AJ Allmendinger Wins Verizon 200 Amid Curb Controversy in First Cup Race on IMS Road Course
AJ Allmendinger survived two late red flags and multiple attempts at an overtime finish to win the Verizon 200, becoming the first NASCAR Cup Series driver to win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a chaotic finish, his first Cup win since Watkins Glen in 2014.
On the final overtime restart, Allmendinger inherited the lead after leader Denny Hamlin was spun by Chase Briscoe heading to turn nine, and Briscoe was handed a stop-and-go penalty for driving through the grass after missing turn one. As Briscoe served his penalty, Allmendinger took the lead and led the final lap to give Kauling Racing their first ever Cup Series victory.
William Byron won the inaugural pole on the road course this morning, and led the field to green alongside the rookie Briscoe, with the field managing to get through the first turn cleanly. Briscoe put the pressure on Byron to take the lead on the second lap in turn seven as the top four of Briscoe, Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson began to pull away from the field.
On lap 13, drivers began to make their first stops before the end of stage one. Joey Logano, Ross Chastain and Hamlin were among those who pit, while the top four pit the very next lap. Briscoe’s stop took a little longer than the others, as the team worked to clear grass from the grill of his Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Michael McDowell inherited the lead from the pit cycle, but was passed with two laps to go in the stage by Tyler Reddick in turn 12, taking the stage win from the Daytona 500 winner. Reddick’s teammate Austin Dillon came home in third, with Erik Jones, Ryan Preece, Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Justin Haley, Briscoe and Elliott picking up stage points.
Keselowski led the field to green after staying out as Briscoe had to reset his ECU and lost a few spots, restarting fifth. Keselowski got an incredible start as Elliott was slow, maintaining the lead through the chaos of turn one. With his fresh tyres, Byron sent it down the inside of turn seven to battle Keselowski, but he was unable to make the move and allowed his teammate Elliott in front of him. Side by side down the frontstretch, Elliott took the lead before turn one, as Byron continued to drop spots after battling with Logano for third with a poor run through the chicane of turns five and six.
As the stage wound down, Larson began hunting down his teammate Elliott for the lead. Briscoe and Byron were the first of the leaders to pit on lap 33, making their stops before the stage end. Both the leaders came in on the next lap, with Elliott beating Larson off of pit road for the provisional race lead. Reddick grabbed the stage win yet again, followed by Dillon, Preece, Stenhouse, DiBennedetto, Haley, Corey LaJoie, Andy Lally, Larson and Elliott. The current championship leader able to steal ninth from his teammate after a thrilling battle across the entire final lap. Larson finally made the move stick to take the position, points and provisional lead.
At the start of stage three Larson kept the lead from Elliott, with Byron sliding past Kyle Busch for third. Further back in the pack, Stenhouse and Aric Almirola got stacked up on the backstretch spun out of turn six, and soon a caution was thrown for debris underneath the curb in turn six. The caution did not come from the drivers, as this piece of debris was worked on during the stage caution, but the issue needed more fixing.
Larson took the green again with 39 laps to go and took his lead back, with Byron taking second place from Elliott. Larson began to check out, building up a large gap to Elliott, but with ten laps to go a caution was thrown for debris at the exit of turn six.
Many of the leaders came into the pits, with Hamlin and Kurt Busch among the few that stayed out. Larson won the battle off of pit road followed by Byron, but Elliott’s had issues on pit road as the car came down off the jack before service was complete. Larson restarted sixth as the green flag dropped and immediately jumped up to third by turn nine.
The next lap around, the exit of turn six became a scrap heap, as multiple cars hit the curb that received work earlier in the race, claiming frontrunners like Logano, Byron, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Bell and more. The race was red flagged with four laps to go while crews removed the curb, and all drivers involved were unharmed. There was also a very extensive cleanup needed for oil trailed from turns one to four by James Davison.
The race went back to green for a green-white-checkered overtime finish with Hamlin and Larson, the regular season championship leaders, dueling for the win. Larson went wide in turn one looking for an outside pass but Briscoe and DiBennedetto pushed by as Larson was shoved down the order. Turn six once again caused a calamity on the restart, as McDowell was spun throwing smoke across the track and collecting many others like Dillon, Cole Custer, Reddick, Truex and more, necessitating another red flag.
At the restart Briscoe was forced off course into the grass in turn one, but re joined staying close with Hamlin. He was given a stop and go penalty as Hamlin spun going to turn nine, handing the lead to Allmendinger heading to the white flag. The road course ace was clear of second place Ryan Blaney, and brought home the victory.
“I was so mad yesterday, I wanted to win so bad,” Allmendinger said post-race, referencing his second place finish in the Xfinity race yesterday.
“In my wildest dreams I could have never imagined the way that just played out.”
“It was survival of the fittest, we probably had an eighth to tenth place car, I sped on pit road, I thought we were going to finish twelfth to fifteenth, and then those restarts were just insane. It’s great when you have a car owner (Matt Kaulig) that just says ‘go get me trophies’, he doesn’t care if that thing is torn up.”
Despite his heartbreaking spin, Hamlin has been locked into the Playoffs on points, meaning that with two races left only one more playoff spot is up for grabs.
Verizon 200 Official Results
|1||16||A.J. Allmendinger||Kaulig Racing||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|2||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|3||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|4||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|5||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|6||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|7||43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|8||77||Justin Haley*||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|9||33||Austin Cindric*||Team Penske||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|10||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|11||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|12||17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|13||23||Bubba Wallace||23XI Racing||Toyota||95||RUNNING|
|14||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|15||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||95||RUNNING|
|16||7||Corey Lajoie||Spire Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|17||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|18||52||Josh Bilicki||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|19||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|20||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||95||RUNNING|
|21||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|22||00||Quin Houff||StarCom Racing||Chevrolet||95||RUNNING|
|23||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||95||RUNNING|
|24||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||95||RUNNING|
|25||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||94||RUNNING|
|26||14||Chase Briscoe||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||94||RUNNING|
|27||66||Timmy Hill||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||94||RUNNING|
|28||53||Garrett Smithley||Rick Ware Racing||Ford||94||RUNNING|
|29||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||93||RUNNING|
|30||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||88||CRASH|
|31||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||88||CRASH|
|32||15||James Davison||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||80||CRASH|
|33||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||77||CRASH|
|34||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||77||CRASH|
|35||37||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||77||CRASH|
|36||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||77||CRASH|
|37||99||Daniel Suarez||Trackhouse Racing Team||Chevrolet||77||CRASH|
|38||38||Anthony Alfredo||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||68||MECHANICAL|
|39||78||Andy Lally||Live Fast Motorsports||Ford||55||MECHANICAL|
|40||51||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Chevrolet||46||CRASH|
* – Ineligible for Cup points