IndyCar, NASCAR crossover opens to rave reviews at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS – If he can get correct gain access to (and as IndyCar points leader, that promises), Alex Palou will snatch a front-row seat for Sunday’s NASCAR crossover at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I never saw a NASCAR race in person, so if I have a chance, I will because it’s something I need to experience,” Palou informed NBC Sports prior to pacing NTT IndyCar Series practice Friday on the 14-turn, 2.39-mile roadway course that is playing host to 3 series over 3 days this weekend.

“This year it’s been so fun to watch NASCAR on road courses. The races are super fun like the races in IndyCar when it’s wet. There’s lots of stuff happening. Big overtakes from three wide and stuff like that, so I think it’s crazy racing in NASCAR and super fun, so I just want to get to see the race in person.

INDYCAR PRIMER: All the details for Saturday’s IMS Grand Prix

“I’ve been following all the races on TV, but you get a different atmosphere when you are here, and I want to hear 30 cars.”

Well, how about 40 cars and trucks on the entry list for Sunday’s Cup race, Alex?

“Forty? Is it 40?” the Chip Ganassi Racing motorist asked with an appearance of incredulity. “Oh my God, these guys are crazy! I thought that (IndyCar) having 28 (for Saturday’s race) seems like maybe we went too far, but 40? That’s crazy.

“They are crazy, so that’s what I want to see 40 cars. I think I never saw in person 40 cars. Like, 40 cars is huge. I saw it on TV, but it’s not the same as when you see a full straight full of big cars running.”

Palou was among numerous giddy stars on both sides of the fence as IndyCar and NASCAR effectively commemorated a motorsports crossover extravaganza for the very first time at the Brickyard, which will be the website of IndyCar and Xfinity races Saturday and the NASCAR Cup circuit Sunday. Marcus Ericsson, Palou’s Ganassi colleague who won this previous Sunday at Nashville, likewise will stay Sunday to see his very first Cup race face to face.

“A lot of action!” Ericsson informed NBC Sports when asked what he intends to see. “I think these guys on the road course is going to be pretty entertaining, so yeah it’s going to be fun.”

Though it’s the 2nd successive year for a weekend tripleheader of the IndyCar and NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series at Indy, in 2015’s races at Indy were held without fans since of COVID-19 issues and likewise were hindered by pandemic constraints that prevented any intermingling in between series (motorists weren’t allowed the paddock or garage other than when they were raced).

This weekend likewise will mark the very first time that all 3 series are going through the infield design (after a 27-year Brickyard 400 operate on the oval for Cup), so the info obtained from an in-person searching report might be important in NASCAR’s premier series

Joey Logano was amongst the Cup motorists who showed up early, enjoying IndyCar practice with child Hudson at the track owned by group owner Roger Penske.

Throughout Xfinity Series practice, Conor Daly roamed through the Xfinity Series garage, capturing up with good friends he’s made while making 3 NASCAR starts (one Xfinity, 2 in truck). Daly prepared to have supper Friday night with Xfinity winner Noah Gragson (who has actually been his houseguest in Indy prior to).

“I like a lot of those guys,” stated Daly, who will be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing in Saturday’s Grand Prix. “I was texting (AJ) Allmendinger and said, ‘Hey AJ, if you win (the Xfinity race), we’re going to celebrate Saturday night.’ He said, ‘Well, I can’t because I’m racing Sunday (in Cup).’ I said, ‘Doesn’t matter!’

“I love all those guys are in town. It’s good to see everyone.”

Though he was preparing to stay for Saturday’s Xfinity race, Daly stated going to the Cup race Sunday “depends on how Saturday goes for me.”

Rinus VeeKay, the 2020 IndyCar novice of the year who won here in May, will be remaining over Sunday at IMS (postponing a journey house to Florida) so he can cheer for William Byron.

The Chevrolet motorists invested Tuesday together at the GM Racing simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina, with VeeKay training Byron on braking zones and corner methods in addition to taking a couple of virtual laps in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy.

“It’d be a pretty cool story if he does win,” VeeKay stated of Byron. “It would be crazy. Very awesome. We both have limited practice, especially for his first time here. Him seeing me drive a few laps in a stock car, even though I was a little bit slower than him, I did some lines that I normally do in IndyCar, and it really made him think. So I think it opened some ideas for him.

“It was nice to meet him, too. Really nice guy. And pretty young just like me. Yeah. I’m a fan of him now. So if I’m cheering for anyone, it’s going to be him.”

After a Saturday early morning Q&A at Chevy hospitality with Byron, VeeKay is intending to get a trip of Byron’s hauler and a more detailed take a look at his Cup cars and truck.

“It’s two of the biggest racing series in the U.S., but it’s two very different things,” VeeKay informed NBC Sports. “You’ve got the big, heavy taxi cabs, and then you’ve got the IndyCar, which is made for road courses and built for this. So I think it’s going to be very cool. It’s two different fan bases.

<em>Jeff Casey traveled from South Carolina looking for a Jimmie Johnson autograph on his NASCAR and IndyCar diecast cars during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Jenna Watson/IndyStar via USA Today Sports).</em>

Jeff Casey traveled from South Carolina looking for a Jimmie Johnson autograph on his NASCAR and IndyCar diecast cars during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Jenna Watson/IndyStar via USA Today Sports).

“IndyCar needed a little boost. We’ve got Jimmie Johnson coming over here, bringing a lot of NASCAR people over to IndyCar. But I think even this having a crossover, it’s going to be important to them. I think it’ll attract many IndyCar fans to NASCAR scene and NASCAR fans to the IndyCar scene.”

Johnson, the seven-time Cup champ who is midway through his novice season on street and roadway courses in IndyCar, stated he had actually been swamped with text from good friends desiring access to the paddock. Chad Knaus, his previous team chief at Hendrick, was on Johnson’s pit stand Friday throughout certifying.

“It’s an awesome weekend,” Johnson informed NBC Sports pit press reporter Marty Snider. “What a great day for race fans. Very special for me to be at the same track with my NASCAR family. I hope the schedule works out where I can visit and see some guys. Just a fun weekend and excited for the Cup cars and know they’re going to put on a great show this Sunday.”

Six-time IndyCar champ Scott Dixon was uncertain if he might participate in Sunday however is hoping that future crossover tripleheaders will have more crazy schedules, keeping in mind that the very first Cup practice isn’t till straight prior to the IndyCar race.

“Say Xfinity, then IndyCar, then Cup would do a practice,” Dixon informed NBC Sports. “I think that would be quite fun. For fans, that’s what you want to see is on-track action.

“The format and thought behind it is amazing. How often do you get to see three of the largest series just about in the world racing all in one weekend? For me personally, road-course racing is probably (NASCAR’s) best races, and I think this track will play that way, too. Just because you’ve got such long straights, big braking zones. The flow should be a little bit better just because there’s lots of areas to run off as well if you do get collected.”

<em>Scott Dixon flashes a smile Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the six-time IndyCar champion was happy to share the track with the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series (James Black/IndyCar).</em>

Scott Dixon flashes a smile Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the six-time IndyCar champ mored than happy to share the track with the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series (James Black/IndyCar).

As the child of Group Penske president Tim Cindric, Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric has actually matured around the IndyCar paddock, however he still vicariously delighted in the responses of others who were brand-new to the experience Friday.

“I’ve been inside that garage area enough that it’s not new to me, but it’s really new to a lot of other people in the (NASCAR) garage area,” stated Cindric, who hung out in the Penske paddock. “So it’s kind of fun to see everyone’s perspective on how things work, even having some of our leadership on the NASCAR side observe IndyCar practice from the pit stand, listen to the timing and scoring, the telemetry and so on and what’s different and translatable. I think that’s important as a race team having two programs at a racetrack at the same time is pretty cool.

“I think a lot of street races that IndyCar has, you have so many different kinds of cars and it gives the race fan so many different things to look forward to, it’s not just the same thing at a different rate of speed. It’s clear the difference in speed and driveability of an IndyCar to a NASCAR. We’re braking at the 800 (foot) marker going into Turn 1, where IndyCar is braking just before the 200.

“A race fan can see that difference. To look forward to that and look forward to the different types of racing and maybe anticipate how different battles can happen throughout the race because the race plays out so much differently between the two series and rules and packages and cars and aero and so on. It gives the race fan something to look forward to every day.”

Felix Rosenqvist was anticipating a Saturday early morning “seat swap” (minus really turning a lap) with Austin Dillon, providing the Arrow McLaren SP motorist a much-anticipated possibility to see the No. 3 Chevy up close.

“That’s going to be cool,” Rosenqvist informed NBC Sports. “It’s still very foreign to me what they’re doing. it’s obviously a way different scene and just the whole vibe is different, so yeah, it’s always nice when you get a chance to see it a bit closer. Just to sit in the car. To hear a little bit about what do they talk about it, what’s their approach for a weekend, because in IndyCar we talk the same language and have the same vibe going through the weekends. I bet the NASCAR guys are just like “What are they talking about?”

NASCAR on NBC expert Jeff Burton stated Cup groups may be extremely thinking about IndyCar discussions offered the arrival of the NextGen cars and truck. The brand-new design for the 2022 season in Cup is patterned in lots of methods off the typical chassis and parts that the IndyCar series has actually utilized effectively for numerous years.

“There’s a new car coming to NASCAR, and there’ll be a lot of crew chiefs, team managers paying real close attention to how that (IndyCar) garage works,” Burton stated. “Because I think they know a whole lot more about what the Cup Series is going to be doing next year than the Cup Series does.

“There’s a lot to learn. Knowing the crew chiefs, the team managers and engineers, they’re going to be paying attention. They’re not coming here without a purpose with the IndyCar race here. They’re going to be paying really close attention. They’ll be trying to learn as much as they can. I think there’s a lot that IndyCar does and how the teams operate that can apply in the future with what’s going on in Cup.”

IndyCar, NASCAR crossover opens to rave evaluations at Indianapolis Motor Speedway initially appeared on NBCSports.com

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.