NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Indianapolis Track Trends, favs, sleepers, fades, etc

TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.439-mile road course) DISTANCE: 82 Laps – STAGE 1: 15 Laps, Stage 2: 20 Laps, FINAL STAGE 47 LAPS (199.991Miles)

4th straight year this race date has moved. It was September 8, 2019, July 5, 2020, Aug. 15, 2021 and now July 31 this weekend. Finding the right date on the schedule has been tough. But, this is also only the second time the Cup Series has ever raced on the road course.

The Xfinity Series cars tried it in 2020 and it came back for both series in 2021. Now, it’s here again.

Chevrolet has won each of the 3 road course races in 2022 and the final 6 of 2021 for 9 straight wins on these tracks. Factor in the 2019 race at Watkins Glen (2 races in 2019) and the 2 races (Daytona, Charlotte) in 2020 and you get Chevy scoring 13 wins in the last 14 road course races in general.

Also, all 3 road course races in 2022 were won by a 1st time winner. Factor in AJ Allmendinger’s win here last year which was his 2nd Cup win and Christopher Bell’s in Daytona in February (2021) and you get 5 of the last 10 road races being won by a driver scoring their 1st or 2nd win on them.

An odd trend is that for the season, 6 of the last 7 race winners only led laps in the final stage of the race. Also, 5 straight race winners on the season have started in the top 5.


TRACK COMPARISONS

Most comparable to the Charlotte ROVAL but Indy stands out as it’s own race too as it’s not a true road course nor ROVAL either.


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 15: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Hooters Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Discount Tire Ford, William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Favorites

Chase Elliott

He had a top 5 car last year but is winless at Indy even on the oval. Can he join his dad as the first father-son combo to win at Indy in the NASCAR ranks? Elliott was 4th, 8th and 2nd respectively on the 3 road courses run this season.

Kyle Larson

He led the most laps and finished third last year. While he was 29th and 15th at both COTA and Sonoma, he was 4th in Road America.

Trackhouse Racing

They are 2-for-3 in road course wins this year with Ross Chastain winning in COTA and Daniel Suarez in Sonoma. Chastain has finished 1st, 7th and 4th respectively on road courses in 2020 with Suarez being 24th, 1st and 5th. Only reason he was 24th in COTA was he was spun on the restart for the second stage. He led every lap of the opening stage. Kaulig Racing won this race last year so why not Trackhouse in 2022?


Sleepers

Ryan Blaney

He was 4th in COTA, 6th in Sonoma and 11th in Road America to make me start to believe in him on road courses again. He also had a top 5 here last year at that too.

Austin Cindric

He’s a road racer by nature and was 8th, 5th and 7th respectively in the 3 road course races run this season. He also won the Xfinity Series race on this very track here a year ago too.

AJ Allmendinger

He’s always a threat on road courses and even won Indy last year. This year, he was in the top 2 on the final lap in COTA before being crashed for the win and finishing 33rd, in the top 10 late in Sonoma before being spun and finishing 19th and did get a 9th placed run in Road America.

Tyler Reddick

He put a lot of emphasis on road courses and it’s paying off. He has 2 top 5’s in 3 races on them in 2022 including a win the last time out on a road course in Road America.

Chris Buescher

He was 2nd in Sonoma and 6th in Road America.

Michael McDowell

He’s won at Road America in the Xfinity Series before and was 3rd in Sonoma and 8th in Road America this season too.


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 15: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Who To Fade?

Joe Gibbs Racing

The road courses haven’t been kind to JGR in 2022. They went 3-7-18-28 in COTA, 26-27-30-31 in Sonoma and 13-17-18-29 in Road America. Their satellite team in 23XI Racing was also 32-38, 18-36, 27-35 in the same 3 races.

Stewart-Haas Racing

They’ve looked better than JGR, but not by much. They went 11-19-23-20 in COTA, 4-13-14-21 in Sonoma and 10-14-14-28 in Road America.

Joey Logano

His 3 road course finishes in 2022 are 31st, 17th and 27th respectively.


Of Note

13 lead changes last year made this race see more passing than the last time out on the oval.


Key Stat

Hendrick Motorsports had won 9 of the last 13 overall road course races in general entering this season Counting Joe Gibbs Racing, them and HMS had combined to win 11 of the last 14 road course races in that span. Throw in Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.) who was aligned with JGR, these three teams have won 14 of the last 18 road course races coming into 2022. The only ones they didn’t win was when Ryan Blaney (Team Penske) was victorious in 2018 on the Charlotte ROVAL when Truex was crashed in the final turn on the final lap as well as AJ Allmendinger stealing the way at Indy last August when Denny Hamlin was spun while leading coming to the white flag or else it would be 18 straight.

They’re each 0-for-3 this season with Trackhouse Racing winning two and Richard Childress Racing the other.

Also, all 3 road course winners this season picked up their 1st career victories in the process. Winless drivers entered for this weekend’s race? Ty Dillon (0-for-187), Corey LaJoie (0-for-185), Harrison Burton (0-for-22) and Todd Gilliland (0-for-21).

Dillon has finished 20th, 23rd and 20th in the 3 road course events in 2022, LaJoie was 36th, 34th and 34th himself while the 2 rookies fared: 17-28-22 (Burton) and 16-24-25 (Gilliland).

You do have some winless droughts though too.

Almirola and Austin Dillon each only have 3 career wins a piece with Almirola last coming in July of last year and Dillon’s last coming in July of 2020 (Texas). Jones’ last win came 104 races ago. Buescher’s only win came 216 races ago. McDowell was 1-for-463 after his Daytona 500 win but 0-for-56 again since. Haley’s 1 and only Cup win came at Daytona in July of 2019. Custer’s lone win came in July 2020 at Kentucky (76 races ago). Keselowski hasn’t won in his last 47 races but the team he’s driving for hasn’t reached victory lane in the last 184 races (July 2017) which is the last time Stenhouse Jr. won.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s