NASCAR: Verizon 200 & Pennzoil 150 Indianapolis Race Previews

For the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series 72-year history, the series will compete at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in the inaugural Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on August 15 at 1 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course joins the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track and the Circuit of The Americas as the third different track the series has debuted at this season.

Can Kyle Larson win back-to-back road course races? Or will his teammate Chase Elliott, who excels on road courses, win the day? (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is a 14-turn asphalt paved road course that spans 2.439-mles and is located inside and a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course is the sixth of seven road course tracks on the Cup Series schedule this season – Daytona RC (won by Christopher Bell, 2/21), COTA (Chase Elliott, 5/23), Sonoma (Kyle Larson, 6/6), Road America (Chase Elliott, 7/4), Watkins Glen (Kyle Larson, 8/8), Indianapolis RC (8/15) and Charlotte ROVAL (10/10) – the most road courses ever in a single Cup season.

Chase Elliott could not catch his teammate Larson last weekend. Will he prevail on Sunday?

This weekend’s procedures at Indianapolis will be action packed, with practice and qualifying taking place over the weekend. This will be the seventh of eight race weekends this season with designated practice and qualifying.

Kyle Larson has a chance to enhance road course credentials at Indianapolis

As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to its second consecutive road course race—the series’ debut event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course—we have a challenge to Chase Elliott’s supremacy and a budding asphalt rivalry between two of the world’s best dirt-track racers.

Both involve Cup’s most prolific winner this season, Kyle Larson, who likely will factor in the finish of Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (1 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Larson already has two road course victories to his credit this season—in June at Sonoma and last Sunday at Watkins Glen International—matching Elliott for most in the series this year.

Though Elliott had the fastest car at Watkins Glen, he couldn’t overcome a penalty that sent him to the rear of the field for the start of the race. Elliott managed to overtake everyone but Larson, who arrived at the finish line 2.430 seconds ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and claimed his fifth victory of the season.

On his way to Victory Lane, Larson had a final-stage run-in with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell. With Bell running second and Larson third, the eventual race winner made a move to the inside of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota entering Turn 1.

Contact between the cars sent Bell spinning off the racing surface. He recovered to finish seventh, but the seeds of a rivalry were sown. In 2020, Larson ended Bell’s streak at three straight victories in the Chili Bowl Nationals for midget race cars. Last Sunday, he ended Bell’s chances of winning the Cup race at the Glen.

Larson tried to reach out to Bell after the event but was greeted with stone cold silence.

“I guess he’s not willing to talk to me, which is kind of whatever,” Larson told Dave Moody during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I think any other adult in the field would at least have a conversation with you, but he doesn’t care to.

“So we’ll move on from it, and if he wants to get me back, that’s fine… But I’m not going to worry about it. If it makes him sleep better at night to ignore me and then want to crash me or whatever, so be it.”

There’s a strong chance Larson, Bell and Elliott all will be in the mix for the win on Sunday, but that’s not to discount other drivers who have more experience on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course.

Chase Briscoe, who ran consistently in the top 10 and finished ninth at Watkins Glen, won last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Road Course. Austin Cindric, who is entered in Sunday’s race, came home fifth in that event, and Ross Chastain ran sixth.

In addition, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon will get a head start on the competition by running Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. With three races left in the regular season, Dillon is currently in a pitched battle against Richard Childress Racing teammate Tyler Reddick for the final Cup Playoff spot.

Reddick leads Dillon by 15 points for the 16th berth.

At the top end of the standings, Larson is tied with Denny Hamlin for first place, but Larson owns the tiebreaker with five victories to Hamlin’s none. The regular-season championship is worth 15 Playoff points to the winner, with second place worth 10 Playoff points.

Larson leads the series with 37 Playoff points. Hamlin has five, the result of stage wins during the first 23 races.

Sunday’s race marks the first time since 1964 and the fourth time overall that NASCAR has conducted back-to-back road course events.

Weekend Schedule


5:30 p.m. ET Practice
NBC Sports Live


10:05 a.m. ET Qualifying
NBC Gold TrackPass
NBC Sports Live
11:05 a.m. ET Practice
NBC Gold TrackPass
NBC Sports Live
4 p.m. ET Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard
NBC Sports Live
6:15 p.m. ET Press Pass (post-Xfinity race) Watch live


9 a.m. ET Qualifying
NBC Sports Live
1 p.m. ET Verizon 200 at the Brickyard
NBC Sports Live
4 p.m. ET Press Pass (post-Cup race) Watch live


Entry List

Drivers Lament loss of Brickyard 400

NASCAR’s upcoming weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has polarized both its drivers and its fans.

For 27 years, Cup Series drivers have raced around Indy’s iconic 2 1/2-mile oval for the right to kiss the bricks. This year, however, the race will take place on the track’s road course.

Out with the Brickyard 400, in with the Verizon 200.

So, how do drivers feel about the change? Some offered their thoughts ahead of the event.

Denny Hamlin, via Autoweek: “We lost a crown jewel. People hated the racing, but I don’t know, are they really going to get more people out to the road course than what they did for the Brickyard 400? I’m not sure.

“I don’t love it; I don’t love the move. It took away a crown jewel.”

Joey Logano, via FTW: “It doesn’t matter, nope. I don’t believe so. It’s Indy. It’s a race track that everyone in the world wants to win at — not just our country. It is a world-class facility, and everyone in the world wants to say they’ve won at Indy, whether it’s on the road course or on the oval, in a stock car or an Indy car or a tricycle. You want to say you’ve won at Indy, so I think that’s all it takes for me. I’ll still kiss the bricks at the end of it. It doesn’t matter.”

Kevin Harvick, via Autoweek: “For me, I grew up with a certain perception of how I wanted to race, and I just believe (for) with the biggest racing series in the country that when you go to the Brickyard, you race on the oval.”

Martin Truex Jr., via Autoweek: “I’m not going to throw up. I haven’t won two in a row there or whatever like (Harvick) has. That’s probably a little bit of that. It is a historic track, but I don’t know. I don’t really think about things like a lot of people. I’m looking forward to the road course and another opportunity to get a win.”

Brad Keselowski, via FTW: “I kind of go back and forth on that one. Some days yes, some days no. I still want to win it. I still want the trophy, but there’s something special about being on the oval track.?

Aric Almirola, via FTW: “It’s still Indy. You’re still going to Indy. You’re still gonna cross that yard of bricks. It’s still gonna be very special, but it’s not the oval. It’s not the track that all of the legends raced on in IndyCar and NASCAR and everybody that showed up for the Brickyard 400.

“That has always been a crown jewel event, and it still will be, but it’s definitely gonna be different being on the road course.”

Rare Occasion: Back-to-back road courses on the Cup schedule

For the first time in over 50 years the NASCAR Cup Series will compete on road courses in back-to-back races on the schedule. It is the fourth time the series has scheduled back-to-back road course events all-time.

The first was in the 1957 season (back when the NASCAR Cup Series started a season in the previous year), it has also happened on the same day also during the 1957 season and the third time it occurred in the Cup Series was when they ended the 1963 season at Riverside and started the 1964 season at Augusta.

Series Season Date Track Race Winner
Cup 1957 Sunday, December 30, 1956 Titusville-Cocoa Fireball Roberts
Cup 1957 Sunday, February 17, 1957 Daytona B&R Cotton Owens
Cup 1957 Sunday, August 4, 1957 Watkins Glen Buck Baker
Cup 1957 Sunday, August 4, 1957 Kitsap Parnelli Jones
Cup 1963 Sunday, November 3, 1963 Riverside Darel Dieringer
Cup 1964 Sunday, November 17, 1963 Augusta (RC) Fireball Roberts


Regular Season Championship: Larson ties Hamlin in points and takes standings lead with tiebreaker

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson snatched his 2021 season NASCAR Cup Series leading fifth victory from his competitors last weekend at Watkins Glen International and with it took the series standings lead by tying Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in points (917 points each) with just three races remaining in the regular season – Larson holds the points tiebreaker of most wins with five to Hamlin’s none.

But there are still three races left and a lot can happen. Both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson will be making their series track debuts this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. It will be the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has competed on the 2.439-mile road course configuration at Indianapolis.


Last weekend at Watkins Glen, Larson grabbed his fifth win of the season and second victory on a road course this year (Sonoma, Watkins Glen). Hamlin finished fifth at Watkins Glen, his 12th top-five finish of the season.

Looking ahead to the next two races after Indianapolis this points battle could come down to the regular season finale at Daytona to see who will take home the trophy and the 15 additional Playoff points.

Michigan International Speedway

Denny Hamlin has made 30 starts at the 2-mile highspeed oval posting two wins (2010, 2011), nine top fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 13.2.

Kyle Larson has made 12 starts at Michigan accumulating three wins (2016, 2017 sweep), five top fives and six top 10s. His average finish at the track is 12.4.

Daytona International Speedway

Denny Hamlin has made 31 starts at the ‘World Center of Racing’ grabbing three wins (all Daytona 500s – 2016, 2019, 2020), 11 top fives and 12 top 10s. His average finish at the track is 16.0.

Kyle Larson has made 14 starts at Daytona posting five top 10s. His average finish at the track is 21.1.

If Hamlin or Larson win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship, the winner will become just the fourth different driver in series history to win the prestigious award.

NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 2 Kyle Busch 2019, ’18
2 1 Kevin Harvick 2020
Martin Truex Jr. 2017


Clinch Scenarios: Three races to decide final few postseason spots

Only three races left in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season for the drivers to clinch their spot in the 2021 Playoffs. Following Watkins Glen International last weekend, 11 different drivers have clinched their spot in the postseason leaving five spots still mathematically eligible.

Already Clinched

The following 11 drivers have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Kyle Larson, William Byron, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Christopher Bell.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the second winless driver in the standings.

Denny Hamlin: Would clinch regardless of finish.

Can Clinch Via Previous Wins

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by previous winner or a win by Denny Hamlin:

Michael McDowell and Aric Almirola: Would clinch regardless of finish.

The following drivers could clinch on previous wins with a win by new winner:

Michael McDowell: Could only clinch with help.

Aric Almirola: Could only clinch if the new winner is Corey Lajoie or another driver even lower in the standings.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend:

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, Michael McDowell, Aric Almirola.

The following drivers could clinch with a win:

Chris Buescher: Could only clinch with help.

Matt DiBenedetto: Could only clinch with help.

Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help.

Road Course Kings: Elliott looks to tie Tony Stewart on road course wins list

When it comes to road racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott is instantly mentioned as one of the favorites to watch, and with good reason. Elliott has won six of the last eight road course races the NASCAR Cup Series has competed at.

With his latest foray into Victory Lane at Road America, Elliott locked up his seventh NASCAR Cup Series road course win and with it moved solely into third all-time on the Cup road course wins list, just one win shy of NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in second with eight road course victories. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most road course wins with nine.

All-Time Top Road Course Winners in the NASCAR Cup Series and the Tracks They Won At

Road Course Winners Total RC Wins Sonoma Watkins Glen Daytona RC Charlotte RC COTA Road America
Jeff Gordon 9 5 4 0 0 0 0
Tony Stewart 8 3 5 0 0 0 0
Chase Elliott 7 0 2 1 2 1 1

Seven of the 2020 series champion’s 13 career Cup wins have come on road courses – Watkins Glen 2018, 2019; Charlotte ROVAL 2019, 2020; Daytona Road Course 2020; Circuit of The Americas 2021; Road America 2021. Now Elliott looks to get his seventh road course win in his series track debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course this weekend – a feat the 25-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia has already championed, winning at COTA in his first appearance earlier this season. Elliott finished runner-up in last weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International.

Rookie Spotlight: Chase Briscoe might have an edge this weekend at Indianapolis

Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe is the only driver in the NASCAR Cup Series field attempting to qualify for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (1 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that has won a NASCAR national series race at the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The rising star from Mitchell, Indiana, took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race there in 2020 with a daring late race pass with just two laps to go.

Briscoe is one of just seven drivers entered this weekend in the Cup race that competed in the Xfinity Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2020. The other six drivers are Justin Haley (finished second in the Xfinity race), AJ Allmendinger (fourth), Austin Cindric (fifth), Ross Chastain (sixth), Anthony Alfredo (20th) and Josh Bilicki (23rd).

Briscoe churned up his third top-10 finish of the season last weekend at Watkins Glen International; interestingly, all three of his top 10s have come on road courses – COTA (sixth), Road America (sixth), WGI (ninth).

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR teams up with the NSTA – NASCAR and the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) announced this week the launch of a new science and STEM learning curriculum for K-8 science teachers across the United States. The racing-themed science lessons will be available free of charge to educators nationwide on

The collaboration between NASCAR and NSTA, the global leader in promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, is designed to arm educators with fun and engaging content and activities for teaching science and STEM. NASCAR and NSTA worked together to create a series of unique science lesson plans including lessons on aerodynamics, friction and motion, light, sound, and more.

“We are thrilled to partner with NSTA, a passionate community of science educators and professionals devoted to teaching and offering science resources to kids across the country,” said Pete Jung, Chief Marketing Officer, NASCAR. “This collaboration provides NASCAR an incredible opportunity to make an impact in science education while introducing new generations to the sport.”

Richmond Raceway to host Track Laps for Charity – Richmond Raceway will host a Track Laps for Charity presented by Toyota Richmond Area Dealers on Saturday, Aug. 14 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Track Laps for Charity offers fans the opportunity to drive their personal vehicles around Richmond Raceway for a donation of $20. All proceeds will benefit the USO Hampton Roads & Central Virginia and Richmond Raceway Cares.

“We are proud to continue our close partnership with Toyota Richmond Area Dealers for our upcoming Track Laps for Charity,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “Track Laps for Charity is a unique community event that showcases the on-track experience at America’s Premier Short Track while benefiting worthy causes in our community. We look forward to welcoming back fans to support the USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia and Richmond Raceway Cares.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Up Next: Left and right at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Youngster Ty Gibbs got it done again, taking home the victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International on Saturday. Gibbs, 18, led a race-high and career-best 43 of 82 laps and claimed his third win in 10 starts this season.

This weekend, the series heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, August 14 and 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


Last season, the Xfinity Series made its first trip to the Indianapolis Road Course. The road course is 2.439 miles and 14 turns. The series will kick off the weekend Saturday evening and the Cup Series will run the road course for the first time in history on Sunday.

In 2020, Indiana native Chase Briscoe won the inaugural race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course after starting from 12th. Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.

The 2020 race had 38 cars in the field with 13 lead changes and eight leaders. There were five cautions for 15 laps and only 27 cars finished on the lead lap. 35 cars were still running at the finish and Briscoe led 30 laps. The margin of victory was 1.717 seconds between Briscoe and Haley.

The Pennzoil 150 will be 151.22 miles and 62 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 20 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 40. This weekend will also include practice and qualifying leading into the race. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will practice at 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday, August 13 on NBCSN. Qualifying will take place on Saturday morning at 10:05 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App & Trackpass to set the starting lineup for the 4 p.m. ET race.

Ty Gibbs looks to make history at Indy Road Course

Grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, Ty Gibbs, can become just the second driver in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to win four races in his first 11 Xfinity career starts joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip (1982 Charlotte-2, 1983 Daytona-1, 1984 Daytona-1 and Charlotte-2). If Gibbs (Daytona RC, Charlotte and Watkins Glen) accomplishes the feat and wins this weekend at Indianapolis, both drivers will have won four races in their first 11 starts but Gibbs will be the only driver to have earned it all in a single season.

Drivers Wins NXS Career Starts
Darrell Waltrip 4 11
Butch Lindley 3 11
Dale Earnhardt 3 11
Ron Fellows 3 11
Ty Gibbs 3 10


Playoff Bubble: NASCAR Xfinity Series has six to go

With six races left in the regular season, let’s take a look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff clinch scenarios heading into this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, on Saturday, August 14 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. A win gets you in, but drivers must still clinch their spot-on points by accumulating enough points that even with a win they do not fall out of the top 30 and become ineligible for the Playoffs.

Already clinched:

The following four drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver Xfinity postseason field: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Jeb Burton. Burton clinched his spot at Watkins Glen International.

Can clinch via points at Indianapolis:

Myatt Snider could clinch with three points because of his previous win at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Can clinch via win at Indianapolis:

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst, Myatt Snider, Brandon Brown.

Ryan Sieg could clinch with a win and 54 points.

Clinching for Regular Season Championship:
Austin Cindric cannot clinch the regular season championship this weekend. Second-place has 769 points and can still reach 1,129 points. Cindric currently is 80 points up on second place AJ Allmendinger.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Watkins Glen:

Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 849 20 4 8 28 In On Wins
2 AJ Allmendinger 769 20 2 6 16
3 Justin Allgaier 693 20 2 1 11
4 Jeb Burton 624 20 1 0 5
5 Myatt Snider 448 20 1 0 5
6 Daniel Hemric 708 20 0 5 5 259
7 Harrison Burton 654 20 0 2 2 205
8 Justin Haley 610  19* 0 3 3 161
9 Noah Gragson 584 20 0 2 2 135
10 Brandon Jones 523 20 0 1 1 74
11 Jeremy Clements 489 20 0 0 0 40
12 Michael Annett 479 19* 0 0 0 30
13 Riley Herbst 449 20 0 0 0 -30
14 Brandon Brown 434 20 0 0 0 -45
15 Ryan Sieg 394 20 0 0 0 -85
16 Tommy Joe Martins 323 20 0 0 0 -1156


Sunoco Rookie Class Update: Berry still holding on

Josh Berry and Ty Gibbs have put on quite a show in the Xfinity Series during their rookie season. The two drivers, who are both running partial schedules, have consistently run up front – grabbing wins and making themselves a part of the mix. Last weekend at Watkins Glen was no different as Gibbs grabbed his third win in 10 starts. Berry didn’t compete at Watkins Glen.

But Berry has been able to hold off Gibbs in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings for several weeks. Berry has 397 points and six awards while Gibbs has seven awards but only 379 points. Ryan Vargas is in third with Jade Buford in fourth and Sam Mayer in fifth.

Berry has run in 16 of 20 Xfinity Series races run. Most recently, he covered for Michael Annett in the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and finished eighth. In total, Berry has one win, four top fives and nine top 10s.

Gibbs has only competed in 10 of 20 races. He now has three wins, eight top fives and eight top 10s to his name. Gibbs will be back behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings
Rookies Points Awards
Josh Berry 397 6
Ty Gibbs 379 7
Ryan Vargas 193 4
Jade Buford 145 1
Sam Mayer 82 1


Making History: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers to compete at Indianapolis

On Saturday, history will be made in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for two NASCAR Whelen Euro Series up and coming drivers.

EuroNASCAR PRO driver Giorgio Maggi will pilot the No. 42 MBM Motorsports Toyota in his Xfinity Series debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course event. He will join Loris Hezemans, the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series champion, who will be making his third Xfinity Series start this season.

The two will make history as the first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers to compete in the same NASCAR national series race in the United States. They are also teammates at Hendriks Motorsport in Europe.

Maggi, 23, is eighth in points in the Euro NASCAR PRO. He is a native of Hergiswil and will become the first Swiss driver to join a national NASCAR series in the United States. He joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2019 after taking part in the Recruitment Day. He finished in second in the points standings in his EuroNASCAR 2 rookie season with three wins. He moved up to EuroNASCAR PRO in 2020 and got his first ever post and podium finish at Automotodrom Grobnik. So far in 2021, he already has one top five and three top-10 finishes.

Hezemans will make his fourth Xfinity Series start on Saturday with his teammate. Hezemans will pilot the Reaume Brothers Racing No. 33 Toyota. His first ever Xfinity Series start was in 2019 at Road America for BJ McLeod Motorsports. He started 24th and finished 22nd.