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The 5 Best NASCAR Races at Indianapolis

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Joshua Lipowski

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NASCAR and Indianapolis has gone from a definite no-go to a yearly tradition over the last 30 years. The race has changed a lot over the past 30 years from a race on the oval with a crowd almost as big as the Indianapolis 500 to a race on the infield road course. Here are the five best NASCAR races held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR and Indianapolis has gone from a pipe-dream to a yearly tradition over the last 30 years. The race has changed a lot over the past 30 years from a race on the oval with a crowd almost as big as the Indianapolis 500 to a race on the infield road course. Here are the five best NASCAR races held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

5. 2017 Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

The 2017 Brickyard 400 was one of the most chaotic NASCAR races of all time. The two best cars, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., took each other out on a restart with 50 laps to go. A timely caution for a hard crash involving Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and others with 11 laps to go put Kasey Kahne in the lead purely because of when and where he was on pit road.

From then on, there was four more accidents, and Jimmie Johnson attempting a three-wide pass for the lead while his engine was blowing up. That ended with Johnson in the outside wall. When the dust settled, Kahne took home the final win of his NASCAR career on auto racing’s most hallowed ground.

4. 2021 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

In 2021, NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway elected to make a drastic change. Instead of racing on the oval, they decided to race on the infield road course originally built for Formula One in 2000. The result was a typical, chaotic NASCAR road course race.

Two major accidents pushed the race into overtime. Chase Briscoe ended up spinning Denny Hamlin out after Briscoe had already been penalized for shortcutting the course. A.J. Allmendinger worked his way through the carnage and won his second career Cup Series race.

3. 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

Tony Stewart is arguably the greatest NASCAR driver ever born in Indiana. He realized his dream by winning at Indianapolis in 2005, but the 2007 win was one of his most iconic. Stewart’s friend and current employee, Kevin Harvick, took the lead on a late race restart.

Stewart responded by closing slowly and saying over the radio, “Here kitty kitty.” Stewart pounced with 10 laps to go, and he won his second race at Indianapolis by 2.982 seconds over Juan Pablo Montoya. Yes, Harvick faded all the way back to seventh place at the finish.

2. 2011 Brickyard 400

The 2011 Brickyard 400 came down to fuel mileage. A bunch of drivers elected to pit under a late caution to try to stretch the fuel to the end. The fastest car of the day, Jeff Gordon was good to go, and he started steaming his way through the pack in the closing laps.

The driver up front was none other than Paul Menard, who grew up going to races at Indianapolis. Gordon worked his way into second trying to push Menard into running out of fuel. Menard, however, saved just enough to win his first and only career race.

1. 1994 Brickyard 400

In the early 1990s, rumblings about NASCAR at the Brickyard began to gain steam. Finally, the race became a reality in 1994 with the first annual Brickyard 400. A total of 350,000 people attended the race, and it was dominated by one of Indiana’s own, Jeff Gordon.

The race came down to a battle between Gordon and Ernie Irvan, but a flat tire ended Irvan’s winning chances with only five laps to go. Gordon would hold off a hard-charging Brett Bodine by half-a-second for the win. It was the first of four Brickyard 400 wins for Jeff Gordon.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is richer in auto racing history than any other race track in the world. Now, NASCAR is about to have three decades worth of history at the race track. Will this weekend’s race add to the history?

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