Who wins Sunday’s Verizon 200 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio Network), my picks with the top trends to watch

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2nd NASCAR Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is here. That’s a hot topic in Gasoline Alley this weekend as a lot of the drivers still say that they prefer the oval compared to this 2.439-mile road course layout. Kevin Harvick didn’t mince words on Saturday saying that racing here on the road course is an embarrassment to the series.

He also made mention that he can’t fathom how Kyle Busch is a free agent still and that he’d be open to be his teammate next season should Stewart-Haas Racing sign him. Even with a history of bad blood between the 2, he says that they’ve gotten along much better in recent years and that he not only has no problem with Busch but he thinks the only multi-time series champion in the Cup Series right now would only elevate the entire organization.

Busch talked his lack of headway that he and Joe Gibbs Racing are making on the future too.

That duo had combined to win 4 of the last 6 oval races here…

Both Denny Hamlin and Busch also spoke about last weeks penalty while Toyota also had the piece that they were hit with the infraction with on full display for other teams to see.

Ross Chastain discussed his incident with Hamlin too.

While all this happened, Tyler Reddick was winning the pole for Sunday’s Verizon 200 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio Network).

Trends

  • There have never been more than two cautions during stage one on a road course
  • Stage two was caution free in five of the last seven road-course races, including all three in 2022.
  • All six stage winners on road courses in 2022 finished outside the top 10.
  • 6 of the last 7 race winners only led laps in the final stage of the race.
  •  AJ Allmendinger won in 2021, leading only the final two laps.
  • 11 straight race winners on the season have started in the top 8.
  • 5 straight race winners on the season have started in the top 5.
  • All 3 road course races in 2022 were won by a 1st time winner.
  • 5 of the last 10 road races being won by a driver scoring their 1st or 2nd win on them.
  • 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.

So, who wins the race?

  1. 2 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. By starting 2nd, he follows nearly every trend here.
  2. 9 Elliott – Just too obvious here. He enters having 5 straight top 2 finishes on the season and 3 top 8’s in as many road course starts in 2022. He rolls off 8th on Sunday.
  3. 12 Blaney – He was runner-up last year and was 4th in COTA, 6th in Sonoma and 11th in Road America to make me start to believe in him on road courses again.
  4. 16 Allmendinger – He’s never finished worse than 4th here.
  5. 99 Suarez – He has 2 straight top 5 finishes on road courses this season.

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