2021 NASCAR Preview: Week 24 – Indianapolis Grand Prix

We’re doing things a little different at The Brickyard today!

In a series of “ROVAL”-type tracks, we’ve come to another this year, the Indianapolis Grand Prix course taking the place of the usual Brickyard formation. How much does this favor the road course driver, and does any of the ability linked to Brickyard prowess shine through? Good news for us, we don’t have to wait long to find out.

Here’s what to look for:

William Byron was fastest in Qualifying on Sunday morning, he’ll have the best view from the front of the field. It seems like he should have a pretty easy lap from then on out, too, not having to fight with anyone in the turns or get stuck behind anybody, and it should have a cumulative effect, too. At least that is how it is “supposed” to be. We’ll see how long the #24 can hold that lead, and if he can deliver a Win like Jeff Gordon did in the inaugural Indianapolis NASCAR race. (Rookie / native Hoosier Chase Briscoe will start 2nd, seeking his first career Cup Win. He won the 2020 Xfinity race here.)

Chase Elliott is the Vegas favorite to win this one, NASCAR’s current “road course expert,” nabbing checkers at COTA and Road America earlier this season after dominating right-turn tracks in previous years. It seems like we’re only talking about one at a time in the Cup Series, for some reason, because it very much seems to me that we’ve got a load of talented road course guys at any given time, especially this year..

-..like Kyle Larson, who is having a huge resurgence. It looked like he may’ve been blackballed from NASCAR forever, but he has picked up better than he left off upon signing with Hendrick Motorsports. This is the best season he’s ever had, and it isn’t even over yet. Five Wins so far, including last week at Watkins Glen (road course) and Sonoma (road course). He was threatening for the Pole in Qualifying as well; expect the #5 to work his way up there before long. Doesn’t have far to go, launching from 4th.

Kevin Harvick probably furrowed his brow a little when he saw that they were changing the configuration for the Indianapolis race this year. He has had massive success at this place, winning both of the last two runnings of the Brickyard 400, and was gigantic in 2020 as a whole. He led the Series in Wins, and ran all but three laps. A very different story this season, still seeking his first visit to Victory Lane. Will be be buoyed by returning here, or see this as yet another roadblock to success? Happy rolls off 25th today (and is betting on “interesting,” see above!).

-Wouldn’t it be cool to see a new winner today? How about Austin Cindric? He makes his last Cup start of the season today, rockin’ some Penske equipment and looking to run up front. He’ll start 13th, but was secure in the Top 12 for the first part of Qualifying (which is significant because the Top 12 advance to a second round of qualifying where they will then lineup based on how that second portion goes). And what’s more, he won the Xfinity race here yesterday. Could it happen today, a complete surprise at Indianapolis? He’ll be in the #33 MoneyLion Ford today, looking to cash in big time.

We’ve got some Indiana food for you today, a spin on a carb-loaded dish and some dessert for after..

Indiana Potato Salad (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)
Lunch, featuring Indiana Potato Salad (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)
Sugar Cream Pie (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)

Wow! The smell that surrounds us is wonderful right now, wish you were here! We’re just settin’ down for a little lunch here, white hots accompanied by sweet corn and Indiana Potato Salad. We’re used to potato salad being cold, but this is a definitely warmer serving, with bacon (hooray!) and little blocks of Velveeta throughout. Afterwards, we’re going to dig into that Sugar Cream Pie, a popular dessert in the Hoosier State. Pretty simple ingredients, finished off with some cinnamon dusted on top. I’m gonna whip through my food here so I can dig into that thing, touted as “a lighter cream pie” when compared to other leading cream pies on the market, I guess, haha. Nice job, Leese!

Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 1:00pm, green flag scheduled for 1:13pm.

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