After a wild race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers head to the world-renown Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the sixth annual Lilly Diabetes 250. The race will be consist of two stages of 30 laps each and a final stage of 40 laps for a race total of 100 laps.
40 drivers are scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis. There will be six notable Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the field including Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Erik Jones.
This weekend will look different for fans as NASCAR as brought a new competition package exclusively for Indianapolis. The 2016 spoiler and splitter will be reimplemented, new aero ducts attached to the front bumper, and a 7/8-inch restrictor plate will be used. The goal of this package is to create close racing and passing opportunities for drivers. The new implementations are erected to increase the drat envelope by 25%.
Teams will have six sets of Goodyear tires at their disposal for the whole event at Indianapolis. Teams will run the same tire combination on the right side of the car as they did last season. The left-side tire compound is slated to provide more grip
This will be the sixth event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Xfinity Series. There have only been two pole winners and three race winners. Three races have been won from the pole with Ky. Busch being the last driver to do so last season. In 2014, Ty Dillon set the race record at 137.153 mph. In 2016, Ky. Busch set the pole winning speed at 181.939 mph.
Here is what drivers are saying about this weekend at Indianapolis:
“I am stoked to be going to Indy this weekend, it isn’t every day that we are able to race at such a historic track. This will be an interesting race to see how it plays out with NASCAR adding restrictor plates to the cars this week,” said Matt Tifft. “Everyone will be on the same playing field where strategy will be a huge determining factor in who comes out on top. With Indy being narrow, it will be important for our No. 19 Camry to get up front and stay there so that we don’t get wrapped up in any wrecks.”
“I tested this superspeedway package at IMS and I think we are definitely going to be in a pack, but I really don’t know how it’s going to race with 39 other cars. At the test we did it with three, but it’s going to change a lot when we get a whole pack out there. It’s a unique situation, something we’ve never done in NASCAR with a track like IMS and a Superspeedway package,” said Ryan Reed.
"It is going to be incredible to roll through the gates at Indianapolis and know the history you are amongst. To know the past, the people that have run there and won there, it's truly incredible. Especially coming from the short track background, where you read all of the stories of everyone back in the 1960s, '70s and even before, and how they wanted to get to Indy and that was their goal,” said Daniel Hemric. “To know that nonchalantly we're going there this week is pretty incredible. I'm looking forward to it. I know it is a place where RCR has had success in the past, which is always a good thing. I've won races at the old IRP short track and other tracks in the area, but to know we'll be battling there on the main stage in the Blue Gate Bank Chevrolet is pretty cool.”
On Friday, Xfinity teams will be the only drivers on the track. Teams will have two practice sessions at 1:00 p.m. EDT and 3:00 p.m. EDT on the NBC Sports App. Xfinity teams will qualify at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday and race at 3:30 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports Network. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network, in conjunction with Performance Racing Network, will have radio coverage of the Lilly Diabetes 250.
Once again, inspection issues plagued the qualifying sessions at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
When qualifying began in the NASCAR Xfintiy Series, there were roughly 10 teams sitting in the inspection line at the LIS station. Luckily, all teams were able to make a lap in the session due to the cleanup from three spins on the racing surface.
However, Kyle Larson was not lucky during Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. The team went through the LIS at least four times before ultimately giving up as the clock ran out on qualifying.
At Kentucky, NASCAR began issuing tougher penalties to teams who decide they want to play games in inspection. One of the penalties was moving practice holds to the final practice session of the weekend. The sanctioning body is also looking at taking away a set of tires from teams. NASCAR is also taking away the “hard cards” of crew chiefs for a certain amount of time, forcing them to get paper credentials from each track.
NASCAR is keeping teams in check by forcing their hand when it comes to the inspection process. Teams called on NASCAR earlier in the season to keep a stiff hand.
In an effort to make the racing better after a repave at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) ran the tire dragon across the middle to lower grooves of the track.
However, when NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams arrived to the track on Wednesday for practice, they were upset with where the speedway ran the tire dragon. The speedway confirmed they ran the tire dragon where they did last year based on the racing.
SMI officials were adamant that they knew what they were doing, until Friday. After more outcry from drivers, SMI ran the tire dragon in an eight foot section from the middle groove up before and after the postponed NASCAR Xfinity Series event.
After the Xfinity and Cup race, there was no noticeable difference in the racing based on where the track ran the tire dragon. The only difference was found from within the cockpit when drivers would get out of the bottom groove that the track would catch the car and not send the driver for a spin,
With stage racing in place, competition cautions should have been deemed unnecessary especially with short stage lengths in the Truck and Xfinity series.
Despite rains throughout the day before the Truck race, NASCAR did not issue a competition caution. Why? The first and second stage had lengths of 35 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, there was a competition caution despite the opening stage lengths being only 45 laps.
NASCAR should look at potentially removing competition cautions in the Truck and Xfinity Series due to the shorter stage length. The stage lengths in these series is usually shorter than the length of a fuel run. Teams cannot fuel the car before the competition caution.
For the “old-school” fan in NASCAR, Kentucky Speedway offered what they wanted: the “good ole days.”
The older fan in NASCAR tends to focus on how “terrible” the racing is today and how back in the day during the era of Richard Petty and Bobby Allison was better than the on-track product NASCAR produces today.
The Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway mixed in the new and old age of NASCAR. The race at Kentucky Speedway was dominated by Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Busch, who combined led all but 10 laps during the race.
Taking away the fact that this was a repave, this race reminded fans today of what NASCAR’s “golden” era provided, single file racing and barely any passes for the lead.
NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway officials did their best effort by running the tire dragon in the middle and lower grooves before and during the race weekend, but that made no difference whatsoever in the overall quality of the event.
Across the board, everyone hates repaves on racetracks. However, new repaved lives matter. You have to applaud every plausible effort NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway did to make the racing here exciting, but the race did not provide that excitement.
Despite being a new repave, NASCAR did not bring a new aero package to “test” at Kentucky Speedway. Did that change the potential of the race? Absolutely.
Although there were bursts of excitement on the restarts, Kentucky Speedway provided single-groove racing.
“I mean the track is to me, it’s just really lane sensitive, so you have to be right on the bottom it is pretty much the quickest way. So, the restarts are all you’ve got. I mean it’s Kentucky. It was like this last year if I remember,” said Kasey Kahne.
Did stage racing save the Quaker State 400 from absolute disaster?
“Stage racing and all these restarts, the fact that it is so hard to pass there is just an environment that is created with this style of racing. You’ve got to get everything you can on a restart and everybody is at ten tenths. The old days of pointing someone by or maybe letting somebody go until your tires came in are long gone,” said Jimmie Johnson.
What can be done to save racing on repaves? Brad Keselowski believes that something can be done with the cars. “It is time for the sport to design a new car that is worthy of where this sport deserves to be and the show it deserves to put on for its fans,” said Keselowski.
Martin Truex, Jr. responded to Keselowski’s comments: “He's on the driver's council. He's a big part of the lower downforce and he's a big part of the direction everybody is going. So yeah, he was probably just mad because he got wrecked.”
NASCAR is working day in and day out to making the competition on the track better. Where will this lead us? Only time will tell!
For the old school fan, this race should satisfy how great the racing was “back in the day” with follow the leader racing. If it wasn’t for the free pass and wave around, we could have saw only a handful of the cars on the lead lap instead of nine.
However, the racing we saw tonight at Kentucky Speedway, despite it being a repave, is not how the sport will attract the younger fan base, a base that NASCAR so desperately needs for it to be around in the future. It is time for the older fans to sit back and enjoy the racing we currently have.
SPARTA, Ky-- Before and after the Alsco 300, Kentucky Speedway, and NASCAR deemed it necessary to run the tire dragon in the middle groove, after complaints from the drivers.
Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney are two of the handful of drivers that will run in tonight’s Quaker State 400 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“When I lost the lead on that last restart - when I slid up in three I didn’t wreck and I think I would have wrecked if the Tire Dragon wasn’t brought out. I was up in that third lane. I think that kind of saved me a little bit. I thought that was good. I saw that move made a couple times in the Truck race and people spun out. I didn’t see that today. I saw a lot of cars get loose and slide up to that lane and it kind of caught halfway and they were able to keep going,” said Blaney, who finished second in the Alsco 300. “Hopefully that will help out. I ran kind of high in one and two coming back through the field and it seemed to have some grip like half a lane up. It didn’t hurt at all getting that Tire Dragon out this morning. Hopefully tonight the Cup cars will get really slick on the bottom and we will be forced to move around. That is usually what happens and I am hopeful for that.”
“Yeah, until they oil down the backstretch and that lane getting into turn three, I thought the track was really racey. Hopefully they can burn that in a little bit more down the backstretch and that quick dry that they put down in order to take up some of that oil, they can burn that off and get it back to black instead of white. After that, it got to being about one groove again and I didn’t see anybody widening it out,” said Kyle Busch, Also 300 race winner. “You were afraid to get into the white stuff because the car will just take off up the race track on you. The other thing I saw was the race track was really good in one and two, it got really wide and definitely nothing out there to race in, but at least it’s safe if you do slip and get out there and you can still catch your car. There’s room for lapped cars to go out there and not feel that they’re going to crash. They were pretty mindful of the leaders today and we’ll see how all that goes tonight.
Running the tire dragon in the middle groove of the racetrack is reversal from Thursday afternoon!
"I think we know what we're doing," Steve Swift told NBC Sports in a Thursday interview.
The vice president of operations and development for Speedway Motorsports Inc. said they ran the tire dragon here at Kentucky Speedway after an overwhelming positive response from driver’s after the 2016 event.
"I think what a lot of drivers are forgetting is this track was resurfaced," Swift said. "It's a brand new racetrack. So on a new track, you have to put rubber down in what is the groove, not what you want the groove to be."
Track officials plan to run an eight-foot-side section in the middle of the turns, working upwards.
SPARTA, Ky-- From starting from the pole, Kyle Busch was victorious in the Alsco 300 from Kentucky Speedway.
“It’s nice to get to victory lane anytime you can. It’s been a heck of the year on the bad end for us. It’s nice to have this as a turn around. The Camry’s have been fast all year long. It’s fun to have the opportunity to run in this series, I enjoy it,” said Kyle Busch in victory lane.
This is the second win in a row at Kentucky Speedway in the July race. This is his 88th career win and 35th win from the pole.
After an outside tire violation on the final pit stop, Ryan Blaney was able to pass Erik Jones in the closing laps to finish in the second position,
“I didn’t really have a lot of fun but it was nice to have a good race car that we could pick our way through the field. We got it really good at the end. We were good all day. I thought we were the best car all day, personally. Before that last caution. I thought we were going to get by the 20 and set sail. The caution came out and we were debating on whether to pit or not, said Blaney. "It is easy to look back on it now and say that we should have stayed out and seen what happened. I thought the right call was to pit and we just had a violation. That stings. It almost stings worse running all the way up there and finishing second than if we would have finished 10th or something. Not where we wanted to be but hopefully we learned some stuff for tonight. It is fun to have this double-header. It is disappointing. I think you have to look at the positives and know we had a really fast car and that is something to build off of.”
After being passed by Blaney in the closing laps and running up front for majority of the race, E. Jones finished in the third position.
Kevin Harvick, Ty Dillon, Joey Logano, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10.
There were seven lead changes among four drivers. The caution flew eight times for 44 laps. The time of the race was two hours, 30 minutes, and 56 seconds. The average speedway 119.258 mph.
Next up for the Xfinity Series is a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Overton's 200 on July 15th. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 4:00 p.m EDT