Only two weeks after Tyler Reddick began July by earning his first career win at Road America, Reddick shocked the NASCAR industry -- and his team, Richard Childress Racing -- by announcing that he would move to 23XI Racing at the end of 2023. But even as Reddick prepares to eventually leave RCR, he isn't going to be headed to his next destination without a couple more trophies.
After dominating the entire race, Tyler Reddick survived a chaotic restart in overtime to win the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis. Reddick led throughout a late-race caution and a final restart, but he ended up having his hands full in the final laps with Ross Chastain, who jumped to the front of the field and the top spot after missing Turn 1 and cutting through the course.
Reddick's win allows him to bookend the month of July with the first two victories of his career, and he now becomes the sixth different driver to win multiple races this season.
Verizon 200 official results
- #8 - Tyler Reddick
- #2 - Austin Cindric (R)
- #21 - Harrison Burton (R)
- #38 - Todd Gilliland (R)
- #23 - Bubba Wallace
- #22 - Joey Logano
- #34 - AJ Allmendinger
- #16 - Michael McDowell
- #41 - Cole Custer
- #17 - Chris Buescher
Reddick's victory comes despite his defecting from RCR to Toyota beginning 2024, a move that admittedly hurt feelings within his current team all the way up to car owner Richard Childress. Despite the awkwardness of the past several weeks, Reddick was able to lead 38 of 86 laps from the pole and dealt with the distraction of Chastain cutting the course all the way to the lead on the final restart.
"That was a scenario that had been talked about. If you get bottled up, what do you do when you take the access road?" Reddick told NBC Sports. "I couldn't believe he got ahead of me. I was kind of waiting to see if he was gonna have a penalty, because I didn't want to move him out of the way and make his race worse than what it was.
"I was really surprised by that, but hey, we made it work. Hats off to Ross for trying to do that. But really glad it didn't end up working out, because I'd have been pretty pissed off."
The Funnel of Pain
From the very drop of the green flag, Turn 1 had been a trouble spot on restarts as drivers went from going three- and four-wide down Indy's main straightaway to trying to funnel into a sharp, narrow corner to enter the infield road course. All incidents were relatively minor and not outside of the boundaries of racing etiquette -- until a blown tire by Christopher Bell set up a restart with three laps to go.
Chase Elliott, who was running second and tried to outbrake Reddick into Turn 1, ended up getting spun by Ryan Blaney. Behind him, Joey Logano entered Turn 1 with zero angle to make the corner, simply pinballing his way through traffic as most of the field began bouncing off of each other and spinning each other out. Then, more contact in the road course itself left Austin Dillon spun out and stuck in the gravel trap, setting up another restart in overtime.
That's where things got really interesting. Not only did Blaney get spun out on the exit of Turn 1, scattering cars throughout the course, but Ross Chastain emerged in front of Tyler Reddick after completely missing the corner in Turn 1 and taking the access road to rejoin the racetrack.
While Chastain took the lead, it was immediately apparent to everyone -- including himself -- that he really wasn't supposed to be up there.
"Just trying to not be in the carnage there in Turn 1," Chastain told NBC Sports. "I thought we were four-wide and couldn't go any farther right, and just decided to take the NASCAR access lane out there ... Just pure reaction there. ... I went to not get hit and merged back on where I merged."
Because he cut the course, Chastain -- as well as Austin Dillon, who did the same thing -- was assessed a 30-second penalty at the finish, relegating him to 27th.
As even the most established of Cup veterans seemingly lost their heads in the final laps, three of the youngest drivers in the field -- all three of whom are fighting for Rookie of the Year honors -- were able to keep theirs on straight and get outstanding finishes.
Austin Cindric emerged from the overtime chaos in second, earning his best finish since winning the Daytona 500 in February. Behind him were his two challengers for the Rookie of the Year title, Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, who earned the best finishes of their young Cup careers in third and fourth, respectively. Burton's first top five marked his second top 10 in the past month, while Gilliland's fourth-place finish capped off a dream weekend that saw the third-generation racer score his best-ever qualifying effort and then lead laps in a Cup race for the first time ever.
As noted by Dustin Albino of Jayski, Sunday's finish marked just the second time in Cup Series history that three rookie drivers have finished in the top five of a race. The only other time was at Pocono in July 1994 when Ward Burton finished second, Joe Nemechek third and Jeff Burton fourth (Coincidentally, Harrison is Jeff's son and Ward's nephew).
Toil and Trouble
One of the most frightening moments possible for a racer is having their brakes go out at the end of a long straightaway, which is exactly what happened to Kyle Larson. The defending Cup champion's brakes went out entering Turn 1 with 18 laps to go, leading to a violent collision between him and innocent bystander Ty Dillon. Despite a brutal impact, both drivers emerged from their cars uninjured.
The ensuing restart ended up having major implications for the playoff bubble, as Kevin Harvick was collected in a crash with Alex Bowman that ended his day and left him with his second straight DNF due to a late-race crash. That dropped Harvick to a full 96 points below Martin Truex Jr. for the final spot in the playoffs, putting Harvick in dire straits with now four races to go in the regular season.
Even those who finished in the top 10 had problems late in the race. A.J. Allmendinger had his cool suit fail, and he ended up falling to the ground from heat exhaustion upon exiting his car in post-race. Joey Logano, meanwhile, stopped and got out of his car in Turn 1 after the checkered flag because it began to catch fire. Both drivers were checked and released from the infield care center in post-race.
Race Results Rundown
- After getting his first career win at Road America to start the month, Tyler Reddick now becomes the latest driver to see both of his first two Cup wins come on road courses. Reddick joins Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose and AJ Allmendinger -- three drivers who came to NASCAR with extensive road racing backgrounds -- in that category.
- Bubba Wallace's hot streak continues, as he earned his third top 10 in a row and his first ever top-five finish on a road course. With his fifth top 10 of the year, Wallace has now tied his career-high mark set in 2020, and he now has an average finish of 5.3 since New Hampshire.
- The tough guy of the race award undoubtedly goes to Chris Buescher. Near the end of Stage 1, something internally in Buescher's car caught fire, bringing him to pit road with flames and black smoke being met by fire extinguishing foam in his cockpit. Despite losing two laps, Buescher was able to get back on the lead lap and deliver a gutsy 10th-place finish before getting treated in the infield care center post-race.
- Despite starting shotgun on the field, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was able to drive into the top 20 and eventually cross the finish line in 13th. That marks Stenhouse's first top-15 finish since the Coca-Cola 600 in May.
- Ty Gibbs, subbing for Kurt Busch for the second week in a row, was just one spot off of where he finished last weekend. Gibbs finished his first full weekend of Cup Series driving duties by finishing 17th.
- Cody Ware used his road racing skills to get a top 10 in Stage 2 and then finished 24th, but he had a little unexpected excursion along the way. Under caution at the end of Stage 1, Ware had to dodge a fan's pop-up canopy that blew onto the track in Turn 2.
- Sunday marked the first-ever stock car race for Daniil Kvyat, an Formula 1 veteran who became the first Russian-born driver to ever compete in NASCAR. Kvyat ran respectably through the first two stages and even earned a shoutout from Hall of Famer Mark Martin, but he was soon sidelined by mechanical issues and finished 36th with a suspension failure.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the outskirts of Motor City and the Irish Hills of the Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.