From beginning to end, Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Road Course was complete chaos, providing one of the series’ most insane events in recent memory.
However, in near identical fashion to last season’s inaugural running of the event, the closing laps of Sunday’s 200-mile contest were filled with discussions of penalties, as well as tempers flaring on the track.
While the action on-track was intense throughout most of the event – with cars constantly spinning and running off-track – the intensity began to pick up inside the race’s final 20 laps, after a caution for a nasty accident between Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon.
Despite some contact on the ensuing restart, things remained mostly clean until Christopher Bell flat-spotted a right-front tire with five laps to go, leaving debris on the track and forcing the caution flag.
As past NASCAR Cup Series events have taught us, late-race restarts, especially on road courses, don’t usually end up being clean, which was again the case on Sunday, as three separate incidents – and Austin Dillon being trapped in the gravel – drew the fifth and final caution of the afternoon.
In NASCAR Overtime, Tyler Reddick perfectly executed the restart, getting an advantage on the field by the time the Richard Childress Racing driver exited turn two – or at least that’s what he thought.
After being on the outside of a four-wide situation on the restart, Ross Chastain elected to go straight into the run-off area, using the access road to re-enter the track, albeit right alongside Reddick.
NASCAR deemed that Chastain’s move was illegal, as he gained an advantage from using the access road, which would result in a 30-second time penalty. However, Chastain found himself passing Reddick.
Even though Chastain was penalized – but presumably had not been told – Reddick was able to take the position back from the Trackhouse Racing driver, and held off advances from behind in order to secure the victory.
Reddick’s triumph on Sunday was his second in the NASCAR Cup Series, both of which have come on road courses, as well as his second of the season, gaining him a valuable five playoff points that he’ll carry with him through the playoffs.
Chastain was the second driver to cross the start-finish line, but with his 30-second time penalty was relegated to a finish of 27th.
Austin Cindric – who won the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Indy’s Road Course last season – finished in the runner-up position, with fellow Rookie of The Year Contenders Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland finishing third and fourth place.
After an incident with Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain on the second lap of the event, Bubba Wallace rounded out the top-five finishers.
Joey Logano finished in sixth place, with an exhausted AJ Allmendinger coming home in seventh for Kaulig Racing. Michael McDowell, Cole Custer, and Chris Buescher rounded out a top-10 that featured seven Fords.
Chase Elliott, who was on the front row for the second-to-last restart, was involved in an incident when Ryan Blaney tagged him in turn one, which caused the No. 9 to spin to the right side of the track and make significant contact with teammate William Byron.
Elliott would finish the race in 16th, ending his five-race streak of top-two results, but extending his regular-season points lead to 125 points over Ryan Blaney, with Ross Chastain in third 129 points back.
After Sunday’s Verizon 200, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the 23rd race of the 2022 season, which will take place Sunday, July 7th in Brooklyn, Michigan.