By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – One at a time, drivers raced over the deteriorating curbs late in the fifth and sixth corners of Brickyard 200. One by one they got off course.
When NASCAR Cup Series racing resumed after track workers removed the curb, seven other cars achieved similar results on the same section of Indianapolis’ road circuit on Sunday.
It looked like a demolition derby and the race organizers have a lot to think about before next year’s race.
“Of course we had our problems today,” said Scott Miller, vice president of NASCAR competition. “We’re going to take a lot of the knowledge and come back and have a better event to obviously avoid the problems we had today. But I think,” We saw some exciting action out there and I think the course itself is really one puts on a good show. “
The entertainment value turned out to be expensive.
Nine of the eleven cars that did not finish were involved in accidents. Many of those who ended up running looked like they’d been involved in a bumpy short track or dirt track race rather than a street circuit.
As a result, most cup teams will be spending this week repairing and rebuilding their cars after a second straight road race. You’re returning for an oval Sunday in Michigan, and for some, it can’t come soon enough.
Organizers will likely investigate whether the wear and tear from three days of practice, qualifying, and racing on a rare crossover weekend with the IndyCar, NASCAR Xfinity, and Cup series played any role in the messy finish.
“The curbing is the same style we’ve had since it was built. It has been replaced, repaired, ”said Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We’ve never really had a problem with these curbs. We looked at this section every session, every evening, every morning there was no indication that anything was ever wrong with it, so it’s a bit of a surprise for us. “
The drivers were also surprised.
William Byron, the pole winner and first to fall, prepared for the first brickyard on the 14-turn, 2.4-mile course by working on a simulator with IndyCar driver Rinus VeeKay. And yet, said Bryon, he had never seen anything like it.
Others went public with their complaints.
“I already miss the oval,” said playoff contender Austin Dillon after he was eliminated in the second hand-to-hand fight.
Dillon noted that the drivers played a role too, and Brickyard winner AJ Allmendinger, a former open-wheel driver, agreed.
“If you hit them wrong, you pay the price,” he said of the harassment. “Unfortunately that was a huge price and we don’t need it. At the same time, we really have to go over it. I thought the circuit had the right restrictions. Unfortunately, the curb was only just coming up.
The wild finish overshadowed a relatively safe, fascinating race. Only 11 of the first 78 laps were driven under yellow – two at the end of the first two stages and two because of debris on the track.
When the curb peeled off, things quickly changed. Series officials debated whether to cancel the race early, but track workers managed to clear the curb. Then the question was whether a second chicane should be removed. NASCAR chose to keep it.
“When we were working on putting it together for the Xfinity race last year, there was a lot of demand from the riders to have something back there because that section was way too fast,” said Miller. “We didn’t want to register for that.”
Then, just moments after restarting, the destruction happened again in the same section, causing a second red flag.
It’s not the first time the brick factory has left town amid controversy. Tire problems plagued the Brickyard 400 in 2008 and again in 2020. After a delay in rain and a number of subsequent falls, the Brickyard 400 was finished in 2017 at sunset.
Still, there was a large crowd that weekend, along with the intense races Boles and Miller said they would prefer to keep the 2022 Cup cars on the road – if they can solve Sunday’s problems.
“I think we made the right decision for the moment and I think we want it back on the road next year so we’ll see where we go,” said Boles. “I don’t think it will have any effect”. “
Miller added, “Neither do I.”
More AP car races: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.