clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NASCAR Making Mistake By Moving Nationwide Race To Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The reports have been surfacing for weeks, and now a Wednesday press conference will apparently make the news official: Indianapolis Motor Speedway is getting a NASCAR Nationwide Series race next year.

Losing a date will be Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly called "IRP" and "ORP"), which is perhaps the most beloved Nationwide race of the season.

It's going to be tough for NASCAR to convince fans this is a positive move.

Fans are going to be upset for two reasons: First, because they love LOR; second, because this waters down the history and tradition of both IMS and the Brickyard 400.

LOR is in its 30th year on the Nationwide Series schedule – that's every year of the series' existence. Fans pack the .686-mile short track annually for a race that's typically far more exciting than the one held the following day on the "Big Track," which is about eight miles away.

LOR is not flashy or modern, but old-school. Its selling point is good, hard racing – and lots of sparks flying under the lights. In other words, it speaks to the roots of the series itself (which seems to be a rarity these days).

While the Brickyard is one of the top venues on the NASCAR circuit because it drips with dignity and prestige, it's not a great track for stock car racing. The Cup cars struggle to put on a good show at IMS because they get extremely strung out on the mammoth 2.5-mile circuit, and there is little passing on the relatively flat corners.

This, though, can be tolerated once per year because the Brickyard is simply a cool place. And one of the coolest aspects about Indy is its exclusive club of winners – not just in NASCAR, but in the track's 100-year history.

When it comes to stock cars, only 10 NASCAR drivers have ever won the Brickyard 400. Among the names: Earnhardt. Gordon. Johnson. Stewart. Eight of the 10 are likely NASCAR Hall of Famers.

In that respect, the Nationwide Series' presence will cause the Brickyard 400 to lose a bit of its luster. Indy has historically been about rewarding the best of the best, not some Sprint Cup regular getting to kiss the bricks for the first time because he was moonlighting in the minors.

This just seems to be one of those decisions that's more about money and less about the best interests of the fans. Otherwise, why take a successful, popular race with tradition (NASCAR estimated last year's LOR attendance at 40,000) and move it to a venue where you know it won't be as exciting?

Plenty of fans will feel angry about this move, but their emotions will change by this time next year. When the Nationwide cars parade around IMS as LOR sits empty and silent, they'll simply be sad.