COTA: Revival of the Roadcourse Ringer

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Nick Brand

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Jordan, Jenson, Kimi, and Jimmie are all on the entry list for this weekend’s festivities at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. The 2023 version of the NASCAR Cup Series EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix has some big names, big personalities, and a plethora of talent through the twisty’s. 

Has Project 91, Garage 56, and other initiatives around the NextGen car rebirthed the roadcourse ringer? Let’s meet a few of them.

Jordan Taylor: Son, Driver, Coach

The Corvette Racing driver in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship is getting his first taste of NASCAR Cup Series racing this weekend, filling in for the injured Chase Elliott (a roadcourse ringer in his own right). Son and prodigy of his iconic sportscar racing father and team owner, Wayne Taylor, Jordan has been racing sports cars professionally since 2008 (Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona). 

Having a multitude of wins and championships under his belt and his most recent role of “coaching” some “other drivers” (insert sarcasm here) on this list with the Garage 56 Lemans program; Jordan should be a shoe-in for a good run come Sunday. Don’t worry Chase fans…I think he’s still “Sportscar 4 Lyfe.”

Jenson Button: Pupil of the Sport

The British racing driver and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion (15 career wins) is making his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series with Mobil 1 and the Rick Ware Racing team. Mr. Button is being coached by his predecessor (in this article at least), Jordan Taylor, in the Hendrick Motorsports/Team Chevy/NASCAR Garage 56 Lemans program for the upcoming centenary running of the 24 Hours of Lemans. Put me in coach!

In preparation for his two-trips around the clock at the Circuit de la Sarthe, he’ll be getting off of the bench, and putting in reps at the Circuit de la Americas. Not all will be foreign to Jenson though…his old F1 mate will be there right with him this weekend. 

Kimi Raikkonen: The Iceman Cometh

The Iceman (as he is commonly known amongst his peers) is essentially the “Matt Kenseth version” of Formula 1 to put it quite frankly. A man of few words yet incensed with a steely dry humor that even climate change alarmists are quite jealous of. YouTube clips of hilarious Kimi Raikkonen quotes and you’ll end up pulling up footage and soundbites for days. 

The actions back up the words as the 2007 Formula World Champion holds 21 Grand Prix wins, a foray away from single-seaters into the World Rally Championship, and a brief NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR Nationwide Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway before returning to F1 all over again. Project 91 at Watkins Glen in 2022 and a start this weekend…he might just know what he’s doing?

Jimmie Johnson: Bucket List Brawler

7-Time, The Champ, Vanilla Ice, or whatever it may be that you commonly refer to him as…Jimmie’s back and ready to brawl in his bucket list tour. After two seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series (which ironically was road racing only at first) and a ride-swap with Fernando Alonso in a McLaren Racing Formula 1 car at Bahrain International Circuit in 2018. Jimmie’s in for the ride and he’s cashing in on some left and right-turn experience in the NextGen car prior to making the trek across the pond to France in June.

This weekend will only add the handle to his proverbial pail of water but the laps earned in competition will be what he needs to fill it with water come Lemans in that Garage 56 car. Could be a very good indication as to how that program will run with two out of it’s three drivers running on Sunday. 

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Nick Brand

Nick Brand

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