Another Hendrick vs. Penske battle set for the Brickyard?

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It almost seems preordained: The two most powerful teams of the 2014 Sprint Cup season going head-to-head for supremacy on the sport’s most hallowed ground.

Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske have combined for 11 wins in 19 races this season. Throw in Hendrick-powered Stewart Haas Racing and you have 14 in 19.

And coming to the green tomorrow for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the two sides are well-represented in the front end of the grid.

Starting alongside SHR pole sitter Kevin Harvick on the front row will be HMS’ Jeff Gordon. Behind them will be Penske’s Brad Keselowski on the inside of Row 2.

Then there’s Tony Stewart (SHR) in Row 3, Kurt Busch (SHR) and Juan Pablo Montoya (Penske) in Row 4, Joey Logano (Penske) and Kasey Kahne (HMS) in Row 5, and Jimmie Johnson (HMS) in Row 6.

You get the picture. Those that aren’t affiliated with Hendrick or Penske are likely going to have their work cut out for them tomorrow.

“We certainly look at all the Hendrick cars – and the Stewart Haas cars having Hendrick chassis and Hendrick engines and just how good they’ve been – then Penske: to me, they’re the team to beat outside of what we have,” Gordon said today at IMS regarding the teams’ rivalry.

“At times, they’ve been better than us and at times, we’ve been better than them.”

Right now, one could argue that Penske’s been better as Keselowski has won two of the last three Sprint Cup races. But Keselowski noted that while Penske and Hendrick have been the strongest teams so far, a lot can still change in the weeks ahead.

“You never know what somebody else has in their hands – much like if you’re playing a game of poker,” he said. “You think we have the two strongest hands with Penske and Hendrick, and certainly, that’s been the case to this date in the season. But you don’t know what’s out there.

“I find it hard to believe that [Joe Gibbs Racing] is gonna go a whole year without a dominant car. It’s not like them. So I’m sure they’re going to catch on as the season progresses – and maybe [Michael Waltrip Racing] or [Richard Childress Racing], who knows?

“But we’re a long ways from over and while I think you can look at the past – it’s an indicator to the future, but not a complete premonition.”

Still, it would seem that the world’s greatest race course is set for a fight between the sport’s heavyweights. And while Keselowski is wise to say that the past isn’t a window into the future, both he and Gordon surely hope that doing well at Indy will ultimately foreshadow a championship celebration this fall.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.