INDIANAPOLIS — History just seems to repeat itself here in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in more ways than one. The 2nd Brickyard 400 was won by a black colored Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet The same can now be said of the 2nd annual Verizon 200.
“Anytime you win at Indy, it’s always great,” team owner Richard Childress said. “This will be the fourth win on the Brickyard. We won one with Ty Dillon with the Xfinity, so we’ve won five times. Anytime you can get a win at Indy, it’s very special.
Tyler Reddick outdueled the field on not one, but two late race restarts to take his black No. 8 Chevrolet to victory lane after scoring his 2nd career NASCAR Cup Series victory under bright blue Central Indiana skies.
“It feels pretty dang special, I’m not going to lie,” Reddick said after leading a race-high 38 of 86 laps. “It’s pretty special. Yeah, it was very special. I’m not going to lie.
“I’ve watched a lot of racing at this venue as a kid growing up. A lot of really incredible drivers have won at this racetrack, and it’s really, really cool to be a part of the group of drivers that have won here, and yeah, I’m really happy about it, and hopefully I’ll be racing here again next year — well, I should be, I guess. I should be racing here next year. But hopefully winning again next year, and I’m excited to race here in some other things, too. I’d love to do that.”
Reddick inherited the lead on Lap 63 when Joey Hand hit pit lane from the lead while running his 2nd to last stint long. He did so under caution from when Kyle Larson’s brakes failed him and he rammed into Ty Dillon entering Turn 1 on the 2.439-mile road course. That caution on Lap 62 was the first on track accident of the day. The previous 2 stoppages were for stage breaks.
Reddick drove off from the field on the Lap 65 restart while the main battle was from behind. Christopher Bell dropped from 2nd to 6th on that restart with Ryan Blaney who swung for the fences in his No. 12 Ford elected to pit for fuel only on Lap 53. He had to do something differently and with the tires holding up almost too well, they felt like they needed to try something new and it almost paid off.
It helped with track position. However, his car just wasn’t quick enough initially which is why Chase Elliott was chasing him down.
Elliott would pass Blaney for 2nd on Lap 73 and have 9 laps of catching Reddick. The thing is, Reddick was pulling away in the process. He was over 3 seconds up on Elliott and looking like he would cruise to his 1st Indianapolis victory before Bell flat spotted his tires entering Turn 12 the previous lap and blew a right front tire on the front stretch on Lap 77. The caution would come out and change the entire complexity of this event.
Elliott, the road course master, was now going to share the front row on the ensuing Lap 80 restart with Reddick.
Elliott though spun in Turn 1 while battling for the top spot which allowed Reddick to clear the field again. Erik Jones behind them got off track in Turn 4 and spun. Austin Dillon was collected and got stuck in the gravel pit. Reddick’s teammate would bring out the 5th and final caution of the day.
Now, Reddick had to outduel another road racing expert – AJ Allmendinger. He won last year’s race here and also yesterday’s Pennzoil 150 too. He’s never finished worse than 4th on this road course before and now here is he on the front row with Reddick.
“Every restart once we had some cautions, they were very important,” he said. “I’m not going to lie, I saw drivers like Austin Cindric and a few others at the end of practice do some mock restarts.
“As the race progressed, I thought I had found the limit on the restart braking zone. It’s much different than what the normal braking zone is on a green flag lap.
“Thankfully I never overexerted and went past that mark. But we had pretty good brakes on our car all day long, could be pretty aggressive on that front, and was able to defend because of the good brakes that we had on our car and then also kind of be aggressive with the car that we were racing on the front row beside me.”
Like last year’s inaugural race, the event also ended in overtime with some controversy.
Ross Chastain came from 4th to look at the lead which caused Ryan Blaney to get into Allmendinger who spun himself in the process while fighting with Daniel Suarez too. It was now an intense battle between Chastain and Reddick for the win after Chastain completely overshot the corner and took the lead in Turn 3. However, Reddick got him back in Turn 12. He’d never look back and score his 2nd straight win on a road course at that.
“I couldn’t believe he (Ross Chastain) got ahead of me,” Reddick said. “I was kind of waiting to see if he was going to have a penalty because I didn’t want to move him out of the way and make his race worse than what it was.
“Yeah, I was really surprised by that, but hey, we made it work. Hats off to Ross for trying to do that, but really glad it didn’t end up working out because I’d have been pretty pissed off.
“It didn’t seem like real life. I was like, what? I was waiting to see what was going to happen with that situation because I think I had Jim Pohlman say, hey, he’s probably going to get penalized. Well, dammit, Jim, like — Star Trek reference right there. He’s going to get penalized isn’t good enough. I need to know if — I didn’t know for sure if he was or wasn’t.
“Yeah, I was trying to race him as hard as I could, but I saw Austin Cindric was right there, and if you get battling side by side in certain sections of this racetrack, you can really hurt lap time on both drivers and allow third place to catch up. It was kind of a complex situation for a couple seconds there, but thankfully I was able to get momentum on Ross in a pretty convenient spot and make the pass for the lead and then check out from there.”
Chastain was handed a 30-second penalty for cutting Turn 1 which while he crossed the Yard of Bricks 2nd, he was dropped to 27th.
“Yeah, got a good start and pushed AJ pretty good getting into 1 and they just kept going to our right and I me and AJ were way out there to the left and my spotter called four wide so I was turning in and realize there’s no way we were making it and just decided to get out of the way and take the access lane.
“I mean, yeah, I realized we were side by side with the 8. The way I understand it is if you cut and don’t take the access lane, then you remerge and don’t gain any ground. So if I misunderstood the rule, but it was It wasn’t had not thought about that before turn one I realized there’s no way we’re making turn one I can’t turn in I’m gonna be in the grass. So I took the the alternative lane that they gave us.
“I know that Miller and O’Donnell and Phelps and those guys are going to look at it and I haven’t seen any replays yet. So it’s their call, right? It’s their sandbox. So they say we have a penalty. We have a penalty. I thought I did the rule though and thought I thought that I abided by the rules. I didn’t do it maliciously. I didn’t do it preemptively. We haven’t planned for that. There was three cars in my right and everybody run into each other and I was turning in I couldn’t. I couldn’t see how we would make it and I was going to be in the grass. So I tried to take the alternative which they give us here.
“He had a better car, better tires and a better driver so I did everything that I could and I thought I had obeyed the rule.”
2nd place starter Austin Cindric was moved up to 2nd in his No. 2 Ford while fellow rookies Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland were 3rd and 4th respectively too. Bubba Wallace would round out the top 5 here in his No. 23 Toyota.
Win Heals Reddick’s/Childress’ Relationship
“Winning helps,” Tyler Reddick said of his relationship with current boss Richard Childress. Unlike another driver-owner situation in another racing series, this one isn’t as toxic in the NASCAR garage. Yes, Richard Childress was pissed off to be spurned by Reddick to leave them in 2024.
However, while the 2 sides haven’t talked much since that fateful day in early July, they did a lot more under the shadows of the front stretch while each kissed the famed Yard of Bricks after Reddick held off Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger and Ross Chastain on the final 2 restarts to score his 2nd career Cup Series victory.
Reddick won his first career race on July 3 at Road America. 11 days later, it was announced he was leaving the team and joining 23X Racing for 2024. Childress wasn’t happy. He maintains that he felt like they had a great offer on the table to retain Reddick for his next contract and to find out this way was sickening to him. That’s because RCR and Reddick agreed on the 2023 option and after doing so, were discussing a mutual future together.
In the mean time, Denny Hamlin found out Reddick was a free agent for 2024.
“I watched him. I raced against him. I wanted him and I got him,” Hamlin said via the Toyota call at the time of the announcement. “It made sense to me; you look at his age, his runway that he has, franchise drivers don’t come around that often. And so, if there’s ever one that you feel like you can grab, you go after, you do whatever it takes to make that happen and then you work on the details later.
“All we know is we wanted him and we made sure we planted our feet deep in the ground to make sure Tyler (Reddick) had an opportunity with this race team, and we made it happen.
“Tyler is one of the most sought-after young drivers and has been competitive in everything he’s raced. His work on the track speaks for itself and he will make a fantastic addition to our lineup in 2024. The team has seen a lot of growth since our first race and signing Tyler is a great next step for us to remain competitive for years to come.”
RCR was pissed by this and put out a wild tweet minutes later.
Childress questioned where Reddick’s respect was. He never gave them a heads up other than on the morning that the announcement was going to be made. Childress felt like Reddick should have come to him sooner so they could have at least put out a mutual release.
Instead, they were blindsided with no shot to have their own spin on it.
“Well, after they made their announcement, I met — I thought about it a lot that night, gave it a lot of thought, and it’s more than just about one person,” Childress said. “It’s about a team. Stayed up most of the night thinking about what I should do, how I wanted to handle it.
I went in the next day and told the whole team it wasn’t a perfect circumstance the way it went down, but we’re going to give it everything we’ve got this year, and we’ll see where we go next year.”
Up until this win quite honestly, some were wondering if Reddick would just get let go early. RCR was so mad, they could just let him out of his contract a year early and pursue someone else. I mean a search was on for 2024, why not sooner?
It was toxic. Reddick admitted as much on Sunday. He didn’t talk to his boss much until this win. Now, his future is solidified. Childress confirmed Reddick isn’t going anywhere until 2024 now. He will have a seat at RCR in 2023.
“Yeah, Tyler will be in the car at RCR next year,” Childress confirmed.
Reddick also admitted that it was uneasy for a while but this win definitely helps their relationship, especially at Indy.
“Anytime you win at Indy, it’s always great,” Childress said. “This will be the fourth win on the Brickyard. We won one with Ty Dillon with the Xfinity, so we’ve won five times. Anytime you can get a win at Indy, it’s very special.”
Chastain Penalized, Elliott Spin Late Ruins Momentum
Chase Elliott had 5 straight top 2 finishes on the season. He restarted the 2nd to last restart in 2nd. He’d spin and finish a disappointing 16th.
Chastain finished runner-up for his 7th top 8 in the last 8 races run including 4 top 5’s in the last 6. Then he was penalized to 27th.
For 2 drivers that had good results coming, each was scored outside the top 15.
Rookies Shine On Late Race Restarts
A 2nd year driver won. The 3 behind them are rookies. That’s the top 4 drivers with each having less than 3 years experience between them all.
It’s the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Rookies aren’t supposed to shine here either. This is a place to where you have to cut your teeth and take your lumps before she hands you success. Well, Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland have something to say about that.
Cindric finished 2nd in his No. 2 Ford. Burton brought his No. 21 Ford home in 3rd for his best career finish while Gilliland was one spot behind them in fourth in his No. 38 Ford.
In a new age of NASCAR with a Next Gen race car making its debut this year and a new style of racing because of that, the kids shined as bright as the blue sun filled Indiana sky on Sunday.
While this isn’t Cindric’s first IMS road course start in the Cup Series (he finished 9th last year) he is though in his rookie season in the Cup Series this year.
Cindric says his day was vastly different than what the box score shows. Started 2nd. Finished 2nd. It wasn’t as easy day of a day as that sounded.
“Wow no other form of motorsports no other race it’s ever been put on at this place other than NASCAR man that’s that’s all I can say to describe it,” Cindric said of his 4th top 5 finish of the season. “On paper it looks good started second finish second but just a lot deeper than that and it’s still a 2nd place finish. Wish Ross (Chastain) would have opened up a bit of a hole there for me to contend with the 8 car (Reddick) there but I had a lot of toe damage from the from the restart prior and just glad to come out unscathed.”
Burton also rebounded from early race troubles as he was 30th at the end of the 2nd stage after getting into Cole Custer early on in that stage. He never expected to be in the hunt for a top 5 in the end.
“No, honestly I did not think we were gonna come back to that,” Burton said of his early race troubles. “I just screwed up. I was trying to get the track position back after staying out for a stage point there (Stage 1). We thought we were gonna get more points and more people stayed out. That surprised us as a group.
“I was trying to go get track position and just made an aggressive move and locked the rear tires up and slid into him. I felt bad for Cole (Custer) because he literally just went straight into the corner and I just came in and hit him backwards. So I was glad we could recover. But yeah, after that, I thought it was gonna be really hard.”
He says that after an up, down and sideways day to where he spun out and didn’t have a clean race, it was more encouraging than anything to come away with a top 5.
“We can finish third on a day that we didn’t execute well just kind of did our job and wait,” he continued. “When it mattered the most got aggressive and ended up working.”
Both say that the restarts in the end are what makes this new version of NASCAR different than the old.
“The last time I’ve been a part of something like that is rallycross, it’s kind of a contact sport,” Cindric said. You know, I figured it’d be a bit that way with not having steel fenders anymore but that was a lot.
“It’s survival. I mean, the restarts I’d solely positioned myself in the brake zone to make sure you don’t get wiped out. There’s certainly some luck involved, not being on the outside is one of them, but also making sure you don’t have too much wheel to wheel contact. Like I said, I’m only control so much. I felt like they got a bit fortunate with the last one. Pretty sure I got shoved all the way down in the brake zone. I thought it wasn’t gonna work out well. It cleaned out. A lot of guys and I finished.
“Yeah, I knew I knew I wanted to be on the bottom. I feel like that was gonna be the safest place to be because it just keeps going that way into Turn 4 (oval). I got my rear completely locked. I’m pretty sure I got shoved all the way into the corner. Then everybody else ended up in grass and I ended up 2nd.
“I mean, there was certainly an opportunity and you know I approached the last restart like man I don’t want to get eaten up because I have all this damage.
“We learned a lot today. We tried a lot of new things this weekend and I think raw speed check race ability not so much.
As far as what you do in the car to plan for the final restart?
“Survive,” he says. That’s all you can do.
“You know when we when we got out of the first restart, I was always shaking the car around because my brakes were really unstable,” Cindric said. “So that caution kind of gave me time to kind up with a game plan kind of adjusted my tools to figure out how to not get eaten up but then you get a gift in front of you and you’re running behind the 2 leaders at the end of the race. I was really hoping the 1 car would kind of force the issue and shove them both off the track or at least give me an opportunity but I never had one.”
Burton notes that you can’t control much other than your positioning on track and to try to make himself not a bat or a ball, but just to put himself in a spot to where he could do neither and and try and get in the middle and if he got hit, he’d get into someone else and not into the grass.
“So that was my plan of attack,” he says. “It’s kind of weird. Normally you fight to go die bomb on the inside of somebody but I was like, I’m just going to move this guy over a little bit like get to the middle and it ended up working out. The last two restarts we ended up getting from 17th to 9th then 9th to 3rd.”
He tells me when he was 9th on that final restart and knowing anything could happen in front, what was going on in his mind at that point coming to the green?
“I was actually nervous because, you know, we had had a bad day, like I said earlier to start and it’s like man, this is a decent finish and we can stand here I hope I just hope this doesn’t go bad,” he told me. “And we ended up off the track. So it’s really defensive to try and not have that happen. And, you know, that ended up working out for us. So honestly, it was kind of dreading going off into turn one and I’ve thought I was gonna crash a few times. And once I got straightened out, I was like hey, that works out, so you know looked up and only saw three guys in front of us so cool to do that and build off I think we’ve been getting better and better every week. So good the flashing good finish here and go try and run on their next time.
“I’m not the best road racer I’ve worked really hard to try and get better. I felt like these are going to be my weaknesses coming into this year and been working pretty tirelessly on it. So trying to get better and better at it and you know paid off hopefully.”
Burton now holds bragging right on his dad. His best Indy finish is 5th in 1999. Burton finished 2 spots higher in his Indy Cup Series debut.
“Any time I can race where my dad race is neat,” he told me. I was actually was at an antique store. It’s kind of weird last night looking at old pictures of him racing and bought a few things. So it’s kind of cool to see.”
As far as if he will use this result to rag on his dad?
“He’ll say how many Cup races have you won?” Burton joked.
More Changes Needed To This Race?
NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway worked together to fix troublesome areas of the track after last year’s inaugural event. It paid off. We didn’t see any issues where we did last year. However, maybe some more adjustments are needing to be made.
For the 2nd straight year, a car at the end of the race had an on track penalty while trying to go for the win. It created chaos.
A year ago, Chase Briscoe went off course on the final overtime restart but came back on and a battle for the win with Denny Hamlin ensued. Briscoe was penalized for it. He didn’t know. He made contact with Hamlin and ruined both of their race winning efforts.
It nearly happened again in the 2nd edition.
Ross Chastain tried to make a daring maneuver from 4th on the final restart to go for the lead. Chaos occurred. Chastain went off course by ignoring the turn and coming back on while battling with Tyler Reddick for the win. He too was penalized but didn’t know it until after he crossed the finish line and was doing post race interviews.
A couple of factors here.
Taking the approach he took was still dangerous and clearly an advantage. Can they add something there to keep cars from cutting the corner?
Also, can we not have next year make 3 straight years to where we have a car fighting for the win in the end but should instead be moved out of the way via an earlier and clear penalty call?
“It didn’t seem like real life,” Reddick said. “I was like, what? I was waiting to see what was going to happen with that situation because I think I had Jim Pohlman say, hey, he’s probably going to get penalized. Well, dammit, Jim, like — Star Trek reference right there. He’s going to get penalized isn’t good enough. I need to know if — I didn’t know for sure if he was or wasn’t.
“Yeah, I was trying to race him as hard as I could, but I saw Austin Cindric was right there, and if you get battling side by side in certain sections of this racetrack, you can really hurt lap time on both drivers and allow third place to catch up. It was kind of a complex situation for a couple seconds there, but thankfully I was able to get momentum on Ross in a pretty convenient spot and make the pass for the lead and then check out from there.
What happens if he and Reddick both wreck going for the win like Hamlin and Briscoe did last year? It could have ruined another race winning moment by a driver penalized.
Terrible Day For HMS
Heading into COTA back in March, it was an early test to the Next Gen’s parity. We’ve seen it prior, but would it also end Hendrick Motorsports’ road course reign. Prior to COTA, HMS had accumulated 9 road course wins in the last 11 tries including being 1-2 on that very track in 2021. They’re since 0-for-4 with this new car on 4 different tracks?
They only qualified 8-22-23-28. They’d finish 16th (Chase Elliott), 31st (William Byron), 32nd (Alex Bowman) and 35th (Kyle Larson).
Elliott had a shot at it in the end before spinning. Byron had a strong day early and on the right strategy but had problems late. Bowman never had much while Larson struggled with early issues in falling 3 laps down early on and then crashed when his brakes failed.
This wasn’t an ideal day for HMS.
A year after leading 43 of the 95 laps they led 0 today and remain winless on road courses.
Chevy has won each of the 4 road course races in 2022 and the final 6 of 2021 for 10 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 14 wins in the last 15 road course races in general.