By Cole Cusumano
The Brickyard 400 was often heralded as one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events. However, years of monotony caught up to the infamous venue and prompted change once motorsports legend Roger Penske took over ownership for the world-class facility.
In 2020, the NASCAR Xfinity Series debuted on the iconic 14-turn Indianapolis Grand Prix course and the results were a staggering success. Regarded as one of the greatest races across the sport last year, fans ultimately became more accepting of the inevitable that was going to become part of the premier series, and now that time has come.
Oval or not, there is no greater glory for drivers than kissing the bricks at Indy.
NASCAR Cup Series
The 2.439-mile road course will be the sixth time the Cup Series heads to this type of track in 2021. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott continue to be the standard for excellence at these venues, as they account for four of the wins and have finished 1-2 to each other on three occasions.
Hamlin is battling for the ultimate consolation prize, as he’s in a heated battle with Larson for the regular-season Championship. Both drivers are in a dead-lock tie for first as it stands currently.
Harvick is clinging on to the 15-seed by 95 points, along with Tyler Reddick. The pair of playoff hopefuls extended their leads slightly at Watkins Glen, while drivers like Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher and Matt DiBenedetto continue to claw their way to a postseason berth.
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NASCAR Xfinity Series
The quest for the postseason still looms largely with many questions left unanswered. The most important being, who will emerge as Austin Cindric’s biggest challenger for the title.
Luckily for the reigning Champion, it won’t be rookie phenom, Ty Gibbs, who continues to establish his status as a superstar in NASCAR. The 18-year-old added an impressive third Xfinity Series victory to his resume after besting Cindric and road ace, A.J. Allmendinger at The Glen last weekend.
All signs point to Allmendinger solidifying his bid as Cindric’s biggest competition as the playoff inch closer, but there’s still lots of action to be had with six regular-season races remaining.
Max Papis was slated to make his long awaited return to NASCAR for the first time since 2013, but after testing positive for COVID-19, he’ll be replaced by J.J. Yeley in the No. 17. Giorgio Maggi and Sage Karam will be making their Xfinity Series debuts in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard.
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The NASCAR Xfinity Series gets things started on August 13 with practice at 5:30 p.m. ET. The following day the developmental series will set the field with qualifying at 10:05 a.m. ET, followed by the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Get your first look at the NASCAR Cup Series in action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with practice on August 14 at 11:05 a.m. ET, with qualifying taking place the next day at 9 a.m. ET and the Verizon 200 green flag waving at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.