Last year’s NASCAR Cup race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course was not pretty.
Cup drivers, who were racing on the IMS road circuit for the first time, went over — and sometimes through — curbing on parts of the course, eventually dismantling parts of the concrete areas. Nine cars parked with damage. On the white-flag lap, Chase Briscoe (who had been penalized by NASCAR) punted leader Denny Hamlin, allowing AJ Allmendinger to take the lead from third place.
Austin Cindric, who finished ninth last year, said the Next Gen car, making its debut at the track this weekend, should allow drivers to negotiate the course cleaner.
“The issue we saw last year I absolutely believe will not be there anymore with curbs coming off,” Cindric said. “That’s worse-case scenario. … Our cars last year were so low to the ground that the leading edge of the splitter was the sharpest, smallest part of the car and one of the strongest, so that it is probably not surprising that temporary curbing gets abused.”
There is new concrete curbing in Turn 6, which is where the issues took place last year. That curbing is now similar to the curbing in Turns 8, 9 and 10. The height of the curb in Turn 6 is slightly then before.
Cindric said he expects racing on the 2.4-mile Indy course to be similar to that at Circuit of the Americas in Texas. And, he said, racing off the main straight of the oval track and turning right into the first turn of the road course is likely to create crowded conditions similar to last year’s race.
“I feel like the passing zones will be very similar,” he said. “I think the restarts at IMS are pretty wild, especially because you’ve got opportunity in corner number one when you have the opportunity to go four- or five-wide into the brake zone.”
It’s easy, Cindric said, to lose several spots on restarts.
“You saw guys who were pretty much dominating the race last year not be able to capitalize on some late-race restarts, and that cost them the win,” he said. “I think from that perspective the restarts at the IMS road course in NASCAR are probably the most challenging thing for a driver.”
Cindric won last year’s Xfinity race on the IMS road course.