Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN — August 13, 2023
Looking at this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series entry list, there are some names you don’t often see but are definitely well-known in the racing community – Shane van Gisbergen, Mike Rockenfeller, Kamui Kobayashi, Brodie Kostecki, Andy Lally, and Jenson Button are entered in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday.
Trackhouse Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen, the 34-year-old from Auckland, New Zealand, became a household name in American motorsports after grabbing the victory at the inaugural Chicago Street Race in his very first NASCAR Cup Series start. Gisbergen, with crew chief Darian Grubb will be back in the Trackhouse Project91 team. Gisbergen is a three-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion.
With just three races left in the regular season, the tensions are high for many of the competitors not locked into the Playoffs as the NASCAR Cup Series returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.
Rolling into this weekend at Indianapolis, three former NASCAR Cup Series champions – Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott, another eight former Playoff drivers – Michael McDowell, Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, Austin Cindric, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones, Austin Dillon, and Chase Briscoe, plus another three former Cup Series winners – Bubba Wallace, A.J. Allmendinger, and Justin Haley make up the 20-driver field of eligible competitors still looking for a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series 2023 Playoffs.
The Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is set to run 82 laps around the two-mile Indy Road course. Stages are 15/20/47 laps, and Daniel Suarez starts on the pole. Tyler Reddick sits beside Suarez in the front row.
Chase Elliott, who needs a win to make the playoffs, starts third, with Michael McDowell in fourth.
If the industry buzz is to be believed, this will be the last Cup Series race on the road course. A return to the oval is expected in 2024.
Daniel Suarez(99) won the drag race with Tyler Reddick(45) down the front stretch to take the lead into the first corner of the road course.
It did not take long for drivers to begin mixing it up. Joey Logano(22) and Justin Haley(31) banged doors sending Haley off the track and into a tire barrier lining a fence in the infield. Logano escaped with minimal damage. Haley suffered scrubbed paint on the left side of his car but drove away as the yellow flag waved.
On the restart, Logano got loose into turn one and spun around as the field drove past. Out front, Michael McDowell(34) took over the top spot. Also early in Stage One, Shane VanGisbergren(91) got into the rear bumper of Ty Gibbs(54), spinning Gibbs around.
Stage One Results
|9||91||Shane Van Gisbergen||2|
|10||19||Martin Truex Jr.||1|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
With no caution for the end of the Stage on a road course, pit stop strategies were all over the map. The leaders came to the pit road on lap 18. Other drivers drove past the midway point of the second Stage before making their visit to the pit road. Denny Hamlin(11) and Brad Keselowski(6) stayed out until the end of Stage Two.
The move gave Hamlin the Stage win. Keselowski was passed by McDowell and Suarez but still took home seven Stage points for fourth.
Stage Two Results
*Ford Mustang Drivers
The Final Stage
As soon as the Stage concluded, Hamlin and Keselowski both pitted. The leaders will likely come to pit road as soon as the fuel window to complete the race is reached. The top five were McDowell, Chase Elliott(9), Suarez, Kyle Busch(8), and Reddick.
Suarez put the bump and run move on Elliott to move up a position just before pit stops began on lap 34. Karma caught up with Suarez during his stop. The air hose for the front tire changer’s air gun got caught under the car when the jack dropped to move to the opposite side of the vehicle. They had to jack the car up again to free the hose and complete the stop.
The error cost the team two positions on the track. It also opened the door for Elliott to focus on closing the gap to McDowell in the top spot. While McDowell can still make the playoffs on points, Elliott needs the win to qualify for the postseason.
With ten laps to go, McDowell led Elliott by three seconds, and Suarez was another three seconds back. Reddick was shadowing the bumper of Suarez. Alex Bowman(48) ran fifth but was well behind the pace set by the lead group.
With two laps to go, Elliot had worked his way around the lapped traffic and cut the interval to a second and a half. However, McDowell was able to hold off the challenge. McDowell, one of the most likable drivers in the garage, has two career NASCAR Cup Series victories. One at Daytona, one at Indianapolis. Not bad.
Michael McDowell’s win locks him into the playoffs. Bubba Wallace sits on the bubble, 28 points up on Daniel Suarez. With two races left, another first-time 2023 winner at Watkins Glen will put extra pressure on Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski heading to Daytona. One of them could face elimination if, say, both Hendrick cars, Bowman and Elliott, win out.
|1||William Byron||726||In Win(4)|
|2||Martin Truex Jr.(Points Leader)||830||In Win(3)|
|3||Kyle Busch||660||In Win(3)|
|4||Denny Hamlin||770||In Win(2)|
|5||Kyle Larson||698||In Win(2)|
|6||Chris Buescher*||665||In Win(2)|
|7||Christopher Bell||709||In Win|
|8||Ross Chastain||676||In Win|
|9||Ryan Blaney*||666||In Win|
|10||Tyler Reddick||653||In Win|
|11||Joey Logano*||639||In Win|
|12||Michael McDowell*||542||In Win|
|13||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||542||In Win|
|NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line|
*Ford Mustang Drivers
Results of the Verizon 200 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
|Martin Truex Jr.||22.956||82|
|Shane Van Gisbergen||25.016||82|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||-1||81|