Note: IMS/PRN has radio coverage of Monday’s races.
There are a number of stories to keep an eye on during the running of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard.
No Qualifying and Practice
The Indianapolis area has been engulfed in rain for days, postponing the race to Monday and canceling qualifying and practice on Saturday.
“From our standpoint, I think we are both pretty good with it,” Jimmie Johnson said about having no on-track activity prior to the race. “Just our journey over this year, we usually end up back to our set-up that we unloaded with, so if we are forced to start with the set-up we unloaded with, I think we’ll be in great shape. It will save some frustration along the way (laughs). An no qualifying? Hell, this is great!”
There will be competition cautions at Lap 10 and Lap 30 for the Brickyard 400.
Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott and JJ Yeley each competed in the Xfinity Series race earlier in the day.
Sunday is the final race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season and the only way for a number of drivers outside the playoff grid to make the post-season is to win. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in the 17th spot behind Alex Bowman, who has the last playoff position, and leads this group that includes Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Paul Menard and Bubba Wallace. (Read More)
Race for the Top
On the other end of the spectrum is the regular season points championship and Kyle Busch leads Kevin Harvick by 39 points in that battle. Since qualifying was rained out, the starting lineup was set by the standings putting Busch and Harvick side-by-side on the front row. An additional 15 playoff points are available to the driver who finishes on top of the standings after the checkered flag at Indy.
“That’s what’s most meaningful is those bonus points to carry you on through each round of the playoffs,” Busch said. “You get those for every segment, so that’s going to be important.”
Kahne Not Able
Defending race winner Kasey Kahne will not be able to try for back-to-back Indianapolis victories. Kahne is suffering from extreme heat exhaustion and dehydration after last week’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and will be replaced in the Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet by Regan Smith. In 213 career Cup starts between 2007 and 2017, Smith has 13 top 10s, four top fives, and a win at Darlington in 2011.
Starting at the Back
Furniture Row Racing’s, Martin Truex Jr. will have to start at the rear of the field after the No. 78 Toyota failed pre-race inspection three times. Daniel Suarez will also be forced to the back after his No. 19 Toyota failed four times. (Read More)
Focus on Furniture Row
Speaking of Furniture Row, the news of defending series championship team shutting down at season’s end sent shockwaves through the NASCAR world. How the impact of the decision by team owner Barney Visser to cease operations due to lack of sponsorship on the team’s performance will be front and center the rest of the year beginning Sunday in Indianapolis. Several sources report Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn will migrate to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019, but there remains a great deal of uncertainty around the rest of the operation’s future.
Team owner Roger Penske owns 17 Indianapolis 500 victories but has never visited Victory Lane at the historic track in the Cup Series. Last week drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished 1-2 at Darlington and along with Ryan Blaney the trip hopes to end “The Captain’s” drought on Sunday.
“This is a cool place and special to drive for Roger Penske,” said Blaney, who is also entered in the Xfinity Series race. “I have a couple of chances, and hopefully we can make that happen.”