Connor Zilisch ‘Experienced About Everything’ in COTA Truck Race

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

The sky wasn’t falling, but for Connor Zilisch it may have seemed like it as he overcame numerous issues to score a top-five finish in his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

Connor zilisch earned a top-five finish after a wild nascar craftsman truck series debut at circuit of the americas.
(Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires)

The trouble for the Trackhouse Racing development driver started shortly after the XPEL 225 started. The 17-year-old’s No. 7 Austin Hatcher Foundation Chevrolet Silverado locked up the tires and went straight in Turn 1. A broken track bar and then a flat tire brought Zilisch to pit road at the end of the first lap. Luckily the Spire Motorsports driver only lost one lap in the process. Zilisch earned the free pass at the end of the first Stage of the scheduled 42 lap race.

However, that was far from the end of the Mooresville, N.C. native’s adventurous day at COTA. Four separate times Zilisch climbed through the field. And four times Zilisch was either spun or was penalized for shortcutting the course. Each time the up-and-coming driver was saved by a timely caution.

A strange incident that saw the rear-end housing eject itself from Marco Andretti’s truck pushed the race into overtime. Zilisch, once again, had just been saved by a timely caution after flat spotting his tires. Crew chief Brian Pattie brought the young driver to pit road for tires and fuel.

Zilisch restarted in ninth. Over the final two laps of the race, he picked off his competition one by one. When the white flag waved, Zilisch had moved back into the top-five. However, he ran out of time and took the checkered flag in fourth.

Post-race Zilisch took to X (formerly Twitter) to talk about his race at COTA as he traveled to Pensacola, FL for the ARCA Menards Series East season opener.

“I think I experienced [just] about everything possible in one race,” Zilisch said on X (formerly Twitter). “(I made) way too many mistakes, but man, were we fast. (I’ll) learn from it.”

The impressive weekend for Zilisch started in practice when he topped the speed charts. The Mazda Pro Cup and IMSA WeatherTech driver then shattered the track record in both Round 1 and Round 2 of qualifying, running over 1.6 seconds faster than the record set last season by Ross Chastain.

Currently the next race on Zilisch’s Truck Series schedule is the Love’s RV Stop 250 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 4. He will also compete in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro SS in the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a part-time basis. His Xfinity Series debut is scheduled for Watkins Glen Int’l in September.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *