The NASCAR Cup Series is set for its trip to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this season. Speedway, Indiana, will play host to Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered By Big Machine Records (4 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). This weekend marks the third crown-jewel event in 2020.
As has been the case with other events since the sport’s return after the COVID-19 outbreak, Sunday’s race will be held without practice or qualifying.
The event will tally the 16th NASCAR Cup Series races of the year; the 12th since the coronavirus pause. With plenty of variables in play for the Fourth of July weekend, here’s a primer with helpful information.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as the Brickyard, is a 2.5-mile rectangular oval. All four turns have a 9.2-degree bankings and are about 1,320-feet long. The straightaways are flat, with the long ones being 3,300 feet and the shorts one being 660 feet.
The track was built in 1909, making it the third oldest paved oval (Milwaukee Mile, 1903; Nashville Fairgrounds, 1904). Indianapolis hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series event on Aug. 6, 1994. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He led a race-high 93 of 160 laps and beat Brett Bodine to the finish line by .53 seconds. Gordon, now a NASCAR Hall of Famer, holds the record for most all-time wins at Indianapolis with five.
The facility is also home to the NTT IndyCar Series, which will have its GMR Grand Prix on Saturday right before the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Pennzoil 150 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Between the action Saturday and Sunday, it’ll be the first-ever time that NASCAR’s Cup and Xfinity Series and IndyCar races will be hosted by a single venue.
Sunday’s 400-miler will be the 27th race for NASCAR’s top division at Indianapolis.
Stage 1 is set to end at Lap 50, Stage 2 at Lap 100, and the final stage is slated to conclude on Lap 160.
The NASCAR Cup Series race will be held without practice and qualifying as the sanctioning body tries to limit exposure for on-site personnel to control the spread of coronavirus. Sunday’s starting lineup was determined by a random draw among groups in the team owner standings:
- Positions 1-12: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 13-24: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 25-36: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
- Positions 37-40: Open teams in order of owners points
Pit-stall selection is based on the finishing order from last Sunday’s event at Pocono Raceway.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for intermediate-sized tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 550 horsepower. The cars will use aero ducts in addition to other aerodynamic devices to increase downforce.
The downforce package the NASCAR Cup Series will run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend is hard on tires, with high loads generated down the long straightaways. Search for grip will be important. Teams will have nine sets of tires for Sunday’s race.
Set-up will feature the same right-side tire code as last season but a new left-side code with a construction update — all the same as last weekend at Pocono Raceway.
“Indy is a very tricky place to get right for a stock car,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Last year’s race was run in unseasonably cool temperatures in the low 70s with overcast skies, so there was plenty of grip. This week’s forecast is for 90-degree temperatures and teams will be looking for grip on a hot, slick track and tires will be a key factor. With no practice, and the Xfinity cars running on the road course and not the oval this year, team will have to tread lightly going into this race.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series, meanwhile, will run the same tire code on all four tire positions. It’ll be the same as the set-up ran last season at Road America and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Teams will have two sets of tires for Friday’s practices and five sets for Saturday’s race. They will also be allowed up to four sets of “wets” (two for practices, two for race) if NASCAR decides weather conditions warrant the switch.
STATS TO KNOW
— Nine drivers won the last 10 races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch (2015-16) is the only repeat winner during that timespan.
— Ford has won the last two races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after failing to win in the prior 18 events. Meanwhile, Chevrolet has won 13 of the last 17 races and only one of the wins was within the past five years.
— The final lead change came with two laps to go in three of the last five races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch passed Joey Logano (finished second) for the win in 2015, Kasey Kahne passed Brad Keselowski (finished second) for the win in 2017, and Keselowski passed Denny Hamlin (finished third) for the win in 2018.
— Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while the eight other organizations with wins there have 16 victories combined. HMS has never gone more than three years without winning at the Brickyard. It has been two years since its last win (Kasey Kahne, 2017).
— Jimmie Johnson’s four wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway rank second all time to Jeff Gordon (five), but Johnson also has 11 finishes of 14th or worse there, including five of the last six races.
— Kevin Harvick, who has won three races in 2020, has the longest active top-10 streak at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with six, spanning from 2014-19. Kyle Busch has the all-time longest streak with seven, but it ended in 2016.
Source: NASCAR statistics, Racing Insights
Tune in to television coverage Sunday on NBC (4 p.m. ET) or on the NBC Sports App for both events. For full radio coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, listen in to IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on-air.
RELATED: Ways to follow the races
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
2019 RACE WINNER
Kevin Harvick won the 2019 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard, leading a race-high 118 of 160 laps. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford took the front spot from Ryan Blaney with 30 laps to go and kept it through the checkered flag. Blaney’s Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, finished runner-up by 6.118 seconds. Richard Petty Motorsports’ Bubba Wallace came in third.
Last year, the NASCAR Cup Series’ visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway doubled as the regular-season finale. The race was on Sept. 8, 2019. It has since moved to the Fourth of July weekend for 2020.
RELATED: 2019 Big Machine Vodka 400 recap
ACTIVE INDIANAPOLIS WINNERS
Jimmie Johnson (four); Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch (two); Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman (one)