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Cup Series Drivers Embracing Shift to New Challenge on IMS Road Course

Most of NASCAR Cup Series drivers will get their first opportunity to race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course with the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, NBC).

Yes, they will miss the heritage of competing on the iconic oval track, as they did for 27 years in the Brickyard 400, but this new challenge is being embraced. The following is a sampling of their thoughts in advance of Saturday’s first practice (11:05 a.m. ET):

Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing

“I’ve got some (pace car) laps on the road course, and it should be a lot of fun. The key is that it’s the (right size). I think a lot of road course racetracks are just too long and using half of (the IMS oval) is a good move.”

Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing

“Stock cars on road courses are a lot of fun. The cars are really heavy for road course racing, so you’re slipping and sliding, and you don’t have a lot of (tire) grip.”

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske

“I couldn’t be more excited. I know how much this place means to Roger (Penske) and all the work his team has put in here. Plus, it’s Indy, and racing here is always special.”

Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing

“Obviously, it’s going to be different not being on the oval, but it’s time to write a new chapter in the history (of IMS). If I can’t be a winner of the Brickyard 400, then I can be the first (Cup) winner on the road course. That would be pretty special.”

Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing

“Our cars on a road course are heavy. They’re large, they’re heavy, and they’re kind of clumsy compared to other racing series that specifically go road racing and have everything dialed in with very little suspension travel, underwings and big spoilers or wings on the back. We’re a different type of race car. We’ve been able to go well over 200 mph at a lot of these racetracks, but when we go road racing, that’s not what these cars were designed to do. You think about the rear suspension still being based off a mid-50s Chevy pickup truck. That being said, everything has evolved pretty highly with specific builds, but … that’s why they’re fun, beat and bang, push each other around, and put on a show.”

Austin Cindric, Team Penske

“Whether (this event) is on the (oval) or the road course, I don’t think it matters to NASCAR fans because the Speedway is synonymous with the Indy 500, and for us it’s bringing a great product to the racetrack. And if it’s better on the road course, it’s worth doing.”

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports

“We’ve always really sucked (on the IMS oval), and hopefully it goes better this year. It’s one of those places that I wanted to fix, wanted to figure out, so maybe this will come around (for us). I do think the road course is better suited for our style of cars.”

Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing

“I knew (Xfinity) would put on a good show (last year), but it was even better than I thought it would be. When they were going off into Turn 1 three-wide and (there was) all that craziness …”

Joey Logano, Team Penske

“You look at (last year’s Xfinity Series race at IMS) from a race fan’s perspective because that is the No. 1 most important thing, right? What puts butts in the seats or makes people watch and tune in (on television)? It’s great racing, and that’s what (that race) provided.”

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