The road course at Indy brought the game of pinball to racing. The curbing installed for the infield turns took a beating from IndyCar to the NASCAR Xfinity race and, finally, tilted out during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race. Turn 5 threw cars off their line, into the air and even ripped the splitter and lower body panels off. Many cars were sacrificed… Few could predict the result.
The final restart put Denny Hamlin in place to get his first season win. Chase Briscoe, racing Hamlin for the lead, went wide and into the grass. As a result, he cut the turn coming back on course briefly in front of Hamlin. As Briscoe tucked in and chased on the tail of the #11, the #14 went in tight and clipped Hamlin’s bumper which put the Toyota off the track. This put Hamlin off the run for the win which was a sour note as Briscoe had been penalized with a pass through penalty for the cut course. Briscoe, unaware, kept racing the #11 which resulted in the off and spin for Hamlin.
As a result of the two up front cars out of it… Third place AJ Allmendinger was in the position to take and keep the lead for the win. Allmendinger is racing “full time” in the Xfinity series (currently 2nd in points) so his win in the Cup race does not put him in the Cup playoffs. However, due to finishing order at Indy and the points pay out, Denny Hamlin, even with the spin out, is still locked in the playoffs. Hamlin hasn’t won yet this season but his points were enough.
Two races remain in the “regular” season (Michigan and Daytona) which gets to the month of September and the playoffs, with Darlington, Richmond, Bristol and Vegas.
Michigan and Daytona will be the final shots to “win in” the playoffs. Hamlin is in with no wins but would still want to have that credential. Kevin Harvick has also been having an off season but is hanging on the line with points. He needs the win to secure his spot. All series drivers would benefit from a win as some are even looking for rides in 2022.
Kyle Larson is currently on top with 5 wins and continues to be the one to catch leading also top 5, top 10 and laps in front.
There is a lot on the line for “points only” drivers and those chasing a seat so the final regular season races are going to be hot ones.