The Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is be the final race before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. However, the final spots up for grabs will have to wait another day to be claimed as rain forced the race to be moved to Monday afternoon.
The weekend was plagued by weather, forcing the cancellation of qualifying sessions for both the Cup race and the Xfinity Series‘ Lilly Diabetes 250. As a result of the delays, Monday has become a doubleheader for both events: the Xfinity race was postponed to Monday at 10 AM Eastern, while the Cup race, which was scheduled to start at 1:19 PM, was instead moved to Monday, 2 PM.
With qualifying rained out, the starting lineups for both races were set by their respective series’ owner’s points. Ryan Blaney will start on the pole for the Lilly Diabetes 250. IndyCar Series regular Conor Daly, who made his Xfinity debut in August at Road America, tweeted about his availability if needed: “There any @NASCAR_Xfinity cars open tomorrow morning around 10am? Lol”.
Justin Allgaier will start second, while Timmy Hill in MBM Motorsports‘ #13 is the lone driver to miss the race. On the Cup level, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick comprise the front row.
In the Cup playoff picture, ten drivers have won a race to ensure spots in the 16-man playoff, while Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, and Aric Almirola are in based on strong points results. The final two positions are currently occupied by Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman, respectively. Should any of the 13 race winners score another victory, the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Johnson and Bowman will be guaranteed places in the playoffs on points. If the race is won by Larson, Blaney, Hamlin, or Almirola (plus Johnson in Bowman’s case), either driver will still advance. The other 14 mathematically eligible drivers – Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Daniel Suárez, Jamie McMurray, William Byron, Chris Buescher, A.J. Allmendinger, David Ragan, Michael McDowell, Kasey Kahne, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ty Dillon, and Matt DiBenedetto – must win in order to make the playoffs. While Austin Dillon is eighteenth in points, his Daytona 500 win grants him a playoff seat.
Should rain continue to persist on Monday, 19 Toyota Tundra trucks will be available to dry the track, joined by ten jet dryers and four vacuums.