Tyler Reddick survives 2 late restarts, Ross Chastain shortcut to win Verizon 200 from pole
INDIANAPOLIS -- Tyler Reddick quietly took pole Saturday for the Verizon 200, and Sunday, the third-year NASCAR Cup driver looked primed to cruise to his 2nd-career Cup win – and his second this month, no less. At Road America the first Sunday of July, Reddick out-braked Chase Elliott with 16 laps to go and drove off into his first-career win by a margin of more than 3 seconds.
On the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course Sunday afternoon, the polesitter led 28 of the first 76 laps, but debris from Christopher Bell’s busted fender broken by a flat-spotted tire, brought out a caution with 6 laps to go. What could’ve been a straight-forward run to the finish turned into two separate restarts where Reddick had to hold off some of the sport’s strongest drivers before he could ride into Victory Lane.
“Man, this is one really special place to race,” Reddick said on the post-race NBC broadcast.
Live in-race, it looked as if Reddick had to make a last-lap re-pass for the lead on Ross Chastain before NASCAR penalized the driver of the No. 1 post-race and took away his runner-up finish. On the overtime green-white-checkered restart, Chastain blew through Turn 1 and took an access road to merge back onto the track. While setup to be an alternative for drivers who are run off-track or below the braking zone, NASCAR appeared to rule that Chastain’s move wasn’t accidental enough to allow him to be battling for the lead headed to the checkered flag.
Before NASCAR could penalize Chastain, he passed Reddick for the lead on the second-to-last lap around the Turns 4-5-6 chicane.
“I was like, ‘Uh oh,’” Reddick said post-race of being passed by Chastain late. “That was a scenario we’d talked about, where if things bottled up, you could take the access road, but I couldn’t believe he got ahead of me. I was waiting for his penalty and didn’t want to move him out of the way and make the race worse than it was. Hats off to Ross for trying, but I’m glad it didn’t work. I would’ve been pretty (upset).”
Said Chastain post-race: “I was trying not to be in the carnage in Turn 1. We were four-wide, and I couldn’t go any farther right, so I decided to take the access lane out of there. It was just pure reaction. I’d done that in practice when I overshot Turn 1. Just trying not to get him and worked back to try and merge.”
NASCAR handed him a 30-second time penalty post-race for the move. After Chastain’s penalty, 2022 Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric finished runner-up, followed by Harrison Burton (3rd), Todd Gilliland (4th) and Bubba Wallace (5th). Chastain dropped down to 27th after his penalty.
In overtime with two laps to go on the final restart, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney was spun from 3rd looking for his first win of the year to ensure his spot in the 10-race playoffs at the end of the year. Coming into Sunday’s race, Blaney sat third in points, but without a win and with 14 drivers having already sealed a spot in the 16-driver playoff field from their wins this year, Blaney needed to win or hope another first-time winner in 2022 didn’t emerge. Though he finished 26th after his contact, Reddick’s second win of the year gives Blaney only a couple more races to be on-edge.
Trying to go all-out for a shot at a win, Blaney's team opted not to take new tires on his final pitstop on Lap 54 to go for a quicker stop that also would keep him from having to lose time heating the new tires up in the laps following that stop. Before his spin, he'd gone more than 50 laps on that set of tires in the midst of Team Penske's roll of the dice.
On the second-to-last restart with three laps to go in the scheduled 82-lap race, 2020 series champ Elliott was spun from 2nd-place after William Byron got into the side of Blaney, who then tapped the rear fender of Elliott in Turn 1. At the time, Saturday’s Xfinity race-winner and the defending Verizon 200 race-winner A.J. Allmendinger moved up into 2ndplace for the final restart. He’d drop down to 7th by the checkered flag and collapsed on pitlane, looking to be severely dehydrated after the cool-suit he was wearing failed early in the race and he’d run out of water in the cockpit.
Larson's brakes fail, cause heavy two-car wreck
Already multiple laps down after a Lap 24 incident that gave him a flat right-front tire, Kyle Larson suffered what appeared to be a brake failure on Lap 61 in a scary incident that was nearly much, much worse. Barreling down the track likely topping 150 mph across the start-finish line headed for Turn 1, Larson didn’t appear to slow down at all with Ty Dillon ahead making the right-hander.
Realizing he’d lost his brakes, Larson attempted to turn the wheel right a bit of avoid spearing the right side of Dillon’s No. 42 head-on. Instead, they smashed doors, sending both drivers into massive spins to bring out the race’s first non-stage break caution flags.
After he managed to climb out of his No. 5 Chevy, the defending Cup series champ ran over towards Dillon’s No. 42 Chevy to check on him to make sure he was okay.
“All I saw was a blue flash. That’s about the hardest I’ve ever been hit with anything,” Dillon said after being released from the infield care center. “But these cars are safe enough to take a shot like that.
“Just grateful that I’m okay. It’s been a tough year, but we’re never going to quit, and we’ll keep getting better. You’re just going to have days like this.”
After Larson was released, he declined comment to media at the care center.
Eight cars failed to finish Sunday’s 82-lap race, with Aric Almirola in last (38th) after damage he suffered running into Larson as the pair took Turn 1 on Lap 24. In his NASCAR debut, ex-F1 driver Daniil Kvyat finished 36th. Larson took 35th and Ty Dillon placed 34th, while Alex Bowman (32nd) and Kevin Harvick (33rd) also failed to finish after crashing into each other at the exit of Turn 1 on the restart with 18 laps to go. Byron crashed on the second-to-last restart and finished six laps down in 31st.