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Jordan Taylor Impresses at COTA in Cup Series Debut

#9: Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro
  • On Sunday, road racing standout Jordan Taylor made his NASCAR Cup Series debut filling in for the injured Chase Elliott at Circuit of The Americas.
  • The 31-year-old driver was impressive throughout the weekend. After finishing Friday’s practice session 10th-fastest, he followed that up with a fourth-place qualifying effort on Saturday. 
  • During Sunday’s race, Taylor adjusted well to stock car racing, finishing the first stage in the eighth position. With teams on varying pit strategies, the running order changed significantly during the second stage, in which Taylor finished in the 24th position.
  • Taylor was close to securing a top-10 finish in the race, but an inopportune caution came out during NASCAR’s second attempt at overtime. During the chaotic final restart, the driver of the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 got caught up in the melee in turn one and lost several positions. Taylor battled back to score a 24th-place finish.

IMSA Champion Jordan Taylor was tabbed by Hendrick Motorsports to fill in as the driver of the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at Circuit of The Americas as Chase Elliott continues to recover from a fractured tibia. Making his NASCAR Cup Series debut, Taylor impressed many early in the weekend after running the 10th fastest lap time in practice on Friday afternoon. He followed that up with a fourth-place qualifying effort on Saturday, the best starting position secured by a driver making their Cup Series debut in over 20 years.

#9: Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro and Jeff Gordon

Taylor knew he would have his work cut out for him during the race as he adapted to a new style of racing in the Cup Series, but he was up for the challenge. Once the green flag dropped on Sunday afternoon, he continued to race inside the top 10. The 31-year-old driver was scored in the ninth position when the first caution flag waved on lap two. He radioed to the team that he was just trying to keep the car clean during the first part of the race and that he needed to be more aggressive. He restarted from the outside row on lap five and got shuffled back to 13th before making his way back up to ninth on lap 11. Just one lap later the caution flag waved and the team opted not to come to pit road. He ended the first stage in eighth.

#9: Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro

As the race resumed on lap 16, Taylor found himself shuffled back to 11th but pressed forward, advancing to 10th on lap 20. On the next lap, cars started to make green-flag pit stops. The team called the driver of the No. 9 to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 22. Back out on the track, Taylor was scored in the 29th position and drove his way to 24th by lap 30, which also marked the conclusion of stage two. The race stayed green as NASCAR made the move in 2023 to discontinue traditional stage breaks at road courses. 

Taylor continued his forward momentum, maneuvering to 20th on lap 33 and climbing back to the top 15 on lap 40. When the caution flag waved, the Orlando, Florida, native was scored in the 15th position. Interim crew chief Tom Gray called Taylor to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. He took the green flag from the 16th position with 25 laps remaining in the race. Dropping back to 22nd on the opening lap, Taylor was undeterred by the loss of track position and began picking up spots as he got back into a rhythm. He was running in 19th on lap 50 and gained two more spots before the yellow flag was displayed with 11 laps to go. After pitting for four tires and fuel, Taylor restarted from 22nd. An on-track incident brought out the caution before the field could complete a lap. On the restart, Taylor got shuffled back to 26th and climbed his way forward again. He was running in the 20th position when the caution flag was displayed with just four laps to go, sending the race into overtime.

#9: Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro

The field lined up for the overtime restart and Taylor chose the inside lane, using that to his advantage to power to the 16th position before the caution flag waved prior the to leader taking the white flag. Taylor once again took the inside lane for the restart and gained more positions once the field was back to green. He was battling for the 10th position when another caution came out. Lining up for the third overtime attempt, Taylor chose the inside. Unfortunately, cars bottled up in turn one and Taylor got trapped in the melee, losing several positions. He battled hard in the final two laps, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the 24th position.

#9: Jordan Taylor, Hendrick Motorsports, UniFirst Chevrolet Camaro

“Yeah, it was definitely wild.” Taylor said. “I feel like I’m beat up pretty much. Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side. So yeah, it was pretty much just survival. The guys knew I’d be a little bit more hesitant, so they would take advantage of it. At the end, I got more aggressive and made our way almost back to the top-10. On the last restart, I don’t know who went down on the inside, but they were never going to make the corner and used us to stop themselves. I’d say it was a disappointing day. I made a couple big mistakes early on that probably put us back there, but the No. 9 UniFirst Chevy was fast. I need to thank UniFirst and Hendrick Motorsports for giving me the opportunity. We had good pace, but we just got shuffled back every restart. Tough day.”

Start / Finish: 4 / 24

Next Race: Sunday, April 2, Richmond Raceway, Richmond, Virginia
How to Watch or Listen: FOX, PRN and SiriusXM

NAPA: @NAPARacing
Chase Elliott: @ChaseElliott
Hendrick Motorsports: @TeamHendrick
No. 9 Team: @Hendrick9Team

Hendrick Motorsports View All

Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history. At the sport’s premier level, the organization holds the all-time records in every major statistical category, including championships (14), points-paying race victories (308) and laps led (over 80,000). Headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, the team fields four full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by 2020 champion Chase Elliott.

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