INDIANAPOLIS –Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott nearly did it again. They ran 1-2 in the closing laps of Sunday’s inaugural Verizon 200 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was shaping up to be a second straight week of a sweep of the top two spots for the Hendrick Motorsports duo and what could have been their fifth on the season in general.
Then, the late race cautions occurred halting any plans of another HMS victory.
Prior to the Lap 78 debacle back on Turn 6, we saw a caution for debris on Lap 72. They duo decided to pit hoping most would follow. Most did too.
Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Chase Briscoe and Matt DiBenedetto didn’t. They’d pit well after most everyone else and this caution was their chance to beat the Hendrick Motorsports camp.
Prior to that, Larson and Elliott were virtually untouchable. Larson led a race-high 28 laps with Elliott pacing the field for 14 circuits himself. At the time of the yellow on Lap 72, Larson had led Elliott by 4.3 seconds. Their teammate, William Byron, was over 6 seconds back in third.
They elected to pit and hope that the fresher tires would still prevail. Larson, exited the pits first but would restart in fifth. Elliott’s crew had troubles with his car falling off the jack and going from entering the pits in second to restarting 18th.
With too much chaos once we got back going again, it never gave Larson much time to use his new tires. He’d finish third. Prior to today, he had eight top two results in his previous 11 races including three top two’s in the last four road course races all together.
“It was wild there at the end,” Larson said. “My car was extremely good. Really proud of everybody on our HendrickCars.com team. We had the best car for sure throughout the second and third stage, and then just we had the caution there with like 10 to go or something and then we had to come down, put tires on, and some guys gambled and stayed out, and that kind of just got us in the mess a little bit. Was able to find my way to the front row and then just got shoved around and put in the grass. Kind of ended my shot to win there. But able to salvage a third, so happy about that, and a good points day.”
Elliott, charged back up to fourth in his No. 9 Chevrolet for his 11th top seven in the last 15 races run this year. This was his worst finish on a road course since being 21st on the Daytona ROVAL back in February.
Last year, he won the Charlotte and Daytona ROVALS to go along with earning the win in the final two road course races in 2019 at Watkins Glen and Charlotte again.