Kaulig Racing driver AJ Allmendinger told media members prior to the race weekend that his goal was to finally kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after 12 previous tries. The NASCAR veteran accomplished his goal after a very wild overtime. He took the lead from Chase Briscoe and built up a lead over Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Matt DiBenedetto.
The final overtime began with Denny Hamlin and Briscoe fighting for the lead. However, chaos ensued after Briscoe went through the grass and received a penalty. He pulled back into second place after his detour and then sent Hamlin spinning off of the track. NASCAR officials made Briscoe pull off to the side on Turn 10 to serve his penalty, surrendering the lead to Allmendinger.
The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro achieved his goal of finally winning at Indianapolis, but he also made history. He became the first Kaulig Racing driver to win a Cup Series race, doing so in only four starts in 2021. Now he will contend for the Xfinity Series championship while celebrating a historic weekend at the Brickyard.
The Turn 5/6 Curb Caused Utter Chaos in the Final Laps
Following a late caution, the drivers lined up for what they thought was the final restart. They took the green flag with six laps remaining and raced around the track. However, the curbing on Turn 5/6 completely shook up the race.
Martin Truex Jr. was the first to experience issues. He spun out after going over the curb and hitting some debris, ultimately colliding with the inside tire barrier. He was able to get back onto the track without assistance, so the race remained green despite the presence of debris.
The real carnage took place on the following lap. Race leader Denny Hamlin went over the curb, followed by Briscoe and Larson, but William Byron and several other drivers lost control of their stock cars. Byron and Kyle Busch spun through the grass, as did Joey Logano who hit the tire barrier and completely destroyed the front of the No. 22 Ford Mustang.
According to NASCAR, the list of involved drivers included James Davison, Busch, Logano, Christopher Bell, Byron, Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain, Justin Haley, and Daniel Suarez. Truex was on pit road at the time repairing the damage from his previous spin while Matt DiBenedetto and Kurt Busch both continued in the race after catching air.
Track officials removed the troublesome piece of curbing after the incident in order to avoid potential other issues. However, they left another piece in the middle of the turn that many drivers called a “launchpad.” This curbing is the same piece that sent Kris Wright into the air during the Xfinity Series race on Saturday, Aug. 14.
Overtime Featured Even More Chaos That Impacted the Playoff Race
The race came to a halt under red flag conditions for nearly 20 minutes as track officials attempted to clean up from the massive incident on Turns 5 and 6. The drivers finally had the opportunity to line up for a two-lap overtime shootout as they fought for the checkered flag.
The drivers did not even complete the first lap of overtime before another incident on the exact same turn brought out the red flag once again. Hamlin, Briscoe, Allmendinger, and DiBenedetto made it through the turns without issue, but Bubba Wallace swerved through the grass to avoid the “launchpad” curb. Michael McDowell could not avoid the obstacle as he launched into the air, spinning out of control and slamming violently into the wall.
The incident collected multiple other drivers, including Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer and Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick. The driver of the No. 8 made it back to pit road with a destroyed front end, but Dillon remained trackside until the tow truck took his stock car back to the garage. Reddick, who won the first two stages of the race, returned to the track without the hood on his stock car so he could continue extending his lead over Dillon for the final playoff spot. He finished 21st while Dillon ended the day 31st.