Fires, Penalties & Rookie Standouts Headline NASCAR at IMS

Tyler Reddick

Getty Tyler Reddick won a wild race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers took on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for the second time on July 31. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick won a race featuring fires, wrecks, and impressive rookies.

The driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet had one of the best cars in the field on July 31, which he used to lead 38 of the 86 laps. He survived multiple restarts and held off Ross Chastain during the final, two-lap dash to the checkered flag. This win was Reddick’s second of the season, and it marked the first time since 2013 that a Richard Childress Racing driver won multiple races in one season.

Reddick’s second win was a major talking point, as was the lineup of drivers that finished second, third, and fourth. Rookie Austin Cindric posted his best finish since his Daytona 500 win that kicked off the 2022 season. Harrison Burton was third with his first career top-five finish while Todd Gilliland was fourth with his first career top-five.

Per Dustin Albino of Jayski, this was only the second time in Cup Series history that three rookies posted top-five finishes in the same race. The first instance was at Pocono Raceway during the 1994 season. Ward Burton finished second, Joe Nemechek finished third, and Jeff Burton finished fourth.

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An equally big story is the driver who ended the day fifth overall. Bubba Wallace entered the race weekend with 18 career Cup Series starts at road courses and no top-10 finishes. He snapped that streak in a major way by posting his first career top-10 and his first career top-five at a Cup Series road course.

2 Drivers Had Fires in Their Stock Cars

Chris Buescher

GettyChris Buescher rebounded from an early fire.

There were multiple Ford Performance drivers who turned in strong performances with top-10 finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two of them also achieved this goal while dealing with fire and smoke.

RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher had to make an unscheduled pit stop during Stage 1 due to a sizable fire inside the No. 17 Ford Mustang. The team extinguished the blaze, but they had to continue working on the stock car while Buescher dealt with smoke and low visibility.

Buescher fell two laps down while the team worked on his No. 17 Ford, and he finished the first two stages outside of the top 30. However, he got back on the lead lap with under 20 laps remaining. He worked his way through the carnage on multiple restarts and finished 10th overall.

Joey Logano, the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, also had to quickly exit his stock car due to a fire. Though his incident occurred after he had crossed the finish line at the end of the race. Logano ended the day sixth overall before pulling to a stop on the track with smoke billowing from the interior.

2 Drivers Received Penalties in Overtime

Ross Chastain

GettyRoss Chastain (front) received a penalty after the IMS race.

While Reddick celebrated his win, NASCAR made a big announcement. The officials said that they had assessed both Chastain and Austin Dillon 30-second penalties for skipping Turn 1 with its massive collisions and using the access road to get back on the track.

The penalty had a bigger effect on Chastain’s day. He had the lead in overtime before ultimately finishing second behind Reddick. This would have led to a solid points day, but Chastain instead fell back to 27th after receiving the penalty.

Dillon, for comparison, was not in contention for the win. He raced near the middle of the pack during the final, two-lap run to the checkered flag before receiving the penalty. Dillon and the No. 3 team dropped to 30th overall at the end of the day.

The two drivers sit in very different situations with four races remaining in the regular season. Chastain has two wins and a secure spot in the playoffs. Dillon is well below the cutline and in a must-win situation.

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