NASCAR Cup Series Rookies Dominate the Top Five of the Verizon 200 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

by Jonathan Howard

Don’t overlook those young guys, y’all. NASCAR has a generational divide and the rookies showed out big time on Sunday afternoon. Tyler Reddick might have won the race, the second win of his career and the season, but these new guys have something to be proud of.

After Ross Chastain and Austin Dillon were hit with a 30-second penalty post-race, the top five looked a little different. Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, and Todd Gilliland finished P2, P3, and P4 – respectively.

NASCAR Rookies All Smiles After Verizon 200

You know what’s better than three rookies filling out the top five? Those same three rookies sticking closely together. It was all smiles as they all had successful finishes on the day. While Cindric has a Daytona 500 win – the other two drivers had the races of their very young careers.

Check out those three smiling big after the race.

Of course, Burton and Gilliland are closely tied together. Burton races for the Gilliland team in the Truck Series. With Todd, the two have made their way into the Cup Series at an early age and might be having their best races as the regular season comes to a close.

When you consider what we’ve seen this season in NASCAR, it makes sense. There is a real generational divide here. We have drivers like Kyle and Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and more that have raced a certain way. They’ve always raced that way and they also know the “unwritten” rules of the sport.

Meanwhile, you have guys like Ross Chastain, William Byron, Cindric, Burton – they do things differently. The driving is aggressive. It’s fast every lap, every turn, every second. And if someone gets in the way, so be it. These NASCAR rookies showed out today and should feel very good about their performances.

Last Lap Hysteria

Over the course of this race, we didn’t see a lot of contact early on. Drivers somehow avoided one another as they spun out in the grass, dirt, gravel, and other roadways. The NASCAR rookies didn’t look like they were going to make a whole lot of noise early on in the race. Then Stage 3 shook things up and we saw utter chaos. Turn 1 was a menace today. Kyle Larson even launched his car into the air and right into the side of Ty Dillon’s No. 42.

It was so rough at the end, that we had a restart with four laps to go and then again in overtime. These drivers just couldn’t handle themselves on Turn 1. It was so bad that Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain skipped it entirely and took the access road. And, it would have worked too if it wasn’t for that pesky 30-second penalty. That set them back pretty far.

When the cars got sorted out on that overtime lap and the survivors made it through the wreckage, it was the rookies that were coming out on top. They sped around the track, made some passing moves, and have strong finishes as a result. When was the last time three NASCAR rookies have performed this well all in the same race?