NASCAR Cup Series to debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

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For the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series 72-year history, the series will compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in the inaugural Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on August 15 at 1 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course joins the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track and the Circuit of The Americas as the third different track the series has debuted at this season.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is a 14-turn asphalt paved road course that spans 2.439-mles and is located inside and a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is the sixth of seven road course tracks on the Cup Series schedule this season – Daytona RC (won by Christopher Bell, 2/21), COTA (Chase Elliott, 5/23), Sonoma (Kyle Larson, 6/6), Road America (Chase Elliott, 7/4), Watkins Glen (Kyle Larson, 8/8), Indianapolis RC (8/15) and Charlotte ROVAL (10/10) – the most road courses ever in a single Cup season.

This weekend’s procedures at Indianapolis will be action packed, with practice and qualifying taking place over the weekend. This will be the seventh of eight race weekends this season with designated practice and qualifying. 

The lone NASCAR Cup Series Practice will take place at 11:05 a.m. ET – 11:55 a.m. ET (Saturday, August 14) and can be viewed on the NBC Sports App & Trackpass from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET. 

The Busch Pole Qualifying will be held on the same day as the race at 9:05 a.m. ET (Sunday, August 15) and can viewed on CNBC from 9 a.m.-10 a.m. ET followed by the race on NBC at 1 p.m. ET. 

Rare Occasion: Back-to-back road courses on the Cup schedule

For the first time in over 50 years the NASCAR Cup Series will compete on road courses in back-to-back races on the schedule. It is the fourth time the series has scheduled back-to-back road course events all-time. 

The first was in the 1957 season (back when the NASCAR Cup Series started a season in the previous year), it has also happened on the same day also during the 1957 season and the third time it occurred in the Cup Series was when they ended the 1963 season at Riverside and started the 1964 season at Augusta.

SeriesSeasonDateTrackRace Winner
Cup1957Sunday, December 30, 1956Titusville-CocoaFireball Roberts
Cup1957Sunday, February 17, 1957Daytona B&RCotton Owens
Cup1957Sunday, August 4, 1957Watkins GlenBuck Baker
Cup1957Sunday, August 4, 1957KitsapParnelli Jones
Cup1963Sunday, November 3, 1963RiversideDarel Dieringer
Cup1964Sunday, November 17, 1963Augusta (RC)Fireball Roberts

Regular Season Championship: Larson ties Hamlin in points and takes standings lead with tiebreaker

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson snatched his 2021 season NASCAR Cup Series leading fifth victory from his competitors last weekend at Watkins Glen International and with it took the series standings lead by tying Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in points (917 points each) with just three races remaining in the regular season – Larson holds the points tiebreaker of most wins with five to Hamlin’s none

But there are still three races left and a lot can happen. Both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson will be making their series track debuts this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. It will be the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on the 2.439-mile road course configuration at Indianapolis.

Last weekend at Watkins Glen, Larson grabbed his fifth win of the season and second victory on a road course this year (Sonoma, Watkins Glen). Hamlin finished fifth at Watkins Glen, his 12th top-five finish of the season. 

Looking ahead to the next two races after Indianapolis this points battle could come down to the regular season finale at Daytona to see who will take home the trophy and the 15 additional Playoff points. 

Michigan International Speedway

Denny Hamlin has made 30 starts at the 2-mile highspeed oval posting two wins (2010, 2011), nine top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 13.2. 

Kyle Larson has made 12 starts at Michigan accumulating three wins (2016, 2017 sweep), five top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at the track is 12.4. 

Daytona International Speedway

Denny Hamlin has made 31 starts at the ‘World Center of Racing’ grabbing three wins (all Daytona 500s – 2016, 2019, 2020), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 16.0.  

Kyle Larson has made 14 starts at Daytona posting five top 10s. His average finish at the track is 21.1. 

If Hamlin or Larson win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship, the winner will become just the fourth different driver in series history to win the prestigious award.  

NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champions
RankTitlesDriversYears
12Kyle Busch2019, ’18
21Kevin Harvick2020
Martin Truex Jr.2017

Clinch Scenarios: Three races to decide final few postseason spots

Only three races left in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season for the drivers to clinch their spot in the 2021 Playoffs. Following Watkins Glen International last weekend, 11 different drivers have clinched their spot in the postseason leaving five spots still mathematically eligible.

Already Clinched

The following 11 drivers have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Kyle Larson, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the second winless driver in the standings. 

Denny Hamlin: Would clinch regardless of finish.

Can Clinch Via Previous Wins

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by previous winner or a win by Denny Hamlin:

Michael McDowell and Aric Almirola: Would clinch regardless of finish.

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by new winner:

Michael McDowell: Could only clinch with help.

Aric Almirola: Could only clinch if the new winner is Corey Lajoie or another driver even lower in the standings.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend:

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola.

The following drivers could clinch with a win:

Chris Buescher: Could only clinch with help.

Matt DiBenedetto: Could only clinch with help.

Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help.

Road Course Kings: Elliott looks to tie Tony Stewart on road course wins list

When it comes to road racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott is instantly mentioned as one of the favorites to watch, and with good reason. Elliott has won six of the last eight road course races the NASCAR Cup Series has competed at.

With his latest foray into Victory Lane at Road America, Elliott locked up his seventh NASCAR Cup Series road course win and with it moved solely into third all-time on the Cup road course wins list, just one win shy of NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in second with eight road course victories. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most road course wins with nine.

All-Time Top Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series and the Tracks They Won At

Road Course WinnersTotal RC WinsSonomaWatkins GlenDaytona RCCharlotte RCCOTARoad America
Jeff Gordon9540000
Tony Stewart8350000
Chase Elliott7021211

Seven of the 2020 series champion’s 13 career Cup wins have come on road courses – Watkins Glen 2018, 2019; Charlotte ROVAL 2019, 2020; Daytona Road Course 2020; Circuit of The Americas 2021; Road America 2021. Now Elliott looks to get his seventh road course win in his series track debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course this weekend – a feat the 25-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia has already championed, winning at COTA in his first appearance earlier this season. Elliott finished runner-up in last weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International.

Rookie Spotlight: Chase Briscoe might have an edge this weekend at Indianapolis

Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe is the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series field attempting to qualify for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (1 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that has won a NASCAR national series race at the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The rising star from Mitchell, Indiana, took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race there in 2020 with a daring late race pass with just two laps to go.

Briscoe is one of just seven drivers entered this weekend in the Cup race that competed in the Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2020. The other six drivers are Justin Haley (finished second in the Xfinity race), AJ Allmendinger (fourth), Austin Cindric (fifth), Ross Chastain (sixth), Anthony Alfredo (20th) and Josh Bilicki (23rd).

Briscoe churned up his third top-10 finish of the season last weekend at Watkins Glen International; interestingly, all three of his top 10s have come on road courses – COTA (sixth), Road America (sixth), WGI (ninth). 

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR teams up with the NSTA – NASCAR and the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) announced this week the launch of a new science and STEM learning curriculum for K-8 science teachers across the United States. The racing-themed science lessons will be available free of charge to educators nationwide on NSTA.org.

The collaboration between NASCAR and NSTA, the global leader in promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, is designed to arm educators with fun and engaging content and activities for teaching science and STEM. NASCAR and NSTA worked together to create a series of unique science lesson plans including lessons on aerodynamics, friction and motion, light, sound, and more. 

“We are thrilled to partner with NSTA, a passionate community of science educators and professionals devoted to teaching and offering science resources to kids across the country,” said Pete Jung, Chief Marketing Officer, NASCAR. “This collaboration provides NASCAR an incredible opportunity to make an impact in science education while introducing new generations to the sport.”

Richmond Raceway to host Track Laps for Charity – Richmond Raceway will host a Track Laps for Charity presented by Toyota Richmond Area Dealers on Saturday, Aug. 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Track Laps for Charity offers fans the opportunity to drive their personal vehicles around Richmond Raceway for a donation of $20. All proceeds will benefit the USO Hampton Roads & Central Virginia and Richmond Raceway Cares.

“We are proud to continue our close partnership with Toyota Richmond Area Dealers for our upcoming Track Laps for Charity,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “Track Laps for Charity is a unique community event that showcases the on-track experience at America’s Premier Short Track while benefiting worthy causes in our community. We look forward to welcoming back fans to support the USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia and Richmond Raceway Cares.”