Race Weekend Central

AJ Allmendinger Scores 2nd Triumph, Maiden Cup Win for Kaulig Amid Indy Road Course Chaos

Four hours, multiple issues with curbing, several big crashes and an overtime penalty for Chase Briscoe later, AJ Allmendinger emerged from the smoke, bent fenders and crumpled sheet metal as the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series’ Verizon 200 at the Brickyard Sunday (Aug. 15).

Sunday marked the first time the NASCAR Cup Series had ever raced on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, a departure from the oval that the series raced on for 27 years. The Brickyard 400 turned into a 200-mile race on a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course that wound its way through the 112-year-old track’s infield.

Allmendinger finished second in Saturday (Aug. 14) afternoon’s Xfinity Series race and was visibly displeased with himself afterward. Sunday provided a bit of redemption as his team, Kaulig Racing, prepares to go full-time Cup racing in 2022. It was the team’s first-ever win at NASCAR’s premier level, coming in just its seventh Cup start.

“Oh, my gosh, I was so mad yesterday,” Allmendinger said. “I wanted to win so bad. I mean, this is unbelievable. In my wildest dreams, I could never imagine the way that just played out. Matt Kaulig … I don’t even know what he’s doing right now. He’s almost in tears. […] We had to fight hard.

“Oh, my God. We just won at Indy.”

See also
AJ Allmendinger Scores 2nd Triumph, Maiden Cup Win for Kaulig Amid Indy Road Course Chaos

The win followed a race marred by two red flags that followed a pair of massive crashes. Both were due to the curbing in turn 6, the first due to said curbing destroying the front end of William Byron’s car and taking out almost a dozen others in the process.

Just a few drivers had experience entering Sunday’s race: 2021 Cup rookie Briscoe won the 2020 Xfinity Series road race at the track, while NXS regular Austin Cindric, in a part-time car for Team Penske, won Saturday’s event on the road course. Justin Haley was the only other driver to have been in at least two races at the layout; several others, including Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon, raced in the 2021 Xfinity contest ahead of Sunday’s race.

Following a strong sixth-place finish at Watkins Glen International last week, Byron scored the pole position for the Indianapolis road course. Briscoe, starting alongside, grabbed the lead on the second lap and stayed out front until he and a host of others pitted just before the end of stage one.

The cycle gave the lead to Michael McDowell, who looked to score a stage victory, but he came under fire from Tyler Reddick. Reddick hounded the No. 34 before finally passing him and winning the stage himself. Byron and Brad Keselowski, the latter yet to pit, waged a hard-fought battle to open stage two, but their fight allowed Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Elliott to grab the lead from both of them. Keselowski’s Team Penske stablemate Joey Logano, meanwhile, took third as Byron dropped like a rock.

Keselowski also fell back and eventually lost control of his No. 2 Ford, sliding out of the groove in turn 11 and pounding the wall.

Reddick swept the stages. Haley, in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77, played strategy and scored points in both as well, while Andy Lally and Corey LaJoie grabbed some in the second segment. Elliott and Kyle Larson swapped positions multiple times while fighting for ninth, with Larson emerging on top and Elliott back in 10th. The top eight pitted, though, leaving Larson and Elliott out front for the start of the final stage.

One of the few cautions for incidents flew just after the restart, with Aric Almirola and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both spinning out of turn 6. It also allowed for some cleanup, with track workers pulling an entire splitter and radiator pan out from under the turtles in turn 5.

Larson led from the restart, with Byron eventually moving up between him and Elliott for an all-Hendrick top three. Denny Hamlin attempted to inch toward the top five with a three-wide move on Logano and Cole Custer into the first turn but locked up his brakes, overshot the two and settled back into ninth.

Green-flag pit stops with just under 30 laps remaining cycled Larson back to the lead. Despite how long Hamlin and Bubba Wallace stayed out, Matt DiBenedetto held off the longest before finally being passed by Larson and ducking to pit road. Larson set sail from there, leading Elliott by five seconds with 10 laps remaining, but a debris caution restacked the field. Elliott lost a chunk of positions after the jack dropped on pit road, relegating him to a spot further back in the top 10.

On the restart, turn 6 proved troublesome again, with Martin Truex Jr. getting spun into the tire barriers and LaJoie hitting the inner curbing of the corner, sending the No. 7 flying in a manner similar to Kris Wright in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

Then, everything hit the fan. The curbing in turn 6, which had been worked on earlier in the race, finally disintegrated. Byron skated over it while chasing the leaders and it ripped apart the splitter and undercarriage of the No. 24, sending him spinning. The chaos sent no fewer than 10 cars following him spinning as well.

Kyle Busch followed Byron and spun in tandem, while Logano had his front end torn apart as well and went violently headlong into the tire barrier and fence in the grass. Haley, Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece and Daniel Suarez spun in the aftermath, while James Davison, Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon followed suit moments later. All drivers escaped under their own power.

The red flag was displayed as crews took to the track and pulled the entire curbing away from the turn, leading to resounding cheers from the fans in attendance.

The crash, red flag and ensuing cleanup led to an overtime finish. It took a seemingly endless amount of caution laps, a half hour’s worth, while the patchwork continued, with safety trucks laying down drying powder and the cars making their way through the turn.

Once mid-race, post-chaos renovations were complete, Hamlin and Larson led the field to green. The field made it through turn 1 but not through turn 6. McDowell hit the inner curbing that hadn’t been removed, catching some air before slamming back down and sliding in front of the field. Reddick and Dillon were both involved to remove Richard Childress Racing from contention. Wallace, meanwhile, dirt-tracked his car to the other side of the curbing, skidding across the grass but saving himself from involvement in that crash.

Larson lost multiple spots on the previous restart, so it was Hamlin and Briscoe who led the field to green in the second attempt at overtime. Briscoe was forced into the grass and cut across on the penultimate lap, rejoining alongside Hamlin, but was penalized for cutting the course. Contact between Hamlin and Briscoe exiting turn 9, looking a bit like retaliation from the No. 14, resulted in a spin for Hamlin. Hamlin and Briscoe finished 23rd and 26th, respectively.

Briscoe’s penalty gave the lead to Allmendinger, driving part-time for Kaulig Racing, and he held on to win his second career race, Kaulig’s first-ever Cup Series race and the first Cup event at the track.

“It was survival of the fittest,” the veteran said of Sunday’s race. “We probably had like an eighth-, 10th-place car, [we] sped on pit road. I thought we were going to finish 12th to 15th, and then those restarts were just insane. It’s great when you have a car owner that just says, ‘go get me trophies.’ He doesn’t care if that thing is torn up.

“[…] We just won at Indy. What’s up! Thank you everybody for coming out. Let’s go!”

Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by Larson, Elliott and DiBenedetto. Kurt Busch was sixth, with Erik Jones, Haley, Austin Cindric and Ryan Newman behind him to round out the top 10.

Briscoe and Hamlin confronted each other on pit road after the race.

“He’s upset,” Briscoe said later. “I would have been, too. I don’t think he realized I didn’t even know I had a penalty until I got to turn 10.”

“I agree it’s not on purpose,” Hamlin said later. “But to me, it’s obvious. If you cut the racetrack and you end up in the lead, you’re going to have a penalty. So … lack of awareness.”


The Cup Series heads north to Michigan International Speedway next week for the FireKeepers Casino 400, which is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 22 with coverage on NBCSN.


About the author

Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Audacy Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

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Tiregate at Indy, now Curbgate. What a total clusterf*ck.


A fun, good race that went off the rails. The last 10 laps ruined the whole event.

Carl D.

You would think that drivers who paid attention to the Xfinity race yesterday would have made it a point to know where the turtles and curbs were today. And wasn’t there some practice time since this was a new track? Not that IMS isn’t culpable as well. Roger Penske might feel good about yesterday’s wins, but he has egg on his face today as owner of IMS.

CONGRATS TO Dinger for a job well done. I’m a longtime fan, and besides, we share the same birthday. Sometimes all you can do is put yourself in a position to take advantage of someone’s else’s misfortune.

P.S. Nice recap, Adam.

Last edited 2 years ago by Carl D.

There is a fix for Curbgate… Get rid of the curbs on every track in the universe and make the drivers use only the pavement, like the tracks were designed and built for. Isn’t the idea to keep it on the pavement?

Could someone please explain why the didn’t use the sweepers in the first turn?


I’m was glad to see they removed the Orange turtle after the Xfinity race however I thought they needed to review “the ramp” to prevent cars from cutting that corner.
The cup race was really good until the final 10 laps. It’s easy to armchair call the race however when I saw the curbing being removed and they didn’t remove the ramp behind the corner curb I knew it was going to be a cluster. Everyone was going to do whatever it took on a green white checker situation and it was technically a different turn at that point.
I’m just glad to see nobody got hurt and I believe Roger will do whatever it takes to make the track right for next year.


To me, the answer seems obvious; remove the front splitter and get the damn cars off the ground! Neither Indycar nor even F1 run a wing right in the ground, so why should NASCAR? If those cars were up just 2 or 3 inches off the ground, no splitters would be getting wedged underneath the curbing to tear them up. Every other road racing series in the world uses them without issue.

The orange turtle on the outside boggled my mind though. Who thought that would be a good idea? I knew it was going to get hit, I just didn’t think it would happen lap 1 of the Xfinity race.

Bill B

Agree with everyone else. I thought it was OK until the fiasco at the end. For the record, anytime the last 3 laps of the race take an hour to complete, the race is a failure in my eyes.


It was like an NCAA Final Four game where it takes 28 minutes to play the last 47 seconds.

Carl D.

When will NASCAR ever learn how to run and officiate a road course race? It’s not that freakin’ hard. I could have mowed the lawn during some of those caution periods.


Why wasn’t Wallace penalized and sent to the rear on the restart? He clearly cut the coarse and just blended in. Not coming to complete stop and restarted 10th!
An obvious clear violation and advantage.
To anyone who has watched and participated in all and many forms of racing for 50 years, nascar has mismanaged races as poorly as I have witnessed.
One for instance is roadcoarses use local yellows for reasons developed for more than 100 years.

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