Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – SPEEDWAY, IN – Three of Tyler Reddick’s four career NASCAR Cup Series victories have come on road courses, but his win last year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course stands out above the others for the driver of the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.
On July 31 of last year, driving for Richard Childress Racing, Reddick avoided the tumult in Turn 1 to score a 1.065-second victory over runner-up Austin Cindric. His return to the speedway this weekend brought the memory of that win into sharp focus.
“This is just an incredible venue,” Reddick said on Saturday. “It has been around for so long. It has so much history. It’s pretty crazy to roll up on this place. My son (Beau) pointed out that I’m on the grandstands over here.
“It’s pretty surreal. I remember so much of it—those memories will always stay with me.”
Observing Indy from afar in his younger days, the 27-year-old Reddick grew to appreciate the legend and history of the place.
“I never got to come experience a lot of racing here when I was younger, but I always watched, always paid attention,” Reddick said. “That Sunday earlier in the year when Monaco is on, Indy is on and then we go race the (Coca-Cola) 600 is probably one of my favorite days of the year to be able to watch so much motorsports.
“I hope to be able, one day, to be here for it all on that Sunday in the future. I always enjoyed watching it. It feels like the racer’s holiday, but being on the walls in the museum here is pretty crazy. It didn’t seem real in the moment, when it happened last year, but the trophy is real. I hope to be able to do it again.”
Who knew? Kevin Harvick was driving hurt this summer
Everyone knows auto racing can be a dangerous sport, but in Kevin Harvick’s case, it was a staircase that did the damage.
During NASCAR’s off week in June, Kevin Harvick accompanied his son Keelan to Italy, where Keelan, then 10 years old, was racing go-karts.
“I fell down a flight of steps in Italy and had a stack of busted ribs for several weeks,” Harvick acknowledged Saturday to the surprise of the assembled media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So Harvick was driving with cracked ribs at Nashville and Chicago without making the news public—a very Earnhardt-like thing to do.
Now in his final season of NASCAR Cup racing, Harvick feels a special fondness for Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he won three times on the oval.
“My last race on the oval I won, so I feel pretty good about that,” said Harvick, who won the Brickyard 400 in 2003, 2019 and 2020. “It just kind of ended up that way.”
International Cast highlights Cup race on Indy Road Course
Drivers from seven different countries will populate the grid for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.
In addition to United States, the following countries will be represented: Mexico (series regular Daniel Suárez), New Zealand (Shane van Gisbergen); England (Jenson Button); Japan (Kamui Kobayashi); Germany (Mike Rockenfeller) and Australia (Brodie Kostecki).
By now, van Gisbergen is a household name to NASCAR fans, after his triumph in his first Cup start on the Chicago Street Course. Kostecki, from Perth in Western Australia, is a bit more obscure, having won twice in the Repco Supercars Championship in his native country.
“I was actually pretty scared after I found out I was doing this race,” Kostecki said Saturday morning in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center. “I went back through the last two years to study pretty quickly on how the race played out and what it was like in Turn 1.
“Obviously, this weekend, there have been changes to the restart zone. It was a bit interesting going back through and watching how the races played out. I honestly think it will be quite a bit different this weekend with the restart zone.”
To diminish the possibility of cars arriving five-wide into the first turn, NASCAR has moved the restart zone between Turns 13 and 14. A similar move on the Chicago Street Course in July was effective in reducing the chaos in the first corner.
Nevertheless, Button, a former Formula 1 champion, expects heightened aggression to be the norm in NASCAR’s Next Gen cars.
“In NASCAR, I feel it’s so competitive,” Button said. “On restarts, they’re way more ‘on it’ than any other series I’ve raced in… The Cup Series, for me, from Lap 1 to the last lap, they are ‘on it’ every single lap. There’s no rest. You cannot breathe in a race in the Cup Series.
“It’s impressive—it really is. I was shocked when I did my first race.”
ARCA race at IRP provides a glimpse of NASCAR’s future
Jesse Love won his seventh ARCA Menards Series of the season on Friday evening at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
That in itself was not a shocker, given that Love has won 58 percent of the national events on the 2023 schedule and holds an 82-point lead over former “Malcolm in the Middle” actor Frankie Muniz in the series standings.
But Love had to work hard for his victory in the Reese’s 200. The 18-year-old Venturini Motorsports driver took advantage of a late restart to beat 19-year-old Wisconsinite Luke Fenhaus to the finish line by .357 seconds.
“Sometimes you just have to will it to happen and find a way,” Love told the NASCAR Wire Service after the race. “He put me in a tough spot when he slid me for the lead (before the final caution). I knew I had one on him that I could kind of return the favor.
“It was still clean. It was a clean slide job, but I was coming up no matter what.”
Fenhaus won his first ARCA start at Iowa and was hoping to become the first driver since current NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Brandon Jones to win his first two races in the series, a feat Jones accomplished in 2014.
This won’t be the last time the two talented drivers battle for a national series win. Pending sufficient sponsorship, you can expect them to progress through higher levels of NASCAR racing sooner rather than later.