Tilley Makes His Cup Series Debut; Lally, Pumpelly in Xfinity Series; Chase in Truck Series
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When NASCAR makes its much-anticipated debut this weekend on the Circuit of The Americas road course in Austin, Texas, four current IMSA drivers will be part of the show – including a trio of Rolex 24 At Daytona winners.
Kyle Tilley will make his NASCAR debut at the Texas Grand Prix, driving in the Cup Series main event on Sunday. Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly will race in the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, the same day Parker Chase drives in the Camping World Truck Series event.
For Tilley, winner of the Rolex 24 Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class for Era Motorsport in January, the COTA event is the first of four Cup Series road-course races he’s scheduled to drive in the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford. He’ll also compete at Road America, Watkins Glen International and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“To say I’m excited to race in the NASCAR Cup Series would be an understatement,” said Tilley. “I have always been a big fan of NASCAR and the close racing it provides. To have the opportunity to go up against the best at Circuit of The Americas and the other road courses is going to be both a huge challenge and learning curve, but one I am really looking forward to.”
Lally, the 2011 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year, is a noted road-course ringer for NASCAR races, having racked up 38 Cup Series, 14 Xfinity Series and 14 Truck Series starts over the years. He’ll drive the No. 23 Our Motorsports Chevrolet this weekend in the Xfinity Series. The 46-year-old New Yorker will also provide color commentary during the Truck Series TV broadcast on FS1.
“The only box I have left unchecked in my racing career is getting a win in one of the big three NASCAR series,” Lally, the five-time Rolex 24 winner, said. “I love doing these races and I’d love to see NASCAR add more road courses to their schedule. I’ve had a few good top-five finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and led laps here and there, but I’m still chasing that ‘W.’
“I am racing the No. 23 with Our Motorsports this week, and although it is a small team that is only 18 months old, I have confidence that we can attempt to give the bigger teams a run for their money. This will be an especially interesting race, as we have a handful of really good Cup drivers also competing and some established IMSA drivers as well.”
One of those IMSA drivers is Pumpelly, the two-time Rolex 24 champion who was Lally’s teammate at this January’s 24-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship event at Daytona International Speedway. Pumpelly will be behind the wheel of the No. 6 JD Motorsports Chevrolet for the Xfinity race in his NASCAR debut.
“The opportunity to race in the Xfinity Series and represent the IMSA community is one I’ve been hoping for for a while,” Pumpelly said. “The series is extremely competitive and the cars are fun to drive. I’ll have the chance to mix it up with drivers like Andy Lally, Boris Said and AJ Allmendinger, who should all be familiar to IMSA fans as well as some of the best in stock car racing. Hopefully, we can put on a good show.”
Chase, the 20-year-old from New Braunfels, Texas, is racing this year for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. This weekend he’ll make his second Truck Series start in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota after finishing 23rd in February on the Daytona road course.