The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the hollowed Brickyard as it visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the 2023 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. The best in the business will take on a 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course with the finish line of the regular season in sight. Road course aces AJ Allmendinger and Tyler Reddick are the winners of the last two, but there are many hungry drivers looking to help their playoff chances. Who will kiss the bricks in Indy?
Driver to Fade:
Aric Almirola comes into Indianapolis with a must-win mentality as he sits in 24th place in points, 81 points below the playoff cut line. Almirola is facing a track that has not been particularly kind to him in its first two years on the circuit, with his average finish at 28.5. Practice and qualifying Saturday did not go as planned because Aric rolls off in 33rd today. The #10 car looks poised for another frustrating day in Indianapolis, finishing outside of the top 20.
Justin Haley has done an excellent job maximizing the potential of the #31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet for most of the season. Haley had his closest brush with Cup glory at the Chicago Street Course until the day was overshadowed by Shane van Gisbergen. The 24-year-old driver owns one top ten at the Indy Road Course. With the #31 car rolling off 15th, expect Haley to hang in there for a solid top 15 finish.
Chase Elliott’s 2023 campaign has been a struggle to find any sense of consistency, and his team needs a Hail Mary (a win) to get into the playoffs. Luckily for the 2020 Cup Series Champion and seven-time road course winner, there are back-to-back road course chances. Interestingly, Elliott has not found the same winning success in the Next Gen car, but has 3 top 5 finishes in his last five road course starts. With solid practice pace and 3rd place qualifying speed, the #9 team will finish inside the top ten.
Tyler Reddick has had this race circled on his calendar since winning convincingly from the pole last year. Reddick has quickly become the one-to-beat every road course race weekend in the Next Gen car, winning three in the last two seasons. The #45 Toyota team comes into the weekend off the heels of a rather horrible pit crew outing that ultimately costed Reddick a chance at victory in Michigan. While Suarez had a blistering one lap pace, Reddick seems to have figured Indy out and can consistently find speed on the track. We expect no repeat pit issues and for Reddick to recapture momentum heading into the playoffs!