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August 11, 2023

What to Watch: Indianapolis brings international flavor to Cup Series field

Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

(⏰ Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC, NBC Sports App | 📻 IMS Radio, SiriusXM)

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race in Indianapolis, the 24th points-paying race of the 2023 Cup Series campaign.

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | Indianapolis 101

📍 Location: Speedway, Indiana
📐 Track length: 2.439 miles
🎟️ Buy tickets: Find weekend passes, seats for the race
💰 Cup Series race purse: $9,158,803
📏 Race distance: 82 laps | 199.998 miles
🔢 Stages: 15 | 35 | 82

🚪 Entry list: Cup Series drivers entered
📋 Starting lineup: Suárez on pole at Indy
🚗 Pit stall assignments:
See where drivers will pit
🏆 Most recent winner: Tyler Reddick, summer 2022

Key things to watch 🔑

Saturday’s sessions

Entering the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course five points below the elimination line, Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suárez sent a strong message by taking the Busch Light Pole Award in qualifying. Suárez earns his third career NASCAR Cup Series pole at the most important time of the year as he hopes to solidify his spot in the postseason. The driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet will start alongside 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick. Chase Elliott, Michael McDowell and Kyle Busch complete the top-five starters. | Read the full practice, qualifying recap

Big story line

Can an international driver reach Victory Lane? Including the American-born drivers, seven countries will be represented in Sunday’s race. Joining Daniel Suárez (Mexico) in a field with an international flavor are Shane van Gisbergen (New Zealand), Brodie Kostecki (Australia), Jenson Button (United Kingdom), Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany). In contention for a playoff spot, Suárez needs a win the most out of this group. The Trackhouse Racing driver is five points out from a postseason berth, with only three races remaining in the regular season. Prioritizing stage points will certainly help Suárez’s case as time runs out on the regular season, but a win at Indy would help him rest easier for the next couple of weeks. Chicago Street Course winner van Gisbergen makes his second career Cup Series start in Trackhouse’s Project 91 car, looking to win two races in two starts. Suárez and van Gisbergen are two of six foreign-born drivers to win a Cup Series race. Kostecki (Richard Childress Racing) and Kobayashi (23XI Racing) probably have the best chance of becoming the seventh international driver to win at the premier level, despite the huge challenges ahead in their Cup Series debuts. | Relive SVG’s history-making moment in Chicago

History tells us…

AJ Allmendinger will be someone to watch. Whenever NASCAR heads to a road course, Allmendinger is always one of the early favorites to win. In 2021, he gave Kaulig Racing the organization’s first and only win in the Cup Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. Last year, he finished seventh. Entering Sunday’s race, Allmendinger is only one of two drivers to finish in the top 10 in both Indy road races. In his last seven road-course starts, the driver of the No. 16 Chevrolet has five top-1o finishes. More is on the line this year at Indy because Allmendinger is only 24 points below the elimination line. Given his comfort level at these types of tracks, Indy and next weekend at Watkins Glen seem like Allmendinger’s best chances to punch a ticket to the postseason by simply winning. The one possible paint point? His uncharacteristic 26th-place starting position. | Preview Show: Will a familiar face kiss the bricks?

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Chris Buescher. With only a few weeks remaining until the 2023 Cup Series playoffs, RFK Racing is building plenty of momentum at the right time. Buescher comes to Indianapolis riding a two-race win streak, after visiting Victory Lane in back-to-back weeks at Richmond and Michigan. On Sunday, the No. 17 team could win its third consecutive Cup Series race. While Buescher enters the Indianapolis race weekend with 20-1 odds of taking the checkered flag again, his recent success on road courses means another win cannot be ruled out. The RFK driver currently has eight consecutive top-10 finishes on road courses, which is the longest streak among active drivers. Given Buescher’s hot streak the last couple of weeks, look for him to make it nine straight top 10s turning left and right, including a realistic shot at his third win of 2023. | Kyle Petty: ‘We are witnessing the birth of Chris Buescher’

Familiar favorites ⭐️

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– At-track photos: See the best images from Indianapolis weekend | Photos
– Bubble Watch: Road-course aces get their chance to shine | See where drivers stand
– Paint Scheme Preview:
See the schemes for Indianapolis | Pick a favorite
– Power Rankings: RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher gained four positions after going back-to-back at Richmond and Michigan | Latest driver rankings
– Stacking Pennies:
Corey LaJoie chats with Australian Supercars driver Brodie Kostecki ahead of his Cup Series debut | Listen to the podcast

💎 NASCAR 75: Learn more about the history of the sport, from pioneers to current stars | Visit NASCAR 75 hub

Get in on the action 💰

Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy and Fan Rewards.

– Fantasy Live: Participate in interactive gameplay from week to week | Choose your lineup
– Fan Rewards: New in 2023, get rewarded for your participation | Learn more
– NASCAR BetCenter: Don’t miss your chance to make picks each week | Visit the BetCenter
– Going the distance:
2023 Cup Series championship odds | See them here

🔮 Advance to Victory Lane: Racing Insights projects the finishing order