Allmendinger Emerges From Chaos to Win on Indy Road Course

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 15: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win 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)

A chaotic first visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road course Sunday for the NASCAR Cup series ended with a popular winner and a lot of hurt feelings.

Denny Hamlin led the field to green on the second attempt at an overtime finish, with rookie Chase Briscoe second. The two entered Turn 1 side by side with Briscoe on the outside. He was forced into the grass and slowed rejoining the field just behind Hamlin. Hamlin had a slight lead on the backstretch when Briscoe got into the back of Hamlin’s Toyota sending him spinning through the grass.

NASCAR had handed a stop and go penalty to Briscoe for cutting off Turn 1 and he slowed. Allmendinger who had been hovering in third took the lead and won by .929 over Ryan Blaney.

For Allmendinger, who competes fulltime in the Xfinity series and part time in Cup for Kaulig Racing, the win was the second of his Cup career, the first coming at Watkins Glen in 2014.

“I mean, it was survival of the fittest,” Allmendinger said. “We probably had like an eighth-, tenth-place car, sped on pit road. I thought we were going to finish 12th to 15th, and then those restarts were just insane. It’s great when you have a car owner that just says, ‘Go get me trophies’.”

Tyler Reddick, who won both Stages was third with Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott rounding out the top five.

The NASCAR Cup series first visit to the Indy road course featured airborne cars, torn up sheet metal and even an unplanned reconfiguration of the track late in the going.

As had been the case all weekend long most of the trouble occurred in Turns 5 and 6. The curbing heading into the S’s had sent cars into the air and caused several crashes in the races in both the IndyCar and Xfinity races on Saturday.

Larson, who won last week at Watkins Glen and was only hours removed from winning the World of Outlaws series Knoxville Nationals in Iowa, led a race high 28 laps. He looked to be cruising to victory until a caution for a piece of debris in Turn 6 on lap 72 erased an over four-second lead Larson had over his Hendrick teammate Elliott.

On the restart Martin Truex Jr. was sent spinning off of Turn 6 and into the wall. He was able to limp away from the scene and the green flag stayed out. On the very next lap however, the curb in turn 6 came loose causing Willam Byron, who had won the pole earlier in the day, and Joey Logano to get together and ended with Logano hard into a tire barrier. Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell, Daniel Suarez, and Ryan Preece were all also swept up in the accident.

NASCAR was forced to stop the race and removed what remined of one of the curbs at Turn 6 during the nearly 20-minute stoppage.

After a lengthy yellow flag for speedy dry on the track the first attempt at an overtime finish saw Michael McDowell sent airborne off the remaining curb at Turn 5 and collecting Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick in a seven-car incident. That incident also led to a brief red flag. That final red flag set up the final overtime finish with Allmendinger winning.

“That was an insane race,” Allmendinger said. “I can’t — the curbing, we were 17th with nine, eight to go, and I was like, all right, maybe we get a top 10, and luckily we’ve got a team owner that says trophy hunting. He doesn’t care if the car is wrecked, bring it back on the wrecker or you go win the race.

“Once I got close enough to the front, I’m like, well, I’m either going to win or I’m probably going to crash. That’s what it was all about.”

Matt DiBenedetto was fifth, Kurt Busch sixth, Erik Jones seventh, Justin Haley eighth. Saturday’s Xfinity series winner Austin Cindric was ninth, with Ryan Newman tenth.

With his third-place finish, and Hamlin’s 23rd place, Larson breaks a tie in the regular season standings and now leads Hamlin by 22 points.

“It was wild there at the end,” Larson said. “My car was extremely good.

“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.”

In the race for the final Playoff spot between Reddick and Dillon, with his stage sweep, Reddick gained a spot and leaves Indy 11th 28 points ahead of Dillon with Alex Bowman, who finished 17th, now occupying the final cutoff spot.

NASCAR heads to Michigan International Speedway for the penultimate regular season race next Sunday.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – AUGUST 15: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #16 Hyperice Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning 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)



NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Indianapolis, Indiana

Sunday, August 15, 2021

  1. (8)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 95.
  2. (16)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 95.
  3. (4)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 95.
  4. (3)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 95.
  5. (15)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 95.
  6. (20)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 95.
  7. (28)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 95.
  8. (29)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 95.
  9. (13)  Austin Cindric(i), Ford, 95.
  10. (32)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 95.
  11. (22)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 95.
  12. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 95.
  13. (27)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 95.
  14. (25)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 95.
  15. (6)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 95.
  16. (26)  Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet, 95.
  17. (24)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 95.
  18. (36)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 95.
  19. (18)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 95.
  20. (21)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 95.
  21. (11)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 95.
  22. (38)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 95.
  23. (14)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 95.
  24. (31)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 95.
  25. (10)  Cole Custer, Ford, 94.
  26. (2)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, Parked, 94.
  27. (40)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 94.
  28. (39)  Garrett Smithley(i), Ford, 94.
  29. (9)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 93.
  30. (12)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 88.
  31. (23)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 88.
  32. (34)  James Davison, Chevrolet, Accident, 80.
  33. (1)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 77.
  34. (7)  Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 77.
  35. (30)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Accident, 77.
  36. (17)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 77.
  37. (5)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, Accident, 77.
  38. (33)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Suspension, 68.
  39. (35)  Andy Lally(i), Ford, Rear Gear, 55.
  40. (37)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 46.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  69.171 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 59 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.929 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 25 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   W. Byron 1;C. Briscoe # 2-13;T. Reddick 14-16;M. McDowell 17;B. Keselowski 18-19;C. Elliott 20-33;T. Reddick 34-36;A. Dillon 37;K. Larson 38-54;D. Hamlin 55-62;M. DiBenedetto 63;K. Larson 64-74;D. Hamlin 75-93;*. Allmendinger(i) 94-95.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson 2 times for 28 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times for 27 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 14 laps; Chase Briscoe # 1 time for 12 laps; Tyler Reddick 2 times for 6 laps; * AJ Allmendinger(i) 1 time for 2 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 2 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron 1 time for 1 lap; Austin Dillon 1 time for 1 lap; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 8,34,3,43,37,2,47,77,14,9

Stage #2 Top Ten: 8,3,37,47,21,77,7,78,5,9

Greg Engle