CONCORD, N.C. – For the third time in NASCAR Cup Series history, the sport's top series will compete on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in a points-paying event. Since 2021, the sport’s top division has utilized the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course.
While the track has hosted the famed Indianapolis 500 dating back to 1911 (with a brief halt from 1942-1945), the Cup Series’ involvement with the facility is more recent. In 1994, Jeff Gordon drove to his second career victory in the inaugural 400-mile race at "The Brickyard" on the famed oval configuration. On the oval configuration, Hendrick Motorsports notched 10 wins, with Gordon accounting for five victories, Jimmie Johnson earning four and Kasey Kahne scoring a triumph in 2017.
This year's race marks the third straight season that the 14-turn road course has been on the schedule. It is one of two serpentine tracks that the organization has yet to win on (the Chicago Street Course is the other).
Since coming to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2021 season, Kyle Larson has had his share of road course success. He has won four road course races, which are the most victories on that track type in that span of time. Larson is tied for third among active drivers for road course wins. At Indianapolis, he led 28 laps en route to a third-place finish. In the series' most recent road race in Chicago, the 31-year-old driver earned a top-five finish, placing fourth. Sitting sixth in the points, Larson finds himself in the midst of a standings battle to add more playoff points to his bucket.
Although William Byron earned the pole position in 2021’s inaugural event, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native has been struck by bad luck during the late stages of both races held on the road course layout. In 2021, while running third, the curb in turn five became dislodged from the ground during the final stage, sending Byron spinning with a torn apart race car. Last season, late-race chaos collected the No. 24 entry with three laps to go on a restart. Prior to the yellow, he was running fifth. In 2023, the 25-year-old driver earned a top-five finish at Circuit of The Americas, which is his best road course result. Byron is looking to earn his first top-10 finish since his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway last month.
Chase Elliott's seven wins on road courses are the most among active drivers in the series and rank third among all drivers. While none of those have happened at Indianapolis, he did finish fourth in 2021's inaugural race here. In last year's event, he restarted on the front row with three laps remaining before getting spun out in turn one. Despite the contact, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy was able to rebound and earn a 16th-place finish. In 2023, he has two top-five finishes on the two road courses he has run (Sonoma Raceway and Chicago). The 27-year-old driver is 55 points outside the playoff cutline with three races to go in the regular season.
Alex Bowman is looking to continue to make strides on road courses. Earlier this season, he finished third at Circuit of The Americas and he has two runner-up finishes on serpentine layouts (COTA in 2022 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019). Bowman has not finished better than 17th at Indianapolis' road layout, but his other road course performances show that result to be more of a outlier. Sitting 44 points outside of the playoff cutline, the 30-year-old driver has three races left to make his way into the playoffs.
At Indianapolis, the restart zone will be relocated to turns 13 and 14. Once vehicles exit the restart zone, they may change lanes. Race cars do not have to stay in line until they pass the start/finish line. This event will have the choose rule, which be located prior to turn seven.
Here's what you need to know to catch this weekend’s action.
WHAT TIME IS PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING?
Group practice for the Cup Series will be held on Saturday, August 12 and begin at 11:35 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App. Group qualifying will begin immediately after practice at 12:35 p.m. ET with coverage also available on the NBC Sports App.
Elliott is in Group A, while Bowman, Byron and Larson are part of Group B.
WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?
The 82-lap Cup Series main is scheduled for Sunday, August 13 at 2:30 p.m. ET with coverage on NBC. A post-race show will take place on Peacock. Since this is a road course, there are no cautions for stage breaks. Stage one ends on lap 15 and stage two ends on lap 35.
CAN I LISTEN ON THE RADIO?
The Cup Series race will be broadcast on the IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (channel 90).
CAN I STREAM ONLINE?
FIVE FAST FACTS HEADING INTO INDIANAPOLIS
Data provided by Racing Insights
7.85: Elliott's career average finish on road courses. That mark is the best among active drivers and third-best among all drivers.
9.65: Byron's average starting position in 2023 and that mark is best among full-time drivers.
10: Amount of top-10 finishes that Bowman has on road courses in his Cup Series career.
14: Number of stage wins by Hendrick Motorsports on road courses, which is tied for the most all time.
102: Points earned by Larson in this year's three road course races to date. He ranks third in this statistic.