NASCAR Cup Series Returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

For the second consecutive season, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of an action-packed tripleheader weekend with the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (on Saturday, July 30).

NASCAR Cup Series

  • Next Race: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard
  • The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
  • The Date: Sunday, July 31
  • The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
  • The Purse: $8,671,417
  • TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
  • Radio: IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
  • Distance: 199.998 miles (82 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15),
  • Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 35), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 82)

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has existed since 1909, and is considered the original “Speedway”, the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name. With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was completed in 2000 and it incorporates part of the famous four-turn oval. The original length upon completion of the road course measured 2.605-miles. In 2008, and again in 2014, the road course layout was modified to improve competition. This weekend’s event will compete on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile paved version of the road course.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval) was August 6, 1994. Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) won the inaugural event at the 2.5-mile speedway. The NASCAR Cup Series made its historical debut on the 14-Turn, 2.439-mile asphalt paved road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season with 40 competitors battling it out for 200 miles (82 laps). It was Kaulig Racing’s road course ace, A.J. Allmendinger, who knabbed the checkered flag in the event, by passing Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and leading just the final two laps en route to the victory.

The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was filled with competitive excitement, producing 13 lead changes among 11 different leaders. But it was Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson (28 laps led) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (27 laps led) who commanded the lion’s share of the laps led in the event.

This weekend’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is scheduled for 82 total laps and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 15 laps, the second will be 20 laps and the final stage will be 47 laps. All the on-track NASCAR Cup Series activity will begin with practice on Saturday from 9:35 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. ET, directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 10:35 a.m. ET. Both events will be televised on the USA Network at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger looks to ‘Kiss the Bricks’ once again

Last season, A.J. Allmendinger delivered the Kaulig Racing organization its first NASCAR Cup Series victory in a stunning run to the finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

“That was an insane race!” exclaimed Allmendinger when he climbed from the No. 16 Chevrolet at Indianapolis last season. “I can’t — the curbing, we were 17th with nine, eight to go, and I was like, all right, maybe we get a top 10, and luckily, we’ve got a team owner that says trophy hunting. He doesn’t care if the car is wrecked, bring it back on the wrecker or you go win the race.”

The impressive run yielded A.J. Allmendinger his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory (Watkins Glen 2014, Indianapolis RC 2021). Now the 40-year-old veteran shuffles back into the hallowed grounds that is Indianapolis Motor Speedway looking for a second chance to ‘Kiss the Bricks’ this weekend.

Allmendinger, currently a fulltime NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor, leads the Xfinity Series driver standings heading into this weekend at Indianapolis, and will be pulling double duty competing on both Saturday and Sunday.

This season, Allmendinger has run a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Cup Series, sharing the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet with Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson. In total, the California native, Allmendinger, has made 10 Cup Series starts this season posting two top-10 finishes.

Playoff Bubble: Five to go in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season

Another repeat winner last weekend at Pocono Raceway is another chance passed for a new driver to earn their way into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs this season by victory. With just five races remaining in the regular season and 14 drivers already visiting Victory Lane this year, only two spots are still up for grabs on points and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney (+105 points above the cutoff) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (+83 points above the cutoff) have a firm grasp on those positions. Though mathematically possible to make run on points to catch Blaney and Truex in these last five races, a win would be much easier to seal the deal.

Of the drivers looking for their first win of the season, three finished inside the top 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course last year; including Ryan Blaney’s runner-up finish, Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones’ seventh-place finish and Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley’s eighth-place finish.

On the Playoff bubble hot seat for the second consecutive week, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. can certainly feel the pressure to secure his spot in the Playoffs in the last and final transfer spot on points with five races still remaining in the regular season. Truex is currently 83 points up on Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in 17th in the Playoff outlook driver standings. But with four previous Cup Series road course wins in his career, the New Jersey native would prefer to get his fifth road course victory this weekend and earn his spot in the Playoffs. Truex finished 15th at the Indianapolis Road Course last season.

Rank Driver Points Wins Stages Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff Indy RC Finish
15 Ryan Blaney 676 0 5 5 105 2nd
16 Martin Truex Jr. 654 0 7 7 83 15th
17 Kevin Harvick 571 0 0 0 -83 14th
18 Aric Almirola 514 0 0 0 -140 25th
19 Erik Jones 472 0 0 0 -182 7th
20 Austin Dillon 448 0 0 0 -206 31st
21 Michael McDowell 447 0 0 0 -207 30th
22 Bubba Wallace 418 0 1 1 -236 13th
23 Justin Haley 407 0 0 0 -247 8th
24 Chris Buescher 388 0 0 0 -266 12th
25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 367 0 0 0 -287 11th
26 Cole Custer 353 0 0 0 -301 25th
27 Harrison Burton # 333 0 0 0 -321 N/A
28 Brad Keselowski 319 0 0 -10 -335 24th
29 Todd Gilliland # 308 0 0 0 -346 N/A
30 Ty Dillon 294 0 0 0 -360 N/A

Elliott’s fourth win of the season opens up his standings lead

With Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (second in the series standings) being caught in an incident and finishing 32nd, plus Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch getting the double post-race DQ awarding Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott the win at Pocono Raceway, the Georgia native’s NASCAR Cup Series driver standings lead has ballooned to 105 points over second and now the 2022 regular season title is in sight.

Elliott is currently riding the best five-race window of success in his NASCAR Cup Series career, posting an average finish of 1.4 and finishing first or second in the each of the last five Cup Series events.

Just five races remain in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and Chase Elliott looks poised to become the fifth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship; joining Kyle Larson (2021), Kevin Harvick (2020), Kyle Busch (2018, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017). Securing the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship not only brings prestige, but also 15 bonus Playoff points which would elevate Elliott’s Playoff points total from the current series leading 25, to a massive mountain-like 40 Playoff points.

Looking to this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Elliott will attempt to build on his strong performance from last season, where he started third and led 14 laps en route to a fourth-place finish.

Chase Elliott is currently third on the NASCAR Cup Series all-time road course wins list with seven road course victories, behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine road course wins) and Tony Stewart (eight road course wins).

Active road course aces this weekend to watch

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick outdueled Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott at Road America, the last road course the NASCAR Cup Series visited on July 3, to get his first career series win and become the 14th active road course winner entered this weekend to compete in Sunday’s (July 31) Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the 2.349-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

One to watch in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, was last weekend’s Pocono Raceway winner and Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott as he looks to retake his crown as the active road course king this weekend. Elliott leads the 14 active Cup Series road course winners with seven victories on tracks that turn left and right. Expect Elliott to be upfront again this weekend as in last season’s Indianapolis Road Course race, he started third and led 14 laps before finishing fourth. Plus, he has the second-best average finish on the three road courses the NASCAR Cup Series has already visited this season with a 4.6; behind only Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain with a 4.0.

Another former road course winner having a great season this year, despite some bad luck last weekend at Pocono, is Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney; currently third in the series’ driver standings, but without a win is 15th on the Playoff outlook heading into this weekend at Indianapolis. Blaney finished runner-up to A.J. Allmendinger in last season’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Cup race and his lone road course win in the NASCAR Cup Series came at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL – another road course that incorporates the oval of the track in its layout like Indianapolis. And on top of all that, Blaney has the fourth-best average finish on the three road courses the Cup Series has visited already this season with a 7.6.

Active Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series
Active Road Course Winners Total Wins Sonoma WGI Charlotte Daytona Indy COTA Road America
Chase Elliott 7 0 2 2 1 0 1 1
Kyle Busch 4 2 2 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Truex Jr 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Larson 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 0
Kevin Harvick 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 0
AJ Allmendinger 2 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
Joey Logano 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kurt Busch 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Blaney 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Christopher Bell 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
Denny Hamlin 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Ross Chastain 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Daniel Suárez 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tyler Reddick 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

Or will the fans get to see another new winner this weekend? With a series record five new winners this season, it could happen. The first three road course races this year have already produced three first-time NASCAR Cup Series winners – Circuit of the Americas, Ross Chastain; Sonoma Raceway, Daniel Suárez; and Road America, Tyler Reddick.

Ten of the 38 drivers entered this weekend are looking for their for first career NASCAR Cup Series victory – (in alphabetical order) Josh Bilicki, Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Joey Hand, Loris Hezemans, Daniil Kvyat, Corey LaJoie, BJ McLeod and Cody Ware.

In addition, seven drivers that visited Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series last season are still looking for their first win of 2022 – A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Martin Truex Jr., Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Team Hezeberg taps Daniil Kvyat for Indianapolis Road Course – Former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat will attempt to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The Team Hezeberg organization will have the 26-yeard-old from Ufa, Russia, pilot the No. 26 Ford this weekend alongside crew chief Josh Reaume.

Kvyat is a product of the Red Bull program, he raced from 2014-‘20 with Toro Rosso, Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Team Hezeberg will attempt for the first time in its brief history to field two cars this weekend in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Kvyat will be in the No. 26 Ford and Loris Hezemans will be in the No. 27 Toyota.

Elliott, Larson, Hamlin tied for series-most wins since 2020 – Since the start of the 2020 season, 24 different drivers have won at least one NASCAR Cup Series race, but three drivers, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin, are tied for the series-most wins with 11 victories each – totaling 33 of the 93 races run (35.4%).

Chase Elliott Denny Hamlin Kyle Larson
Track Season Track Season Track Season
Daytona RC 2020 Daytona 2020 Las Vegas 2021
Charlotte 2020 Darlington 2020 Charlotte 2021
Charlotte RC 2020 Homestead 2020 Sonoma 2021
Martinsville 2020 Pocono 2020 Nashville 2021
Phoenix 2020 Kansas 2020 Watkins Glen 2021
COTA 2021 Dover 2020 Bristol 2021
Road America 2021 Talladega 2020 Charlotte RC 2021
Dover 2022 Darlington 2021 Texas 2021
Nashville 2022 Las Vegas 2021 Kansas 2021
Atlanta 2022 Richmond 2022 Phoenix 2021
Pocono 2022 Charlotte 2022 Auto Club 2022

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

Denny Hamlin vs. Ross Chastain

What an adventurous Sunday it was for these rivals that have traded paint the whole season. Two of the best cars once again, they found themselves next to each other on the front row with 21 laps to go in the race. Hamlin, who had promised revenge for Chastain, gave him no room heading into Turn 1, causing Chastain to be sent up the track, into the wall and ultimately wrecking out of the race. Though Hamlin crossed the finish line first, both him and Kyle Busch’s cars were DQ’d, resulting in another Chase Elliott win. This week at Indianapolis, we’ll see if Hamlin and Chastain will duel once again as both are former road course winners.

Chase Elliott vs. Kyle Larson

Widely regarded as the two best road course ringers in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson both finished in the top-five last year at Indianapolis in a race that A.J. Allmendinger ultimately won. For two guys that combined to win five of the seven road course tracks last year, neither have picked up a win at a road course this year. Co-favorites for every road course thus far, will Indianapolis be the place that one of these two gets Hendrick back to Victory Lane on a road course?

Martin Truex Jr. vs. Chase Briscoe

This matchup sets up for a battle of the strategies this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Martin Truex Jr. is without a win this year, and with 14 different winners, it’s becoming increasingly likely that he will have to reach Victory Lane to make the Playoffs. Regarded as a particularly good road course driver, Truex hasn’t won at a road course since his 2019 Sonoma win. Chase Briscoe yet to win on a road course since joining the NASCAR Cup Series but won at the Indianapolis Road Course in 2020 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While Truex needs a win, Briscoe needs points. This matchup may come down to pit strategy near the end of stages.

Tyler Reddick vs. Ryan Blaney

Much like the previous matchup, Tyler Reddick vs. Ryan Blaney is a matter of stage points and wins. Reddick, who won the last road course race at Road America, is near the bottom of the cutline for drivers who have a win. If there are more than 16 winners this year, Reddick may be in jeopardy of missing out on the Playoffs. Like Reddick, Blaney is in danger of missing out on the Playoffs even though he sits third in the standings. Needing a win to lock himself into the postseason, Blaney will be looking forward to Indianapolis. Both drivers are capable of winning this weekend, but will Reddick opt for stage points instead of track position?

Hamlin to reach 600 NASCAR Cup Series starts – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will make his 600th NASCAR Cup Series career start this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course becoming the 33rd different driver to make 600 or more starts in the series.

Hamlin will also become the sixth active driver to make 600 or more starts in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining Kurt Busch (776 starts), Kevin Harvick (775), Kyle Busch (627) and Martin Truex Jr. (606).

Hamlin made his first NASCAR Cup Series start in 2005 at Kansas Speedway. In 599 starts, Hamlin has collected 36 poles, 48 wins (most by a driver without a title), 201 top fives and 310 top 10s.

Stenhouse Jr. to reach 350 NASCAR Cup Series starts – JTG Daugherty Racing’s driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make his 350th NASCAR Cup Series career start this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Stenhouse Jr., a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, has put up three poles, two wins, 20 top fives and 45 top 10s in 349 NASCAR Cup Series starts.

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