Thursday, July 7, 2011

NASCAR should run the Brickyard 400 4-race Super Weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2012 all on the IMS infield road course including the Brickyard 400 itself.

Yesterday’s press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway confirmed the last few weeks’ speculation that the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Grand-Am Road Racing Series including the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge would join the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to create a 4-race Brickyard 400 super weekend.

The Grand-Am Rolex Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge would race on the 13-turn IMS 2.523-mile infield road course Friday, July 27, while the Nationwide Series and of course the Sprint Cup Series would complete on the 2.5-mile oval on Saturday (Nationwide) and Sunday (Cup Series).

But while the press conference was good news on NASCAR, IMS and the Grand-Am Road Racing Series, fans were left with mixed feelings and left some unanswered question marks as well.

Like for example, why NASCAR would take a good race from the 0.686-mile short track and move it to the 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Will the Truck Series continue to race at the newly bought and renamed Lucas Oil Raceway in 2012 and beyond?

I know for me personally, I have mixed feelings about this announcement. I mean, I’m happy to see that Indianapolis Motor Speedway finally added another race to the schedule which is the Grand-Am Road Racing Series. They tested back in 2009 and it seems like a good series to be racing on this historical track.

However the downside is that I’m a big fan of both the Truck Series and the Nationwide Series running over at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a 0.686-mile track which has been bought and renamed the Lucas Oil Raceway and seeing the Nationwide Series leave LOR and move to IMS is sad. The races are amazing, it’s good old fashion under the lights short track action and while the speedway only has about 30,000 to 40,000 seats, it’s still a good race.

But now fans are going to see another short track leave the schedule and be replaced by a 2.5-mile race track that if it’s another like the Cup Series race, it will be boring too. I don’t agree with this move at all and it’s not a win for NASCAR despite what they may think.

And I don’t think that a racetrack that can hold 250,000 fans is going to see a major pickup in attendance even if there is 3 days, 4 races on the same weekend, but they might see more campers.

Now if that wasn’t enough, I just read a USA Today article that not only talks about this announcement, but also leave me wondering if the Lucas Oil Raceway will be on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule at all in 2012. The article had this quote:
Lucas Oil Raceway general manager Wes Collier said it's unlikely the track would host NASCAR events in 2012. He said the track, which also has held a Camping World Truck Series race since 1995, wasn't offered a chance to bid on keeping the race.

"We were just told it's going to be moving," Collier said. "I know IMS obviously has wanted to help maybe inject some life for that weekend. Clearly, I think that was part of the decision." – USA Today
If this is true and NASCAR doesn’t even have the Truck Series racing there on Friday or Saturday night, this announcement will most likely draw more negative, than positive reactions and it would be very sad to see the Truck Series too leave the 0.686-mile short track for nothing.

With that said, since NASCAR has gone ahead and made this big move, I would like to suggest something, NASCAR, what about having the entire Brickyard 400 super weekend run on the IMS Infield road course instead of half on the road course and the other half on the oval?

Think of it this way, the Brickyard 400 in recent years, the attendance has dropped because of tire gate and boring races. But since NASCAR fans are looking for more road course races and there is no room on the schedule to add another venue, this would be a great option at least for one year, just try it to add a third road course race to both the Nationwide Series and Cup Series schedules. It could draw more fans in and make the TV broadcast more exciting too.

I wonder if NASCAR would even consider it…any thoughts?

(Image Credit: Ron McQueeney, Indianapolis Motor Speedway via NASCARMedia)