truthfully, just to get this Next Gen car on a road course. Based on some of the testing we did on the (Charlotte) Roval, they’re a blast to run on the road course. I’m curious to see what the racing will be like. I think it will definitely change the landscape of these road-course races. I think you’re going to see a lot more guys that are competitive than in years past because you can drive this car so much harder. It does a lot of things a lot better than the old car, so it’ll be interesting to see how that works out and plays out. It looks like the weather is going to be really good and it should be a great show.” What can we expect this weekend on a dry track, in comparison? “I think it’ll definitely be different than what we saw last year. I mean, last year’s race will look way different than this year’s race with the weather. It was a different style of racing when it was that wet, but from a driver’s standpoint it’s a lot of fun, just the visibility is obviously tough. And then, from a fan’s standpoint, it’s tough to see what’s going on and a little more miserable than if it was a really nice day. I think this car on the road courses is where it’s really going to shine and, truthfully, on the oval stuff, it’s been a lot better than what people expected. I think the road course is probably going to blow it out of the park. It’s a really well-built racecar, especially for road-course racing. It’s going to be interesting to see with 40 of us out there going for it versus just a test session where only a couple of guys are on track, but I think COTA is a really good racetrack to unveil this thing on a road course and I’ve been really excited to get there, so I’m looking forward to it.” You’ve had a chance to work with Joey Hand in preparation for the road-course races on the schedule. How has he helped you with your road-course development? “It’s been huge. Joey is obviously an extremely good road-course racer. He has a little bit of a dirt background, so he can kind of relate to what I go through, but it’s been huge. Anytime you can have somebody come from a different discipline and different style driving cars and give input, it’s huge. We’ve seen that with other manufacturers kind of doing the same thing and, for me, I like criticism. I like people telling me what I’m doing wrong, and he literally just gave me a whole sheet of different things I could try. And I think the good thing about being at the simulator and having Joey there is just the fact that you can run laps, he can see it and come out and say, ‘Hey, try this, this and this,’ and you can apply it. You don’t have to wait until the weekend to try things. I know last year I was definitely able to find speed in places that he was telling me to try based on what we did in the simulator. Now we have to race against him. I’ve been telling him that I think he’s going to be really, really good this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see how those guys run. This thing, in a sense, is a lot like a sportscar, which is what he’s used to, so I’m excited to see him run this weekend and think he’ll be one of the guys to beat.”