NASCAR News & Notes: NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course & Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park

Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex looking north. West 16th Street is in the foreground aerial view. 2016 photo. By tpsdave, CC0, https commons.wikimedia.org

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

The Date: Sunday, July 31

The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $8,671,417

TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 199.998 miles (82 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 35), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 82)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard

The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

The Date: Saturday, July 30

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $1,750,651

TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: IMS, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 151.22 miles (62 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 62)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: TSport 200

The Place: Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park

The Date: Friday, July 29

The Time: 9 p.m. ET

The Purse: $622,754

TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 137.2 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

For the second consecutive season, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of an action-packed tripleheader weekend with the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (on Saturday, July 30).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has existed since 1909, and is considered the original “Speedway”, the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name. With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was completed in 2000 and it incorporates part of the famous four-turn oval. The original length upon completion of the road course measured 2.605-miles. In 2008, and again in 2014, the road course layout was modified to improve competition. This weekend’s event will compete on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile paved version of the road course.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval) was August 6, 1994. Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) won the inaugural event at the 2.5-mile speedway. The NASCAR Cup Series made its historical debut on the 14-Turn, 2.439-mile asphalt paved road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season with 40 competitors battling it out for 200 miles (82 laps). It was Kaulig Racing’s road course ace, A.J. Allmendinger, who knabbed the checkered flag in the event, by passing Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and leading just the final two laps en route to the victory.  

The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was filled with competitive excitement, producing 13 lead changes among 11 different leaders. But it was Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson (28 laps led) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (27 laps led) who commanded the lion’s share of the laps led in the event.

This weekend’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is scheduled for 82 total laps and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 15 laps, the second will be 20 laps and the final stage will be 47 laps. All the on-track NASCAR Cup Series activity will begin with practice on Saturday from 9:35 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. ET, directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 10:35 a.m. ET. Both events will be televised on the USA Network at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger looks to ‘Kiss the Bricks’ once again

Last season, A.J. Allmendinger delivered the Kaulig Racing organization its first NASCAR Cup Series victory in a stunning run to the finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

“That was an insane race!” exclaimed Allmendinger when he climbed from the No. 16 Chevrolet at Indianapolis last season. “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.”

The impressive run yielded A.J. Allmendinger his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory (Watkins Glen 2014, Indianapolis RC 2021). Now the 40-year-old veteran shuffles back into the hallowed grounds that is Indianapolis Motor Speedway looking for a second chance to ‘Kiss the Bricks’ this weekend.

Allmendinger, currently a fulltime NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor, leads the Xfinity Series driver standings heading into this weekend at Indianapolis, and will be pulling double duty competing on both Saturday and Sunday.

This season, Allmendinger has run a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Cup Series, sharing the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet with Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson. In total, the California native, Allmendinger, has made 10 Cup Series starts this season posting two top-10 finishes.

Playoff Bubble: Five to go in the NASCAR Cup Series regular season

Another repeat winner last weekend at Pocono Raceway is another chance passed for a new driver to earn their way into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs this season by victory. With just five races remaining in the regular season and 14 drivers already visiting Victory Lane this year, only two spots are still up for grabs on points and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney (+105 points above the cutoff) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (+83 points above the cutoff) have a firm grasp on those positions. Though mathematically possible to make run on points to catch Blaney and Truex in these last five races, a win would be much easier to seal the deal.

Of the drivers looking for their first win of the season, three finished inside the top 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course last year; including Ryan Blaney’s runner-up finish, Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones’ seventh-place finish and Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley’s eighth-place finish.

On the Playoff bubble hot seat for the second consecutive week, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. can certainly feel the pressure to secure his spot in the Playoffs in the last and final transfer spot on points with five races still remaining in the regular season. Truex is currently 83 points up on Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in 17th in the Playoff outlook driver standings. But with four previous Cup Series road course wins in his career, the New Jersey native would prefer to get his fifth road course victory this weekend and earn his spot in the Playoffs. Truex finished 15th at the Indianapolis Road Course last season.    

Elliott’s fourth win of the season opens up his standings lead

With Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain (second in the series standings) being caught in an incident and finishing 32nd, plus Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch getting the double post-race DQ awarding Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott the win at Pocono Raceway, the Georgia native’s NASCAR Cup Series driver standings lead has ballooned to 105 points over second and now the 2022 regular season title is in sight.

Elliott is currently riding the best five-race window of success in his NASCAR Cup Series career, posting an average finish of 1.4 and finishing first or second in the each of the last five Cup Series events.

Just five races remain in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series regular season and Chase Elliott looks poised to become the fifth different driver to win the Regular Season Championship; joining Kyle Larson (2021), Kevin Harvick (2020), Kyle Busch (2018, 2019) and Martin Truex Jr. (2017). Securing the NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship not only brings prestige, but also 15 bonus Playoff points which would elevate Elliott’s Playoff points total from the current series leading 25, to a massive mountain-like 40 Playoff points.

Looking to this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Elliott will attempt to build on his strong performance from last season, where he started third and led 14 laps en route to a fourth-place finish.  

Chase Elliott is currently third on the NASCAR Cup Series all-time road course wins list with seven road course victories, behind NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon (nine road course wins) and Tony Stewart (eight road course wins).   

Active road course aces this weekend to watch

Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick outdueled Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott at Road America, the last road course the NASCAR Cup Series visited on July 3, to get his first career series win and become the 14th active road course winner entered this weekend to compete in Sunday’s (July 31) Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the 2.349-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

One to watch in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, was last weekend’s Pocono Raceway winner and Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott as he looks to retake his crown as the active road course king this weekend. Elliott leads the 14 active Cup Series road course winners with seven victories on tracks that turn left and right. Expect Elliott to be upfront again this weekend as in last season’s Indianapolis Road Course race, he started third and led 14 laps before finishing fourth. Plus, he has the second-best average finish on the three road courses the NASCAR Cup Series has already visited this season with a 4.6; behind only Trackhouse Racing’s Ross Chastain with a 4.0.

Another former road course winner having a great season this year, despite some bad luck last weekend at Pocono, is Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney; currently third in the series’ driver standings, but without win is 15th on the Playoff outlook heading into this weekend at Indianapolis. Blaney finished runner-up to A.J. Allmendinger in last season’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course Cup race and his lone road course win in the NASCAR Cup Series came at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL – another road course that incorporates the oval of the track in its layout like Indianapolis. And on top of all that, Blaney has the fourth-best average finish on the three road courses the Cup Series has visited already this season with a 7.6.

Or will the fans get to see another new winner this weekend? With a series record five new winners this season, it could happen. The first three road course races this year have already produced three first-time NASCAR Cup Series winners – Circuit of the Americas, Ross Chastain; Sonoma Raceway, Daniel Suárez; and Road America, Tyler Reddick.

Ten of the 38 drivers entered this weekend are looking for their for first career NASCAR Cup Series victory – (in alphabetical order) Josh Bilicki, Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Todd Gilliland, Joey Hand, Loris Hezemans, Daniil Kvyat, Corey LaJoie, BJ McLeod and Cody Ware.

In addition, seven drivers that visited Victory Lane in the NASCAR Cup Series last season are still looking for their first win of 2022 – A.J. Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Martin Truex Jr., Michael McDowell and Ryan Blaney.  

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Team Hezeberg taps Daniil Kvyat for Indianapolis Road Course – Former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat will attempt to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The Team Hezeberg organization will have the 26-yeard-old from Ufa, Russia, pilot the No. 26 Ford this weekend alongside crew chief Josh Reaume.

Kvyat is a product of the Red Bull program, he raced from 2014-‘20 with Toro Rosso, Red Bull and AlphaTauri.

Team Hezeberg will attempt for the first time in its brief history to field two cars this weekend in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, Kvyat will be in the No. 26 Ford and Loris Hezemans will be in the No. 27 Toyota.

Elliott, Larson, Hamlin tied for series-most wins since 2020 – Since the start of the 2020 season, 24 different drivers have won at least one NASCAR Cup Series race, but three drivers, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin, are tied for the series-most wins with 11 victories each – totaling 33 of the 93 races run (35.4%).

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

Denny Hamlin vs. Ross Chastain

What an adventurous Sunday it was for these rivals that have traded paint the whole season. Two of the best cars once again, they found themselves next to each other on the front row with 21 laps to go in the race. Hamlin, who had promised revenge for Chastain, gave him no room heading into Turn 1, causing Chastain to be sent up the track, into the wall and ultimately wrecking out of the race. Though Hamlin crossed the finish line first, both him and Kyle Busch’s cars were DQ’d, resulting in another Chase Elliott win. This week at Indianapolis, we’ll see if Hamlin and Chastain will duel once again as both are former road course winners.  

Chase Elliott vs. Kyle Larson

Widely regarded as the two best road course ringers in the NASCAR Cup Series, Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson both finished in the top-five last year at Indianapolis in a race that A.J. Allmendinger ultimately won. For two guys that combined to win five of the seven road course tracks last year, neither have picked up a win at a road course this year. Co-favorites for every road course thus far, will Indianapolis be the place that one of these two gets Hendrick back to Victory Lane on a road course?

Martin Truex Jr. vs. Chase Briscoe

This matchup sets up for a battle of the strategies this week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Martin Truex Jr. is without a win this year, and with 14 different winners, it’s becoming increasingly likely that he will have to reach Victory Lane to make the Playoffs. Regarded as a particularly good road course driver, Truex hasn’t won at a road course since his 2019 Sonoma win. Chase Briscoe yet to win on a road course since joining the NASCAR Cup Series but won at the Indianapolis Road Course in 2020 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. While Truex needs a win, Briscoe needs points. This matchup may come down to pit strategy near the end of stages.

Tyler Reddick vs. Ryan Blaney

Much like the previous matchup, Tyler Reddick vs. Ryan Blaney is a matter of stage points and wins. Reddick, who won the last road course race at Road America, is near the bottom of the cutline for drivers who have a win. If there are more than 16 winners this year, Reddick may be in jeopardy of missing out on the Playoffs. Like Reddick, Blaney is in danger of missing out on the Playoffs even though he sits third in the standings. Needing a win to lock himself into the postseason, Blaney will be looking forward to Indianapolis. Both drivers are capable of winning this weekend, but will Reddick opt for stage points instead of track position?

Hamlin to reach 600 NASCAR Cup Series starts – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will make his 600th NASCAR Cup Series career start this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course becoming the 33rd different driver to make 600 or more starts in the series.

Hamlin will also become the sixth active driver to make 600 or more starts in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining Kurt Busch (776 starts), Kevin Harvick (775), Kyle Busch (627) and Martin Truex Jr. (606).

Hamlin made his first NASCAR Cup Series start in 2005 at Kansas Speedway. In 599 starts, Hamlin has collected 36 poles, 48 wins (most by a driver without a title), 201 top fives and 310 top 10s.

Stenhouse Jr. to reach 350 NASCAR Cup Series starts – JTG Daugherty Racing’s driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make his 350th NASCAR Cup Series career start this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

Stenhouse Jr., a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, has put up three poles, two wins, 20 top fives and 45 top 10s in 349 NASCAR Cup Series starts.  

NASCAR Xfinity Series

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

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be taking on their fourth road course of the season this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, July 30 at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90) as the second event of a tripleheader weekend with the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Cup Series.  

The Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard this weekend will be the third Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. The previous two races have produced two different winners – Chase Briscoe (2020) and Austin Cindric (2021) and one pole winner – A.J. Allmendinger (2021). Qualifying was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Although Cindric is not entered in this weekend’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard to defend his 2021 win, Briscoe will be behind the wheel of the No. 07 SS Greenlight Racing Ford in hopes of becoming the track’s first repeat winner. 

One driver looking to give Briscoe a run for his money this weekend is the NASCAR Xfinity Series winningest driver on road courses, Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger, who won the pole and went on to post a runner-up finish in the Xfinity Series race before going on to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course last season.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will first fire-up the engines this weekend with practice at 3:01 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 3:31 p.m. ET on USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports app.

Ty Gibbs makes unexpected Cup Series debut at Pocono, will do it again at Indianapolis

With eight wins, 17 top fives and 21 top 10s in Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs’ 37 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, there was a lot of speculation on when the 19-year-old driver would make his NASCAR Cup Series debut, but everyone got their answer last weekend after the driver of the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota, Kurt Busch, was not cleared to run in Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono Raceway following an incident during Busch Light Pole Qualifying and Gibbs was asked to fill in.

Gibbs was coming off a runner-up finish in his Xfinity Series race last Saturday and had to quickly shift gears to prepare for his first-ever Cup Series start. Although his only prior experience in a Cup Series car was on a simulator, he stayed out of trouble, completed all 160 laps, and pulled off a 16th-place finish.

“It’s a learning day. I felt like I learned a lot,” said Gibbs following his Cup Series debut at Pocono. “I’m very thankful. It was close to almost a top 15. It was fun racing with Brad (Keselowski). Never thought I’d race with these guys. It was just cool being next to them on the track. So, to 10-year-old Ty, that means a lot.”

With confidence of a solid Cup start in his back pocket, Gibbs now turns his attention to this weekend’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course where he will be asked again to fill in for Busch in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota. The team made the following official announcement on Thursday, July 27.

“Following evaluations this week to gain medical clearance after his wreck at Pocono Raceway last weekend, Busch has not been cleared by the NASCAR medical team to return to competition this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Ty Gibbs will once again fill in for Busch in the No. 45 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD. Kurt’s health is of the utmost concern to the team, and we wish him all the best for a speedy return. Kurt Busch has been granted a medical waiver from NASCAR and remains eligible for the Playoffs. The team will not be making any further comments about the matter at this time.”

The North Carolina native, Gibbs, made his Xfinity Series track debut at the Indianapolis Road Course last season when he started fifth but finished 19th.

Gibbs currently leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series with four wins this season, the most recent on a road course – Road America on July 2. He also has Xfinity wins at the Daytona Road Course (2021) and Watkins Glen (2021).

Playoff Picture: Seven races to go, five postseason spots still open

The NASCAR Xfinity Series has had repeat winners in Victory Lane for seven consecutive weeks and as a result the pressure to make the Playoffs with seven races to go is palpable. Time is running out for the competitors vying for one of the five remaining postseason spots, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs start at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 24.

Seven drivers have already earned a spot in the 12-driver Playoff field by virtue of their wins this season – Ty Gibbs (four wins), Justin Allgaier (three), Noah Gragson (three), AJ Allmendinger (two), Josh Berry (two), Austin Hill (two) and Brandon Jones (one).

JR Motorsport’s driver Sam Mayer sits in the eighth position in the Xfinity Series Playoff outlook, the highest ranked driver without a win. Mayer is currently 139 points above the postseason cutline. This season, Mayer has posted eight top fives and 10 top 10s and is coming off a sixth-place finish last weekend at Pocono Raceway. He’ll be going into this weekend’s race looking for redemption after falling victim to an incident in last season’s Indianapolis race that relegated him to a 27th-place finish.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst takes the ninth position the Xfinity Series Playoff outlook standings, 114 points above the cutline following Pocono and goes into this weekend’s race with a top-10 finish at the Indianapolis Road Course (2021). Although road courses haven’t been his strong suit this season (aside from a top-10 finish at Road America), he’s posted five top fives and 12 top 10s this season.

Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric slides in at 10th in the Xfinity Series Playoff outlook and sits with 93 points up on the Playoff cutoff. The defending series champion has put up two top fives and eight top 10s this season. The Kannapolis, North Carolina native, made his series track debut at the Indianapolis Road Course and posted a 12th-place finish.

RSS Racing’s driver Ryan Sieg has managed to hold on to the 11th position on the Xfinity Series Playoff outlook, one of the last two positions to earn a spot in the postseason on points. Sieg is currently 57 points up on the postseason cutline heading into this weekend at Indianapolis. The Georgia native has made two series starts at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course posting a best finish of 17th (2020).

Kaulig Racing’s Landon Cassill, though hanging onto the 12th and final Playoff transfer position on points, is having the best NASCAR Xfinity Series season of his career. Cassill is currently 47 points up on the Playoff cutline. In 19 starts this season, he has posted three top fives and eight top 10s. Cassill has one start under his belt at the Indianapolis Road Course (2021) and worked his way up to a 17th-place finish after starting in the 33rd position.

Following the race in New Hampshire, Brandonbilt Motorsports’ Brandon Brown was sitting just outside the Playoff cutoff in 13th, but Richard Childress Racing’s rookie Sheldon Creed has been on a run these last few races making up points and taking the spot. Creed finished fifth at Pocono and is now 47 points back from Kaulig Racing’s Landon Cassill heading into this weekend. Brown is now 14th in the Xfinity Series Playoff outlook, 66 points below the postseason cutline. Creed will look to close the gap this weekend on Cassill but will have his work cut for him as this will be his series track debut at the 2.439-mile course.  

Level Up: The more Cup contenders the merrier

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course seems to be a popular circuit amongst drivers as six NASCAR Cup Series regulars are entered to run double duty this weekend – Chase Briscoe, Ty Dillon, Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain.

Briscoe will be looking for another Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course win in the No. 07  SS Greenlight Racing Ford. This will be his first Xfinity Series start of 2022 and his second start at the track where he won back in 2020.

Ty Dillon will be joining the JD Motorsports team in the No. 6 Chevrolet. This will be his third Xfinity Series start in 2022 (other starts were at Road America and New Hampshire) and his first at the track. Dillon’s lone Xfinity Series career win came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval) in 2014.

Alex Bowman will be behind the wheel of the No. 17 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for his first Xfinity Series start since 2018. Hendrick Motorsports is running a part-time schedule this season with the No. 17. Bowman has yet to give the Indianapolis Road Course a go in the Xfinity Series, but he does have one start in the Cup Series where he finished 17th.

Bubba Wallace will be piloting the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for his second road course Xfinity Series start this season; his other start was earlier this season at COTA where he finished 28th. This will be his first Xfinity Series start at the Indianapolis Road Course but last season, he gave the circuit a go in the Cup Series and finished 13th after starting in the 27th position.

Austin Dillon will be driving the No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet for this weekend’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard. This will be his second Xfinity Series start of 2022 and his second at the track – he finished sixth in last season’s race.

Ross Chastain will be in the No. 92 DGM Racing Chevrolet for his second Xfinity Series start of the season, after running at COTA in March. He has one Xfinity start at the Indianapolis Road Course where he finished in sixth (2020).

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Xfinity Drivers running double duty in Indianapolis – Aside from the six NASCAR Cup Series competitors that are getting two races in this weekend, a couple other drivers are getting a little extra track time this weekend as well – A.J. Allmendinger and Kaz Grala.

Allmendinger will hop into the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet on Sunday after running in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard for his 11th Cup Series start this season. In his 10 starts thus far, he has posted two top 10s, one of which was on a road course (Road America).

Grala will kick off his weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park driving the No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, then make his way over to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course to drive the No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This will be his sixth Xfinity Series start of 2022.

Back to the beginning – Two drivers have made their first NASCAR Xfinity Series career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course – Jade Buford and Sage Karam. While Buford won’t be competing in any NASCAR national series races this weekend, Karam, an NTT IndyCar and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver, will be back at his debut track in the No. 45 Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet for his sixth Xfinity Series start of the season. His best finish this season was 16th, which was at COTA’s road course in Austin.

Santino Ferrucci on stand-by for Josef Newgarden– Santino Ferrucci has made one Xfinity Series start this season (Pocono) and is entered in this weekend’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard with the No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Ford, but that is not all he has on his schedule this weekend.

Aside from his Xfinity Series responsibilities, Ferrucci will also be on stand-by for two-time NTT IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden. The 31-year-old driver had to go to the hospital following a race at Iowa Speedway on Sunday and has not yet been cleared to compete this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Per IndyCar protocol, Newgarden will be reevaluated on Thursday.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Camping World Truck Series Playoffs begin at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park

After Chandler Smith’s victory at Pocono Raceway this past weekend, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs are set to get underway at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for the TSport 200 on July 29th at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

The 2022 season will mark the seventh running of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2016-2022). Since the inception of the new format in 2016, six different drivers have hoisted the championship trophy – Johnny Sauter (2016), Christopher Bell (2017), Brett Moffitt (2018), Matt Crafton (2019), Sheldon Creed (2020), and Ben Rhodes (2021).

The structure of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs will remain the same as years past: a seven-race, three round elimination format. The Camping World Truck Series will cap off their season in conjunction with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway for the Championship 4 Finale.

Characteristics of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff format include:

o   The number of championship drivers in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship will decrease after every three Playoff races, from 10 to start in the Playoffs; eight after race No. 3; and four after race No. 6.

o   The first three races of the Playoffs (17-19) will be known as the Round of 10; races 20-22 will be known as the Round of 8; and race No. 23 will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship (Championship 4 Round).

o   A win by a championship-eligible driver in any Playoff race automatically clinches the winning driver a spot in the next round.

o   Four drivers will enter the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship with a chance at the title, with the highest finisher among those four capturing the championship.

 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Structure:

o   Round of 10: The first round (races 17-19), called the Round of 10, consists of the races at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Richmond Raceway, and Kansas Speedway. If a driver in the Playoffs wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Round of 8). The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each advancing Playoff contender will then have their points reset to 3,000, plus any Playoff points awarded to that point are added.

o   Round of 8: The second round (races 20-22), called the Round of 8, consists of the races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. Likewise, if a driver in the top eight in points wins a race in this round, the driver automatically advances to the next round (Championship 4). The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points. Each advancing Playoff contender will then have their points reset to 4,000.

o   Each eliminated driver will return to the Playoff-start base of 2,000 (plus any awarded Playoff points), with their accumulated points starting with race No. 17 added. This will allow all drivers not in contention for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title to continue to race for the best possible season-long standing, with final positions fifth-through-10th still up for grabs.

Championship Race

o   Championship 4 Round: The 23rd and final race of the season will be the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Simply stated, the highest finisher in that race among the remaining four eligible drivers will win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title.

  • Stage Playoff points will not apply in the season finale, so the official finishing position alone will decide the champion.
  • Note: All rules outlined above also apply to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner championship structure.

Round of 10: Playoff Race #1: Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park

Kicking off the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Playoffs this season will be Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park with the TSport 200 on July 29 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

For the first time since 2011, the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series will be returning to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. And for the first time ever, the track will play host to a Playoff race. With their date launching the Round 10, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park becomes the fifth different track since 2016 to open the Playoffs, along with New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2016, 2017), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (2018), Bristol Motor Speedway (2019, 2020), and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (2021).

The Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park houses a 0.68-mile paved oval, and the facility is located in Clermont, Indiana. Since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ inception in 1995, the track has hosted 17 series races. In that span, the 17 races have produced 12 different pole winners and 12 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park with four victories (1997, 2007, 2009, 2010). 

The inaugural series race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1995 was won by Mike Skinner of Richard Childress Racing, who would also go on to win the championship that same year. The most recent Camping World Truck Series race at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park came in 2011, where Timothy Peters took the checkered flag for Red Horse Racing.

Coming back to the track for the first time in 11 years, Matt Crafton (11 starts), Johnny Sauter (four starts) and Parker Kligerman (one start) are the only three drivers with any prior experience in the Truck Series at the facility entered this weekend.

Across the 17 races at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series, only twice has the winner came from a starting position outside of the top five (Timothy Peters who started 16th in 2011 and Johnny Benson Jr. who started eighth in 2008). In addition, the pole winner has gone on to win five of the 17 Truck Series races, and eight times has the winner started on the front row. Cometic Gaskets Pole Qualifying will surely be key for drivers looking to get a win on Friday, particularly the 10 who begin their Playoff run for the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series championship.

The on-track activity for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will begin with practice on Friday, July 29 at 10:35 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying later in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET (on FS1).  

Scouting the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs roster

The field for the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Playoffs is packed with talent hoping to carry them to the title after the next seven races. Throughout the 10 drivers that qualified for the postseason, six different teams are represented along with all three of NASCAR’s OEMs (Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota). Below is a quick look at the contenders in this year’s Playoff grid heading into the first race of the postseason at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The 2022 NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Regular Season Champion Zane Smith enters the Playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 2,037 points to his name, up 17 points on Chandler Smith in second place. This season marks the first time the Front Row Motorsports driver has won the Regular Season Championship and the third time he has competed in the series Playoffs. His two prior postseason appearances ended with him making the Championship 4 Round and finishing runner-up in the standings (2020 and 2021). Smith undoubtedly feels confident moving into the Round of 10.

“I think this first round is a really good one for us,” said Smith in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Media Playoffs Day on Tuesday. “With IRP. … Richmond at night should be a really good one, and Kansas in the beginning of the year was really strong for us. So hopefully, we can have a good round there, collect a lot of points and then it resets again going into the following round.”

Coming into the Playoffs as the No. 2 seed is Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Chandler Smith. He carries 2,022 points into the Round of 10, only 17 points behind Zane Smith in first. This will be just the second time he has competed in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Playoffs in his career after being eliminated in the Round of 8 in 2021 finishing eighth in the final standings. No other driver in the Playoffs may be looking forward to this weekend’s race more than Chandler Smith.

“I’ve been there three times in the ARCA Menard’s Series, won twice…really looking forward to it,” said Chandler Smith.

Ben Rhodes of ThorSport Racing enters the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs as the No. 3 seed. The 2021 Camping World Trucks Series Champion starts his postseason off with 2,017 points, just five back from Chandler Smith in second. Along with his title winning season last year, Rhodes has competed in the Playoffs three other times before then in 2017, 2018, and 2020, finishing fifth, eighth, and seventh, respectively. Coming off winning the title last year. Rhodes is much more aware of what it takes to win the championship.

“I just feel like I got a better clarity of what’s going on around me,” says the reigning champion Rhodes. “The confidence from last year has allowed me, and my whole team really, to stay calm, cool, and collected knowing, while the races haven’t been going the way we want, we’re still right where we need to be.”

Last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Regular Season Champion John Hunter Nemechek comes into the 2022 series Playoffs as the No. 4 seed. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has a point total of 2,016, only one point behind Ben Rhodes in third. This season will mark the fourth time Nemechek has competed in the Truck Series Playoffs, finishing eighth in back-to-back years in 2016 and 2017 along with a third-place final standing in 2021. Nemechek is taking a much different approach this year compared to 2021.

“It’s definitely different than last year, “he stated during Camping World Truck Series Playoff Media Day. “I feel like we had more of a dominant season last year. This year we’re kind of heading under the radar a little bit. So, different mindset, different perspective, but excited to get the Playoffs started and go and capitalize.”

Stewart Friesen of Halmar Friesen Racing enters the 2022 postseason as the No. 5 seed. Friesen holds 2,013 points to his name, just four points shy of John Hunter Nemechek in fourth. The Canadian driver, Friesen, has made three prior appearances in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (2018-2019, 2021), including a trip to the Championship 4 Round in 2019, where he earned his best career finish in the final standings (fourth). This time around, Friesen feels a lot more comfortable heading into the Playoffs this year as opposed to 2021.

“We’re seeded a little bit better than we were last year,” Friesen mentioned. “I feel like we’re a little bit more racing on offense than we were on defense as in years past. … We have some really good trucks that we’ve lined up with for the Playoffs and I’m looking forward to running them.”

ThorSport Racing’s Christian Eckes starts the 2022 postseason as the No. 6 seed. Eckes has garnered 2,007 points, six back of Friesen and 30 behind Zane Smith in the Playoff standings lead. Eckes only has one other appearance in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Playoffs, coming in 2020 during his only other full-time season in the series. He ended that year (2020) eighth in standings.

Also coming from the ThorSport Racing camp is Ty Majeski, who comes into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs ranked as the No. 7 seed. Majeski enters the postseason with a total of 2,006 points, only one less than Eckes in sixth. The 2022 season marks the first-time he will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Playoffs along with it being the first time he has ran a full season.

Niece Motorsport’s Carson Hocevar enters the Playoffs as the No. 8 seed. The second-year driver carries 2,005 points into the postseason, only a point shy of Majeski in seventh. Hocevar’s last Playoff run came last year during his rookie season. At only 18 years old, he finished last year 10th in the standings. When asked if there was a particular race he feels he could snag a win for Niece Motorsports in the Playoffs, Hocevar stated, “I feel like Lucas Oil is a good one to start. I’ve been there before a handful of times (in ARCA). I feel like we’re fast wherever we go, and we have a really good shot this weekend.”

Returning GMS Racing driver Grant Enfinger comes into this year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series postseason ranked ninth in the seeding. With 2,002 points, he trails Carson Hocevar by three points in eighth and 35 points from Zane Smith in first. Enfinger has won the Regular Season Championship in 2020 and has competed in the Playoffs three other times in his career (2018-2020). His best outing came in his most recent appearance in 2020, where he ended the year fourth in standings.

The final driver to qualify for the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs is esteemed ThorSport Racing veteran Matt Crafton, who is 10th in the seeding. Crafton holds 2,001 points to his name, one point behind Grant Enfinger and 36 behind Zane Smith in the Playoff standings lead. This will mark the seventh consecutive season that Crafton has competed in the Playoffs (series-most). He is also the only active driver to have competed in every single year since the new format’s inception in 2016. A three-time NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series Champion (2013, 2014, 2019), Crafton’s 2021 Playoff appearance ended with him placed fourth in the standings.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Chad Chastain to attempt season debut at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park – The younger brother of NASCAR Cup Series superstar Ross Chastain, Chad Chastain, will be making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season debut this weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park for Niece Motorsports.

Chad Chastain will jump behind the wheel of the No. 41 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet under the guidance of crew chief Wally Rogers.

Chad Chastain made his Truck Series career debut last season at Watkins Glen International; he started 31st and finished 34th.  

Layne Riggs to attempt Truck Series career debut this weekend – Halmar Friesen Racing will run two trucks this weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park with Playoff contender Stewart Friesen in the No. 52 and CARS Late Model star Layne Riggs driving the No. 62 Halmar Friesen Toyota. It will be Riggs series career debut.

Riggs has primarily competed in the CARS Late Model Series since 2016, but this weekend will try his luck at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Riggs will be working alongside crew chief Trip Bruce.

This weekend’s race will be the eighth time this season the Halmar Friesen Racing has run two trucks. Riggs will join Stewart Friesen’s wife, Jessica Friesen (one race), and two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Todd Bodine (six races) as the third different driver to pilot the No. 62 this season.    

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