What to Watch: 2022 Indy Road Course | NASCAR

2022-07-31 06:36:20 By : Mr. Eric Hua

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race on the Indy Road Course, the 22nd regular-season event of the 2022 campaign.

Where: Speedway, Indiana Approximate start time: 2:30 p.m. ET | Full weekend schedule TV/Radio: NBC, NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full TV schedule The purse: $8,671,417 Forecast: A 20% chance of showers after 2 p.m ET and mostly sunny, with a high near 82 degrees, according to NOAA.gov | Weather tracker Race distance: 82 laps | 200 miles Stages: 15 | 35 | 82 Pit-road speed: 40 mph Caution car speed: 45 mph Indy 101: Get the full lowdown Starting lineup: Reddick wins pole Pit stalls: Where drivers will pit UPDATE: Kurt Busch sidelined again at Indy

Key things to watch 🔑

There have been three races on road courses this season: Circuit of The Americas, Sonoma Raceway and Road America. Each of the races produced a driver winning their first race in the Cup Series and the respective crew chief getting their first series victory as well. For all the talk about the addition of two more ‘superspeedway-style’ races to the schedule with Atlanta Motor Speedway’s reconfiguration, road courses have been even more of a wild card than the big tracks. If Sunday’s first-time winner trend continues, there will only be one points position left in the playoff outlook. Even though there are five races remaining before the Round of 16 begins, expect Sunday’s race to have just the same playoff intensity. Will the usual road ringers shine?

Who’s hot? Who’s not? 

Returning to a road course is good news for Daniel Suárez and company, where he is a winner and has another top five in the last two starts on them. Suárez, and Trackhouse Racing in general, has blazed the way around road courses this season and been a contender at all three tracks. And now, with increased confidence stemming from four consecutive finishes of ninth or better at all tracks, the momentum might be enough to spur him onto the list of multi-time winners in 2022. Don’t count him out.

A home-track race on the schedule is the perfect time for a driver to make some noise in front of an increased amount of family and friends. That is the story line for Chase Briscoe this weekend as he looks to turn his season around. Though he has a win under his belt, the March 13 victory at Phoenix Raceway feels like a lifetime ago. The No. 14 team has seven consecutive finishes of 13th or worse and only four top 10s in 21 races this season. Briscoe’s performance on road courses has also not been ideal, with five finishes of 14th or worse in his last five starts. Good fortune may be back this time around, though, as Briscoe aims to kiss the hometown bricks. His 2021 battle with Denny Hamlin showed he has the skill and prowess to get it done.

At this point in the season, there is a pretty good understanding of who will run well where — but that doesn’t always mean they will be the favorites entering the weekend. Is anyone picking Chris Buescher to win the race at Indianapolis? Perhaps not many, but Buescher and the No. 17 RFK Racing group have been shining brightly on road courses lately, registering four consecutive road-course finishes inside the top six dating back to last year’s action on the Charlotte Roval. That is a statement, not a fluke. Look for them to be strong again this weekend, pushing hard to secure the win to vault them into the playoffs.

Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing won the Busch Light Pole Award on Saturday at the Indianapolis Road Course and will lead the field to green on Sunday. It was the California-born driver’s second career pole win and his first since May of 2021 at The Circuit of The Americas, which is also a road course. Team Penske also was strong during qualifying with all three of the its drivers placing in the top six in qualifying. Austin Cindric led the way and will start alongside Reddick on the front row. Meanwhile, Joey Logano was fifth and Ryan Blaney sixth. Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez, who have road-course wins at COTA and Sonoma Raceway, respectively, earlier this season both did not advance to the final round of qualifying. Chastain will start 21st and Suárez 11th. Full starting lineup | Practice results

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

• Paint Scheme Preview: Dazzling schemes for Indianapolis | Pick a favorite • Power Rankings: Christopher Bell holding steady, climbing board | Updated drivers rankings • NASCAR betting: Opening odds for Sunday’s race | Underdogs, value bets • Fantasy Fastlane: Will Chase Briscoe get redemption at Indy? | Top plays, sleepers • Bubble Watch: Which drivers are close to the cutline? | Read more

Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.

• Reddick wins pole: RCR driver to lead field to green on Sunday | Read more • Kyle Busch: Sleepless nights as contract talks stall | Read more • Erik Jones: Re-signs with Petty GMS Racing for multiple years | Read more • Pre-qualifying inspection: Kaulig Racing, Team Hezeberg lose members | Read more • L2 penalty: Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 team penalized, fined | More details • No. 24 fire: Team hauler caught on fire, everyone safe | Read more • Joe Gibbs Racing: Nos. 11, 18 crew chiefs talk about Pocono DQs | Read more • Race for the Championship: New Cup Series docuseries announced | Watch trailer • Frankie in the Fastlane: Actor Frankie Muniz details NASCAR aspirations | Read more • F1 crossover?: Ex-Formula 1 driver ready to make Cup Series debut | Read more • Historic partnership: 3CHI becomes NASCAR’s first hemp sponsor | More details • Debate: Does Ryan Blaney miss the playoffs? | Experts analyze • ICYMI: @nascarcasm finally shows his face | Watch the reveal

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.

• BetMGM: Public not sure first-time winner trend will continue | Read more • The Action Network: Is Cole Custer a good play? | Read more • Fantasy insight: Which drivers to avoid on Sunday | Learn more • Play it LIVE: Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ • Going all the way: 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

One of the most historic venues in motorsports, there is a lot of storied history. 

• Do you remember?: Memorable moments at Indianapolis | Scroll through the gallery • Inaugural road-course race: AJ Allmendinger wins the first Cup Series race on the layout | Full 2021 recap • Race Rewind: Top highlights, best moments from the 2021 race | Watch the highlights • Tension in 2021: Briscoe and Hamlin tangle on track, Allmendinger capitalizes | Watch highlights

Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

• All six stage winners on road courses in 2022 finished outside the top 10. • Stage two was caution free in five of the last seven road-course races, including all three in 2022. • AJ Allmendinger won in 2021, leading only the final two laps. • The race winner started in the top 10 in the last 11 races of 2022. • There have never been more than two cautions during stage one on a road course

Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.

• “I mean, even like all week I’ve just been excited to get back to Indy. Even when I got off the plane I felt like I was back home. Literally, as soon as my foot hit the ground I was like, ‘All right, it’s go time. We’re here.’ I’ve been waiting for this week all year long, so I think for sure there are butterflies every time you come here, but I tell everybody all the time if you grew up racing or in motorsports, you dream of getting to come to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to have the privilege for that to be your hometown track and come here as a kid watching races, to me, it just makes it even more special. I think every driver in the field this weekend will tell you it’s special to be able to be here, but when you grow up literally an hour away and came here all the time as a kid it just makes it even more special. I got to see my heroes run around this place and dreamed of being on the other side of the catch fence and now I’m the guy on the racetrack that people are here watching, so it’s definitely special.”  — Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

• “Indianapolis is a challenging and very unique racetrack. Hopefully, we can go there and be better than we were at Road America. I feel like we’ve gotten a little bit better at each road course so far this year. We definitely feel like we’re gaining on it, and we need to make another couple steps in the right direction to have a shot this weekend.” — Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

• “Being a part of Kaulig Racing’s first Cup Series win will always be so special to me. Heading back to Indy for the first time since then will be a surreal feeling. This is a place we have had circled on our calendar, and hopefully all the hard work will pay off.” — AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

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