By Justin Schuoler, Staff Writer
AUSTIN, Texas – After qualifying fourth, Jordan Taylor found himself on the cusp of a top 10 finish in the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.
Despite the stage one eighth place effort and battling back through the field from a bad shuffle of pit strategy, an on-track collision found the four-time International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) champion Chevrolet Camaro as the 24th vehicle to cross the checkered flag.
“I’d say it was a disappointing day,” shared Taylor, but still with a smile. “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.”
It was the first race that NASCAR held with no dedicated stage cautions since 2016, and it resulted in an expansive list of strategies, natural ebbs and flows of competition and a conclusion of triple overtime to determine the race winner.
Fans knew Taylor was in a fast car, considering Hendrick Motorsports’ rise within the road course events and Chase Elliott being one of the best current right-turn drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series garage. With Taylor’s natural ability on road circuits and street courses, it was a perfect match for a potentially strong day that was denied by the racing gods.
“I wouldn’t say I survived; I feel like I’m beat up pretty much,” Taylor shared. “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.”
Taylor wouldn’t deny another opportunity in NASCAR, but finally has a full understanding of what to expect with the competition. Just like any other form of motorsports, every discipline comes with a unique atmosphere. Compared to his experience in sports cars, it was nothing like anything he’d seen before.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life,” he continued. “If someone came over to the sports car side and did that, (they) would be ejected out of the race immediately. For me, I probably should have expected that, just watching years’ past, but when you’re in the car getting smashed around, it’s a much different experience. Even when you’re battling for 29th position, they’ll go for 28th and use you up. A different form of racing that I guess I wasn’t used to and probably shouldn’t have expected, but it’s still cool to get my first Cup race.
“Just wish it would have gone a little bit better.”
Taylor had just a few words to describe the aggressive combat of NASCAR as the day dusked on the Texas race.
“It was definitely wild.”