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IMS Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 32: Favorite Brickyard Weekend Memory?

Today’s question: What was your favorite moment of Brickyard Weekend 2021?

Curt Cavin: Personally, I won’t forget Austin Cindric’s excitement after winning his first race at IMS, the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, which earned him a chance to kiss the bricks. Austin is a terrific representative of the sport, humble, loves IMS as much as most of us do and deserves the support he receives. Professionally, I enjoyed NBC’s integration of the two sanctioning bodies in a way we’ve long talked about but no network had done before last year. Both broadcast teams contributed, but I commend the NASCAR group for frequently praising the talents of the INDYCAR drivers. Seeing how in awe Joey Logano was over INDYCAR’s deep braking zones was a particular highlight. But best of all was NBC airing side-by-side, in-car videos of laps turned by Scott Dixon and one of the Xfinity Series drivers. I never thought I’d see that in a NASCAR broadcast. That isn’t to say one type of racing is better than another; it illustrated their differences. And, it’s a way to lift all of motorsports.

Zach Horrall: For me, it was AJ Allmendinger’s pure elation after winning the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard. He’s one of the happiest, optimistic drivers in the garage, so seeing him get a NASCAR Cup Series win was great. On top of that, he has a deep appreciation and respect for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and for Roger Penske, making him a perfect winner. His post-race interview, excitement on Victory Podium and pure joy of getting to kiss the bricks was awesome to see. With his open-wheel background as a Champ Car winner, finishing seventh in the 2013 Indy 500 for Team Penske and his close friendship with Michael Shank, Allmendinger being the winner on the NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader weekend couldn’t have been more fitting. Like Curt, I’ll note that seeing drivers from the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series mingle all weekend and supporting each other’s race was amazing. Ryan Hunter-Reay was greeting Cup Series drivers at driver intros, Team Penske’s NASCAR drivers were in the Team Penske INDYCAR haulers, Rinus VeeKay was watching the Verizon 200 on the viewing mounds, Felix Rosenqvist and Austin Dillon hopped in each other’s (non-running) race cars, among many other things. The cross-pollinization was incredible, and all of motorsports is better because of this weekend at IMS.

Paul Kelly: This is a tough one, as there were many cool moments during this unique fusion of the NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and NTT INDYCAR SERIES on one weekend. Seeing IMS President Doug Boles sweeping the track by hand after the curb was removed in Turn 6 late in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard was classic Doug – he does whatever it takes for race fans, and no job is beneath him. The poignant, funny speech by ailing, legendary journalist Robin Miller when he accepted his Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Class of 2021 plaque Friday morning also was very memorable. But the one moment that really grabbed me was the embrace between Will and Liz Power after Will broke through with his first victory of the season Saturday in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix. People sometimes forget that more than just a driver feels pressure pile up during a season – it can put the squeeze on their immediate family, too. So, the sense of relief and joy in Will and Liz’s hug and kiss was a wonderful, human moment from a cool couple that’s more than willing to share parts of their off-track life – with great comedic touch from both! – on social media for fans.

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