Motorsport News

Connor Zilisch Overcomes Early Miscues, Penalties to Finish 4th in Truck Debut

#7: Connor Zilisch, Spire Motorsports, Austin Hatcher Foundation Chevrolet Silverado wins the pole

AUSTIN, Texas — Connor Zilisch had one of the more chaotic races for a driver in their first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start.

The 17-year-old Trackhouse Racing-affiliated driver had impressed on the road courses in the ARCA Menards Series, IMSA, Trans-Am and Mazda MX-5 Cup in his young career, and this weekend was his first opportunity to prove that road course talent in the Truck Series at Circuit of the Americas.

He came out swinging early, qualifying on the pole by setting a new track record with a speed of 93.012 mph.

With that in mind, you might think that he would be fighting at the front of the field for the majority of the race. But starting on the first turn of the race, he locked the brakes of his No. 7 and fell down the order outside the top 30.

“I had two trucks inside/outside of me, and I kind of lost my references, and I kind of went off where the [No.] 17 was braking, and he went too deep,” Zilisch said post-race. “So then, that caused me to go too deep. Rookie mistakes that shouldn’t have been made, but I learned a lot and moved on and get better for the next one.”

To add insult to injury, Zilisch experienced a problem with the sway bar that kept him on pit road, putting the No. 7 a lap down, but he was able to stay in the free pass position by the end of stage one.

To make the day increasingly difficult, Zilisch had to deal with a spin while battling in the middle of the pack, as well as two pass-through penalties, the final one coming moments before a late-race caution for Lawless Alan stalling and parking on the track. If the caution were to fly sooner, Zilisch would have had to serve the penalty by heading to the rear of the field instead of passing through and falling to only two spots to sixth.

“I had two pass throughs,” Zilisch said. “I got spun out one time. I had way too many mistakes.”

Zilisch’s final challenge was to drive back to the front on fresh tires after a strategy call to pit with three laps to go in regulation. He was on track for a top-10 finish until Marco Andretti strangely lost the rear-end housing on his No. 04 Chevrolet.

Zilisch took advantage of the extra restart, cutting his way back to a fourth-place finish.

“The end result fourth shows how fast our truck was with the mistakes that I made,” Zilisch said. “It’s really frustrating that I couldn’t have a better run, but honestly, I’m sure I’ll have more races in…

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