Briscoe claims inaugural Xfinity race on Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit

In a late battle against the road-course aces, Chase Briscoe made a bold move on A.J. Allmendinger for the lead with two laps remaining and pulled away from a four-car battle for second to win the inaugural Pennzoil 150 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Grand Prix Circuit, NASCAR’s first race on the famed racetrack’s oval-road course design. The victory was Briscoe’s fifth of this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season, the seventh of his career and his first at his hometrack as a native from Mitchell, Indiana.

“Growing up, coming here all the time, it’s unbelievable to think that I just won here,” Briscoe said. “So happy to get HighPoint.com in Victory Lane again. Man, I’m wore out. That fence climbing, that’ll take a lot out of you. From a personal standpoint, the Darlington deal [in May] meant a ton just ‘cause what I was going through, but I’ve dreamed of coming to this racetrack and just getting to race here. To win here, it’s unbelievable. I can’t put into words and to get all our sponsors in Victory Lane driving for Stewart-Haas [Racing] at Indianapolis, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The starting lineup was based on a random draw. Jeb Burton, making his third start of the season in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, drew the pole position and was joined on the front row with teammate Michael Annett.


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When the inaugural road course event at Indianapolis commenced, Burton came out with the lead following the first two turns. He was quickly pursued by Brandon Jones and Justin Allgaier. In Turn 12, Jones made a peak for the lead on the inside lane, but Burton fought back on the outside lane through Turns 13 and 14, and was able to lead the first lap with no incidents occurring behind the leaders. By the first lap, Austin Cindric, one of the favorites who was the fastest in the final practice session on Friday and who started 10th, was in fourth. 

The following lap, Allgaier and Jones went three wide on Burton before Allgaier moved into the lead. By Turn 11, Cindric moved into second and started to narrow the gap between himself and Allgaier while Burton fell back to fifth. By the fourth lap, Allmendinger, another favorite who was the fastest in the first practice session on Friday and who started 30th, had made his way into the top 20, running 19th. On the fifth lap, Cindric emerged with the lead on the frontstretch after crossing over Allgaier and gaining a huge run entering the frontstretch exiting Turn 14. From there, he slowly started to build a gap from Allgaier. Behind the two front-runners, Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe were in third and fifth while Ross Chastain was running in between the Indiana natives.

By Lap 10, Cindric was leading by more than three seconds over Allgaier and more than four seconds over Haley. Behind, Briscoe was in fourth followed by Chastain, Noah Gragson, Jones, rookie Harrison Burton, Quebec’s Alex Labbe and Allmendinger. Jeb Burton, who started on pole, was back in 12th while Jeremy Clements was in 11th. 

Starting on Lap 11, a number of competitors started experiencing on-track issues while navigating the turns at Indy’s road course. It started with Jeffrey Earnhardt limping to pit road after the rear track bar of his No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet broke. Ultimately, he retired due to chassis issues. Another lap later, rookie Anthony Alfredo made an unscheduled pit stop under green when his window net came loose and fell down, a misfortune that cost him a lap. By then, Josh Williams missed the first turn and Preston Pardus ran off the track entering Turn 7. On Lap 15, Jeb Burton reported power steering issues when smoke started billowing out of his car and the Virginia native was dropping positions. He would pit the following lap to have the issue addressed. The following lap, Pardus spun, but he was able to straighten his car with the race remaining under green. 

With three laps remaining in the first stage, the caution flew due to debris from B.J. McLeod, who lost a tire and had limped his way to pit road. At the time of caution, Allmendinger, Jones and rookie Riley Herbst were on pit road for service, but Allmendinger was sent to the rear of the field when he sped in the pits. The first stage concluded under caution on Lap 20 with Cindric winning his fourth stage of the season. Allgaier was in second followed by Haley, Briscoe and Gragson while Chastain, Harrison Burton, Labbe, Clements and Ryan Sieg were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, everyone except Jones and Herbst, pitted. Following the pit stops, Briscoe exited first followed by Harrison Burton, Cindric, Gragson, Allgaier and Chastain. While exiting his pit stall, Haley nearly made contact with Jade Buford and he braked again to allow Buford to pull in his pit stall, which cost Haley valuable spots on pit road.

With the clouds hovering around the track and light sprinkles being reported around the track, the second stage started on Lap 24. By the first two turns, Briscoe emerged with the lead followed by Cindric and Gragson. Two laps later, the caution returned when Bayley Currey stalled on the track.

The race resumed on Lap 29 and Cindric jumped ahead on the outside lane to return to the lead over Briscoe through the first two turns. A lap later, after reviewing the Lap 29 restart, Cindric was assessed a pass-through penalty for jumping the restart over Briscoe. Another lap later, after trying to appeal the penalty between his crew and the NASCAR officials, Cindric served his pass-through penalty on pit road under green, which allowed Briscoe to return to the lead. Gragson moved into second followed by Allgaier, Herbst and Haley.

On Lap 35, the third caution flew when fire and smoke started billowing out of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra of Jones, which forced the Georgia native to pull his car into the grass in Turn 9. With oil reported around the track, Jones retired from the race. Under caution, the majority of the field pitted and Briscoe exited pit road first. 

With two laps remaining in the second stage, Sieg and Michael Annett, two of six competitors who elected not to pit, led the field under green. Sieg maintained the lead through Turns 1 and 2 while Briscoe made a three-wide move to advance into second as the field behind him jumbled up and made contact against one another for positions. In the ensuing shuffling of positions, Brandon Brown lost his rear bumper. In Turn 13, Gragson spun following contact with Timmy Hill. At the start of the final lap of the second stage, Briscoe emerged with the lead. Briscoe was able to maintain the lead for another circuit to win the second stage and for his third stage win of this season. Allgaier crossed the line in second followed by Annett, Haley and Snider while Brown, Harrison Burton, Josh Bilicki, Allmendinger and Timmy Hill finished in the top 10.

Under the stage break, some like Sieg, Annett and Brown pitted while the rest remained on track. Following the pit stops, Stephen Leicht and Matt Mills were tabbed with speeding penalties on pit road.

The final stage started with 20 laps remaining and Briscoe maintained the lead through the first two turns followed by Allgaier, Haley, Myatt Snider and Harrison Burton. Behind, Allmendinger and Cindric, both of whom rallied from their respective penalties, were in seventh and eighth.

With 15 laps remaining, Briscoe was leading by a second over Allgaier while Allmendinger and Cindric moved into third and fourth. Haley settled in fifth followed by Harrison Burton, Chastain, Gragson, Herbst and Labbe. The following two laps, Allmendinger and Cindric moved into second and third as Briscoe continued to lead by nearly three seconds. Behind the leaders, Brett Moffitt and Mike Wallace wrecked in Turn 1, but they proceeded without drawing a caution. The following lap, Alfredo slipped off the track while running 15th, but he continued on the track despite sustaining minimal damage to the front nose of his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

With 11 laps remaining, the caution flew when smoke started billowing out from Tommy Joe Martins’ car due to axle issues and reports of fluid on the frontstretch. Under caution, a majority of the field pitted and Briscoe maintained the lead off pit road just ahead of Allmendinger. Following the pit stops, Allgaier was assessed a penalty for removing an air hose out of his pit stall. Prior to the restart, Harrison Burton pulled his No. 20 Toyota to pit road to address a loose wheel.

With seven laps remaining, the race restarted with Preston Pardus and Kyle Weatherman on the front row. Once the green flag flew, Briscoe went through the middle to reassume the lead. Allmendinger moved into second while Cindric was stuck in a battle with Gragson for third. With four laps remaining, the battle for the lead and the win started to intensify among the three road-course ringers with Allmendinger drawing himself near the rear bumper of Briscoe and Cindric settling behind the two. In Turn 10, Briscoe slipped, which allowed Allmendinger and Cindric to move pass Briscoe with Allmendinger in the lead. 

With two laps remaining, through the frontstretch and approaching Turn 1, Cindric ran into the rear bumper of Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro, which allowed him and Briscoe to go three wide with Allmendinger before Briscoe powered his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang back into the lead on the inside lane in Turn 1. The following turn, Briscoe forced Allmendinger off the track, which allowed Cindric to draw himself dead even with Allmendinger for second. In Turns 5 and 6, Cindric and Allmendinger made contact and nearly wrecked, which allowed Gragson to move up into third as Cindric fell back to fifth behind Haley. In Turn 7, Allmendinger slipped and Gragson moved into second followed by Haley, costing Allmendinger and Cindric time to catch back to Briscoe. At the front, Briscoe was leading by nearly two seconds when he started the final lap. For a final circuit, Briscoe was able to navigate the 14-turn layout to perfection and hold off a four-car pack for second to streak across the finish line first and claim the biggest win of his racing career.

With the victory, Briscoe has won three times in the last four races with interim crew chief and veteran Greg Zipadelli. Richard Boswell, Briscoe’s regular crew chief, will return next week in the series’ doubleheader at Kentucky Speedway. Briscoe recorded back-to-back wins in NASCAR for the first time in his career as his win was also the 16th NASCAR Xfinity victory for Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi since 2018.

After returning to the frontstretch and celebrating with a victorious burnout, Briscoe, who led a race-high 30 of the event’s 62-scheduled laps, paid homage to his racing hero and team owner, Tony Stewart, by climbing the fence in celebration along with his pit crew. The fence climbing was something Briscoe had planned in the case that he would win at his home track.

“Everybody knows that I grew up and my hero in racing was Tony Stewart,” Briscoe added. “To get to drive for him and watch him win the Brickyard and that was his signature thing [climbing the fence]. I just wanted to do it. Obviously, it’s not the same prestige as winning on the oval, but you still won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It doesn’t matter if you’re racing on the oval, the road course, the dirt track…It’s special to win here.”

From one Indiana native to another, Winamac’s Haley settled in second, trailing Briscoe by nearly two seconds, followed by Gragson. Allmendinger and Cindric settled in fourth and fifth following their late contact.

“Our day was a lot harder than it needed to be,” Cindric said. “Obviously, our Ford Mustang had a lot of incentive for us to win this weekend with the Captain [Roger Penske] and obviously, we were pretty strong on road courses and ran well in practice. With that restart penalty that I feel really ruined our day and from my viewpoint was pretty unjustified, pretty much turned our race into a drive from the back. We got there. We got back to where we were but we just didn’t have a great opportunity to get around [Allmendinger] to pass for the lead and the win. I tried but it is great that Chase was able to get the win. I am sure it means a lot to him winning at home. Another weekend and another good run where we came up short.”

Chastain finished sixth followed by Allgaier, who rallied from his late pit road penalty of removing equipment out of his pit box and will fill in as an interim competitor for seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson in tomorrow’s Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Labbe, Annett and Pardus rounded out the top 10 on the track. Jade Buford finished 14th in his NASCAR debut, Mike Wallace finished 24th in his first race since 2015 and Harrison Burton finished 25th following his late pit stop.

The Xfinity race capped off the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader at the same track on the exact date. Earlier in the day, five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon won at the Indianapolis road-course layout by nearly 20 seconds over Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud.

There were 13 lead changes for eight different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 15 laps.

With his win, Briscoe continues to lead the regular-season series standings by 21 points over Gragson, 55 over Chastain and 61 over Cindric.

Results:

1. Chase Briscoe, 30 laps led, Stage 2 winner

2. Justin Haley

3. Noah Gragson

4. A.J. Allmendinger, two laps led

5. Austin Cindric, 21 laps led, Stage 1 winner

6. Ross Chastain

7. Justin Allgaier, two laps led

8. Alex Labbe

9. Michael Annett

10. Preston Pardus, two laps led

11. Brandon Brown

12. Brandon Gdovic

13. Jeremy Clements

14. Jade Buford

15. Kyle Weatherman

16. Myatt Snider

17. Ryan Sieg, two laps led

18. Jesse Little

19. Timmy Hill

20. Anthony Alfredo

21. Stephen Leicht

22. Josh Williams

23. Josh Bilicki

24. Mike Wallace

25. Harrison Burton

26. Joe Graf Jr.

27. Chad Finchum

28. Kody Vanderwal, one lap down

29. B.J. McLeod, one lap down

30. Matt Mills, one lap down

31. Jeb Burton, two laps down, one lap led

32. Vinnie Miller, two laps down

33. Riley Herbst, five laps down

34. Bayley Currey, eight laps down

35. Tommy Joe Martins – OUT, Axle

36. Brett Moffitt, 18 laps down

37. Brandon Jones – OUT, Oil line, two laps led

38. Jeffrey Earnhardt – OUT, Chassis

Next on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule will be the series’ second time hosting two series races at the same venue, this time at Kentucky Speedway. The two series races at Kentucky will run on July 9-10 and will each be aired at 8 p.m. on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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