The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers headed out onto Indianapolis Motor Speedway‘s road course on Saturday, Aug. 14, for the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard. Several drivers did not complete the race after hitting the curb on the outside of Turn 6 and going airborne. Now NASCAR officials have decided to alter the track ahead of the Cup Series race on Sunday, Aug. 15.
Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass revealed after the end of the Xfinity Series race that NASCAR was removing the orange rumble strip on the outside of Turn 6. Pockrass had revealed earlier in the race that the purpose of the obstacle was to prevent drivers from going into the grass. However, several accidentally used it as a ramp and caught air in their stock cars. The NBC Sports broadcast then showed track officials after the race examining the curb and discussing their options.
Kevin Harvick, Brandon Jones, and Harrison Burton all hit the curb on the opening lap and damaged their respective vehicles. Harvick and Jones, in particular, immediately went to the garage and saw their days come to an extremely early end. Rookie Sam Mayer also slammed into the tire wall after swerving to avoid the curb and sliding through the grass. He later tweeted that they would have had a great battle if the curb hadn’t been there.
Austin Cindric Said the Change Would Encourage ‘Two-Wide Racing’
There were several drivers that competed in the Xfinity Series race before heading over to the Cup Series. Race-winner Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Andy Lally, and Kevin Harvick all experienced the curb firsthand and saw how it could disrupt a promising day.
Cindric spoke to media members after winning the race and explained how the removal of the curb will impact the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Cup Series race. He said that anyone who hit the orange curb was likely heading off of the track.
“I’m not sure of the extent of the damage caused by other cars,” Cindric said, per Pockrass. “Overall, if they felt the need to take it out, it probably leaves a little bit more room for two-wide racing. The Cup cars are quite a bit lower to the ground, so if they felt like that was the right move, then I have no problem with it.”
Cindric Will Now Attack the Altered Turn in a New Stock Car
The Team Penske driver will now have the opportunity to test out the track without the curb on Turn 6 while driving a different stock car. He will climb into the No. 33 Team Penske Ford Mustang on Sunday, Aug. 15, for his final Cup Series start of the year.
Given his experience on road courses, as well as his win in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, Cindric will be on the drivers to watch when the green flag drops. Kyle Larson and Elliott will obviously be the favorites after splitting victories at Road America, Circuit of the Americas, Sonoma, and Watkins Glen. Cindric will still draw some attention after moments of brilliance in past Cup Series races.
Prior to pursuing the checkered flag, Cindric first had to qualify near the front of the pack. He was the fifth-fastest driver during the Cup Series practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway behind Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Denny Hamlin, and Christopher Bell. However, he narrowly missed the final round of qualifying with the 13th-fastest time.
The Cup Series race will take place on Sunday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m. ET. NBC will broadcast the action “radio-style” with Rick Allen and Steve Letarte in the booth. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mike Bagley, and Jeff Burton spread around the track in towers to provide a better glimpse of the drivers and the various turns.