Podium Preview: Verizon 200 at Indianapolis

Above all else, Kyle Busch seeks another Indianapolis win in Sunday's Verizon 200. (Photo: Stacy Revere | Getty Images)

Above all else, Kyle Busch seeks another Indianapolis win in Sunday’s Verizon 200. (Photo: Stacy Revere | Getty Images)

Without a doubt, any race, especially the Verizon 200, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway proves quite special. Indeed, round 24 of the NASCAR Cup Series season serves more than just another race of a memorable campaign.

In this case, it’s another opportunity for Cup drivers with making Brickyard magic, road course style. Surely, the likes of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr, AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric seem prime for Indianapolis immortality.

Each race weekend, The Podium Finish’s panelists preview each NASCAR Cup Series points-paying race. This weekend, Adam LucasAshley HobbsCody ShoppeKobe LambethMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorTaylor Kitchen, and yours truly consider another Larson versus Elliott battle and more INDYCAR-NASCAR crossovers.

Podium Preview: Verizon 200 at Indianapolis
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Question 1
Definitely, Kyle Larson seems like a prime favorite for Sunday's Verizon 200 at Indianapolis. (Photo: Stacy Revere | Getty Images)

Definitely, Kyle Larson seems like a prime favorite for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis. (Photo: Stacy Revere | Getty Images)

After another riveting Hendrick victory at Watkins Glen by Kyle Larson, might we see him duel against Chase Elliott at Indianapolis on Sunday?

Hobbs :  It’s hard to justify this not being the case. Outside of these two Hendrick Motorsports drivers, only Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are averaging just as well this season. Not to mention, this is a new road course, and that is where Elliott really has shone. But, Larson is certainly on a hot streak. These two drivers really go head-to-head every week regardless of the track and I see that not only continuing this weekend, but until the last lap of the last race.

Lambeth :  Besides the Daytona Road Course (Christopher Bell), every road course race has been a case of rinse and repeat. Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have dominated and won every road course this season. Given their recent history of success, nobody should be surprised if we see the same thing occur at the IMS Road Course. However, it will be interesting to see if the dominant Hendrick duo can be defeated at the Brickyard.

Tiongson :  Sure, why not? Arguably, Chase Elliott was insanely fast in the final run as evidenced in his sector times in the final 10 laps. However, he ran out of time and into backmarkers like his teammate and eventual race winner Kyle Larson. Hendrick Motorsports excels at road courses with high speed sections (i.e. see COTA, Sonoma, Road America and Watkins Glen). While only one road course race remains after Indianapolis, this race warrants serious attention with Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and how these drivers and teams react and prepare for this interesting race.

Sisoler :  If at the end of Sunday’s race, we don’t see at least one time where Larson and Elliott are battling for the lead, I’ll be shocked. With Hendrick’s resurgence this year, the two guys have been routinely at the front of the field for most of the road course races whether or not they win. While Elliott’s speed was not great in practice Saturday, his performance in a short-notice sub role for Michael Annett in the Xfinity race was very good, and if he can match the job he did in the JRM No. 1 Camaro back in his normal Cup ride, I’d say we could be looking at another HMS showdown for the win Sunday.

Shoppe :  It is more than likely going to be another Hendrick Motorsports inter-team battle! Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott have been dominant on the various road courses this year. Despite this being uncharted territory for the Cup series, I expect more of the same at the famed Indianapolis motor speedway road course!

Question 2
Championship chat. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

Championship chat. (Photo: Stephen Conley | The Podium Finish)

If an INDYCAR-NASCAR crossover is possible, which would you want to see and why?

Raynor :  We have seen it. But I’d say it’s such different cars and to do a crossover with drivers would be hard unless they had plenty of practice. I’d love to see Sonoma or Road America. I’d also love to see a couple of drivers do both races that weekend. 

Lucas :  It’s been done before, just not with the Cup series in attendance. I for one love the idea as long as it is feasible and beneficial toward both series. The one thing I would caution each sanctioning body is that not every race track is worth a doubleheader weekend. Indy works perfectly because it is literally the backyard of INDYCAR. 

The next double event I would explore would be the Charlotte ROVAL. NASCAR has been going to Indy since 1994 and INDYCAR had a brief stint at Charlotte in the late 90’s (albeit it abruptly ended over tragic circumstances). From a safety perspective, the technology that Indycar has invested into preventing such tragic events from ever happening again, would in theory allow them to hold an event at the track in the future.

One potential hurdle in preventing this would be that the Charlotte ROVAL is a playoff race for NASCAR. Seeing some drivers do a crossover would be epic! Seeing Kyle Busch in a Rowdy Energy sponsored IndyCar would be something for the ages. Or even a chance at seeing Jimmie Johnson return to a NASCAR stock car! Oh, the possibilities are endless!

Torres :  It’s been done in the past when multiple IRL races had the Truck Series being a part of their weekend two decades ago. Now in the Double 20s, I’d love to see it happen a couple times. It’ll give some neat opportunities of seeing guys crossing over and try double duty.

Doesn’t hurt either sport to work together and bring as many fans as possible. Perhaps expose them into a new sport they might’ve not given a chance. Just a matter of how much team chemistry can take place all across the board. I really hope it doesn’t become messy because neither sanctioning body can afford regression.

Kitchen :  I think some crossover between the series is a fun idea! It would be incredibly cool to see more drivers out of their element trying to dabble in a different series.

As someone who is just getting into the INDYCAR world, I am most familiar with the NASCAR associated teams. That being said, I would love to see Joseph Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud try out stock car racing. But, to expand my horizons a bit, I think seeing Colton Herta in the NASCAR series for a weekend would be very entertaining. After watching the Music City Grand Prix, I was able to see his aggressive driving and his emerging talent as a young driver, which was quite exciting to watch.

Now, let us flip the script. 

Going off of my original statement with NASCAR affiliated teams in INDYCAR, I would enjoy seeing some of the Penske drivers take a turn in the INDYCAR series. Finally, and I cannot explain why, but I would love to see Ross Chastain drive INDYCAR for a weekend.

By all means, two laps around Indianapolis’ famed road course proves frantic but enjoyable. Next, we reflect on Race 23, the Go Bowling at the Glen, with our race and points reports!
Of course, Matt Sisoler muscles his way with another win thanks to Kyle Larson.

Of course, Matt Sisoler muscles his way with another win thanks to Kyle Larson.

On the other hand, Hobbs pulls away from us.

On the other hand, Hobbs pulls away from us.

Here, Ashley Hobbs considers those numbers for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis with past road course data worth digesting!
First, consider how your favorite team fares ahead of Sunday's Verizon 200 at Indianapolis.

First, consider how your favorite team fares ahead of Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis.

Since 2014, road course winners have an average starting position of 7.4, led an average of 32.4 laps, started within the top five 37.5% of the time and started within the top 10 75% of the time.

Since 2014, road course winners have an average starting position of 7.4, led an average of 32.4 laps, started within the top five 37.5% of the time and started within the top 10 75% of the time.

Chasing Elliott.

Chasing Elliott.

Here, we consider the trends in the past 10 years of road course races.

Here, we consider the trends in the past 10 years of road course races.

Next, consider the trends in the past five years of road course races.

Next, consider the trends in the past five years of road course races.

Insert Tim Allen's Home Improvement theme sound.

Insert Tim Allen’s Home Improvement theme sound.

Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis top 10 starters will be shown after qualifying.
Lastly, here’s our picks for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at Indianapolis!
Ultimately, it's 6G, not 5G, for the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis with these picks!

Ultimately, it’s 6G, not 5G, for the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis with these picks!

Tiongson : If it wasn’t for the TTR pre-race penalty, Chase Elliott seemed likely for his third consecutive Watkins Glen victory. While teammate Kyle Larson looks quite ready for his sixth win of 2021, expect Elliott at the front of the field and at least podiuming on Sunday.

TPF Stats : While the math says Denny Hamlin, our rules say Chase Elliott. [insert shocked face here, but I am a machine, I have no emotion].

Hobbs : Chase Elliott… Kyle Larson… it’s going to be one of them, right? Unless someone else pokes their [insert manufacturer here] nose out, it will come down to these two. I am giving the edge to Elliott given it is a new road course.

Lucas : Chase “King of the Road” Elliott will be kissing the bricks this weekend!

Sisoler : As I said in my response above, while Chase’s speed in practice wasn’t great, he had a fantastic outing in a short notice substitute driver role for Michael Annett in Saturday’s Xfinity race. He drove the JRM No. 1 from deep in the field to within shouting distance of the leaders before settling for 4th. Give him his Hooters No. 9 Camaro back, and I think there’s a good chance that the rest of the field will be Chase-ing Mr. Elliott when the checkers fall Sunday.

Kitchen : This weekend is tough. With practice and qualifying, I think we have to keep a close eye on the JGR drivers as they tend to thrive with some extra track time, especially Kyle Busch. However, after what we have seen with HMS at these road courses and the dominance of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson at these tracks, I have to go off of what we saw last weekend and pick Kyle Larson for this weekend.

The only reason I refrain from going with Elliott this weekend is because he tends to make mistakes when it matters most and that puts him in a tough situation that is barely possible to overcome.

Lambeth : Believe it or not, I am not going with the obvious pick of Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott. I want to shake things up and have a little fun at the Brickyard. Therefore, we will get an unexpected result with a first-time NASCAR Cup Series winner. Indiana native Chase Briscoe‘s only top-10s in his rookie season have come at road courses. The Stewart-Haas Racing rookie will get it done at Indy, winning at home!

Torres : In his final Cup race of 2021, Austin Cindric will end it with a bang. That being scoring his first win at Indy. All he really needs is luck on his side and do what he couldn’t do at Road America. That being a force to be reckoned. Who knows, after Sunday, Denny Hamlin will thank the defending Xfinity Series champion for keeping him in the playoffs.

Raynor : I’ll go with Martin Truex Jr. He’s so good at these tracks and last week showed speed.

Shoppe : While Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have been dominant on road courses this year, quietly just behind them has been the surprise Daytona road course winner Christopher Bell. Bell may not have to finishes to show how strong he’s been on these tracks such as Watkins Glen last weekend, he’s a strong contender to sneek his way to a win in Indy.

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into the race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  Stay safe and wash your hands often. Help yourself, your family and friends by getting the COVID-19 vaccine! Take the shot to save your life and others! Also, thanks for reading our content throughout this season.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

Also, if you are shopping for NASCAR or racing die-casts, be sure to check out our friends at Circle B Diecast! If your order is $20 or more, be sure to use coupon code TPF2021 for free shipping! Tell them we sent you and buy some new die-casts now!

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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