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NASCAR Cup Series: Allmendinger Conquers All at Indy Race Course

Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images


For 2021, the NASCAR Cup Series arrives at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for what might have been the most hyped event since their inaugural race on the famous 2.5-mile oval. Instead of running on the speedway synonymous with the IndyCar Series’ crown jewel competition, NASCAR’s top stock cars battled on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. The final of three all-new road courses appearing on the 2021 Cup Series schedule, the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard had the premise for being something unique and spectacular. The race was indeed memorable but only because of some late-race issues with the track setting up a path to victory for one less than likely winner.

With William Byron taking pole as well as Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson leading sizable stints, Hendrick Motorsports again showed their customary mastery of road course racing as they have done throughout the year. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick would take the two opening stage wins due to pit strategy. Larson’s #5 Chevrolet Camaro led the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard late through its decisive final stage as caution came out due to debris in turn six. The curbing attached to the outside of turn 5 and ran along the inside of turn 6 proved to be a troublesome area with a caution in the race previous addressing debris caught in the track feature.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

As Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott led much of the field to the pits, drivers Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Chase Briscoe some of few drivers gambling to remain on track. Hamlin’s #11 Fed-Ex Toyota led cars to a restart on lap 77 just before a series of incident that would see turn six earn legendary infamy. With six laps remaining in the scheduled distance for the race, Martin Truex Jr’s #19 Toyota spun after Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell made contact coming out of the sixth corner. Despite making contact with tire barriers, Truex was able to return to the track keeping the race under green. On the next lap as the lead cars travelled through the turn six again fourth-place running William Byron’s #24 Chevrolet went into a sudden spin when he reported a piece of the curbing caught him. What transpired instantly behind Byron was multiple other competitors also spinning and/or sliding off track. Penske Racing’s #22 Ford Mustang driven by Joey Logano had the most serious impact into a tire barrier but walked away from his wrecked machine unhurt.

During an over 19-minute red flag, track crew removed the defective piece of track. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles was on the scene assisting personnel with reconditioning the area so the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard could restart. Taking the large strip of curbing off the track, another piece that was installed behind remained. When the engines refired, a green-white-chequered overtime restart was organized with Denny Hamlin leading and Chase Briscoe in second entering turn 5 and turn 6. Behind the leaders, another multi-car wreck out of turn 6 take place. Michael McDowell, Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr. were among the drivers involved in this second major incident that also included a briefer red flag.

The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard was decided by a second overtime restart with Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe on the front row as the NASCAR Cup Series field was sent back to green. Running in 17th place with six laps remaining, A.J. Allmendinger escaped damage in the two major accidents to start in third place driving a #16 Chevrolet Camaro for Kaulig Racing on the road course. Heading into the first turn, Hamlin’s #11 and Briscoe’s #14 ran side-by-side on entry but the Ford Mustang ran wide. Cutting through the grass and missing turn 2 on the track, Briscoe not only returned to the course ahead of turn 3 but regained a position to battle Hamlin for the race’s victory. Although expectations were that Chase Briscoe was going to be penalized for the track limit violation, the Stewart-Haas Racing #41 Ford continued to fight for the lead. Exiting turn 9 on the entry into turn 10, Briscoe’s pressure on Hamlin pushed the #11 Toyota Camry spinning the leader off track. After the incident, it would be clear to Chase Briscoe that he would be forced to give up the position and pulled aside letting Allmendinger and Ryan Blaney by to settle who would win the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. Through the final lap, A.J. Allmendinger hit all of his marks taking inaugural NASCAR Cup Series event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a 0.929-second gap over Blaney’s #12 Menards/Knauf Ford.

Running part-time in the series for 2021, A.J. Allmendinger and his #16 Hyperice Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Kaulig Racing pulled off a mild upset against full-time competitors. Becoming the 14th different driver to be in a NASCAR Cup Series victory lane in 2021, the successful run by the 39-year-old Californian-born driver is his first win on the tour since his only victory at the 2014 Watkins Glen event. Kaulig Racing’s first Cup Series win comes ahead of plans to transition to a full-time operation in the series for next season.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Ryan Blaney almost delivered Roger Penske a team sweep of all three races at the Indianapolis race weekend but settled for the runner-up position in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott crossed the line in third and fourth places unable to fully recover their spots prior to their late race pit stops. In fifth place, Matt DiBenedetto drove his Wood Brother Racing-owned #21 Ford Mustang to a third top five result in 2021 as he continues to seek a stock car ride for the 2022 season. Kurt Busch brought the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet to a sixth place finish just ahead of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Erik Jones who capture their first top 10 since the Bristol dirt race in late March.

The race ended with three drivers ineligible for the Cup Series playoffs finishing in the top 10. In addition to Allmendinger, Justin Haley taking eighth place and Saturday’s Xfinity race winner Austin Cindric crossing the line in ninth place. Ryan Newman driving the Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing rounded out the top 10 for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.


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