THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR Cup Series at Indy: Verizon 200 picks, preview
This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads for the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Verizon 200. This is the second time they will be racing on the road course configuration, and this time the track will be much improved from last year. When we last saw them race here, it was a complete disaster. Entering turns four and five, there were a set of curbs that would launch the cars into the air. This took out several of the contenders such as Kyle Busch, William Byron and Joey Logano. Thankfully, track officials caught wind of this and took out the curbing that caused all these issues. We should see a much cleaner race than we did last season.
Last week, it appeared that Denny Hamlin went on to score his third victory of 2022 and his seventh career victory at Pocono. While it started off rocky after he spun early in the race, everything came up aces for him. They had great pit-stops, a race winning strategy, and Hamlin even got his revenge on his rival Ross Chastain. It was the perfect day for the #11 team as he and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch took the checkered flag in first and second. When the race was over and all the celebrations were done, both Busch and Hamlin's cars failed post-race inspection and their win was vacated. This was the first time since 1960 that a winner was disqualified in the Cup Series. The culprit? A piece of clear tape over the right-front fascia. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, this can drastically change the aerodynamics of the car. NASCAR has been explicitly clear that they will not tolerate any teams modifying the bodies of these race cars, and Joe Gibbs Racing learned the hard way.
Michael McDowell would also receive a massive penalty for a similar infraction, he would be assessed a 100 point penalty and would also lose his stage and playoff points as well. He would fall from 20th to 26th place in the standings. He will have to win if he wants to make the playoffs.
Kurt Busch will miss this weekend's race at Indy after suffering a concussion in practice last week. This has been one of the most difficult news items to process. He has had such a huge impact on this sport and has been a massive part of 23XII’s success. Let's hope he is back in the car here soon.
The driver I have winning this week is a bit of a wildcard, but I am taking Austin Cindric. While it seems like a bit of a surprise, Cindric has a lot of track time here at this racetrack and on road courses in general. It has been an up and down last four races for the young rookie, but he’s scored two top ten finishes at Road America and at Nashville. He’s also been extremely fast on road courses, as he’s finished at least in the top ten on each of the road courses they have run this year. He will need a bounce back win just in case there are more than sixteen winners and his Daytona 500 victory won’t suffice. I look for him to bring the #2 Ford Mustang back to victory lane come Sunday.