Updated: 6:40 p.m.
An Independence Day weekend of racing is set for Indianapolis Motor Speedway that will see the NASCAR Cup Series in action along with an IndyCar-Xfinity Series doubleheader.
Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 will mark the 27th Cup Series race held at the famed 2.5-mile track. After Friday’s announcement that Jimmie Johnson will miss Sunday’s race, there are now four previous event winners in the field led by two-time winners Kevin Harvick (2003, 2019) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2016). Brad Keselowski (2018) and Ryan Newman (2013) each have one victory.
Denny Hamlin, who won his series-season leading fourth race this past Sunday, is one of the drivers looking to add his name to the Brickyard 400 winners list.
"Coming off the strong weekend at Pocono, I’m looking forward to getting to Indy and trying to get my first win at The Brickyard," Hamlin said. "It’s another crown jewel race and one I’d like to add to my collection. This FedEx team is really strong right now and that’s a testament to all the hard work at the shop preparing our cars and giving us the chance to be strong from the start of the first run each week. All the guys are really on top of their game and that makes it fun to drive these cars. I know we have a shot to win every weekend when we show up at the track.
"This weekend at Indy will be a little different with IndyCar competing at the track too, but I’m excited to see how it plays out."
Indianapolis’ new date on the schedule follows a track that has some similar characteristics in Pocono, which hosted two races last weekend and saw Hamlin and defending Brickyard winner Kevin Harvick go to Victory Lane.
"Turn two at Pocono is similar to Indy’s corners," said Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart. "That’s what teams tend to focus on leaving Pocono, trying to apply something to Indy. Although turn two at Pocono has gotten rougher over the years, so even that’s not a straight application."
See Also: Can Pocono Success Translate to Indy?
Saturday’s Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 will be the first NASCAR race held on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at Indy. The series has raced the previous eight seasons on the 2.5-mile oval. The 62-lap race will follow the IndyCar Series race on the road course.
AJ Allmendinger, who will compete in his fifth race of the season for Kaulig Racing, won the last race held on a road course for the series at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
"We’re getting ready for Indy, a historic Xfinity race on the road course for the first time," Allmendinger said. "I’m pumped for it.
"I’m looking forward to a doubleheader with IndyCar on Saturday. It’s all going to be on NBC and NBC Sports. I will be starting at the back again and will have to drive to the front."
Series points leader Chase Briscoe, who is from Mitchell, Ind., won the inaugural Charlotte Roval race in 2018.
"The next two weeks really are home races for me," Briscoe said. "Obviously Indianapolis is my home race, but Kentucky is really five or six miles closer to my hometown than Indianapolis is. Both of them are really big, but Indianapolis specifically would mean the world to me to win."
See Also: Briscoe Back Home Again
Team Penske’s Austin Cindric has recorded top-three finishes in his last five road course starts, including a pair of wins in 2019.
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier also has two wins and seven top 10s in the last eight road course events.
"This is going to be a big weekend for our series," Allgaier said. "I think anytime you run on a new track everybody wants to be the first one to win and there are a lot of guys that are going to be gunning for that opportunity."