NASCAR Indianapolis 2013: Drivers voice support for Sprint Cup race at Eldora

Chris Graythen

Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer are among those who would like to see a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Eldora Speedway.

The question resonating this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is "what's next" following the immediate aftermath of NASCAR's first major dirt track race in nearly 43 years. There aren't any definitive answers yet.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the Mudsummer Classic among competitors and fans alike, however, it seems to be a given that the Truck Series will return to Eldora Speedway in 2014.

A Sprint Cup Series race on the half-mile track owned by Tony Stewart could be gaining steam, though, but a dirt race is something NASCAR's top division hasn't done since 1970. Jeff Gordon would be in support of that idea, though, calling the idea "awesome" and believing it would give the sport boost -- though he concedes it likely won't happen while he's an active participant.

"Everywhere I've gone this week, I've had people that are huge NASCAR fans and people that aren't big NASCAR fans at all say that watched it and they were blown away," Gordon said Friday. "They did not expect it to go the way that it did.

"I thought 'why not have more races on a dirt track.' I don't think you will ever see a Cup race there, at least not while I'm driving, but I would certainly vote for it. I think it would be very cool to do."

Like Gordon, Clint Bowyer has a background competing on dirt and would also like to see a dirt race added to the Cup schedule. His reasoning for NASCAR to further diversifying its schedule is because of the attention and enthusiasm the Mudsummer Classic generated.

"If the fans liked it and it was well-received and people enjoyed it, why not?" Bowyer said. "This is a fan-driven sport, and it always has been. We've always been able to deliver to the fans bigger than most other sports, and (we should) continue that. These tracks didn't build as big as they are (without) having that fan base and not being able to deliver to fans. Whatever it takes."

"Look at the excitement and attention that one change made -- and it was the Truck Series."

But it wasn't just drivers who grew up honing their skills on a dirt track who were excited by the action at Eldora.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose background consists of primarily running on asphalt tracks, was taken aback by what he witnessed. The driver applauded NASCAR for thinking outside the box.

"I really thought that was extraordinary for the race track, the series, the sport," he said. "What a risky and gutsy call to go do that. I thought it was just extraordinary that NASCAR was willing to make the leap. ... I thought the race was fun to watch. I really enjoyed what I saw."

Earnhardt was hesitant to go as far as saying he'd support a Cup dirt race, however, instead saying he thinks a non-points Cup event at Eldora might be the better way to go. If not that, perhaps a Nationwide race to further test the waters to see if a modern-day Cup car is suited for dirt tracking.

"I think it would be fun to go run there if they ever did exhibition or something. I don't know about a full-on event, but I think it would be fun for the (Nationwide) series to have a couple of dirt races," Earnhardt said. "Obviously it seems to be really awesome for the fans and something they really enjoyed so I expect that it's something we could see more of. We'll just have to see what NASCAR wants to do."

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