Race Weekend Central

Tearing Apart the Trucks: A Farewell to Lucas Oil Raceway

The Camping World Truck Series rolls into Lucas Oil Raceway tonight (July 29) for what is likely the last visit for the series to the 0.686-mile oval. Since its inception in 1995, the Truck Series has been visiting the Clermont, Ind. track each season – typically in late July or early August – but that changed when NASCAR chose to move the Nationwide Series over to the Brickyard.

Starting next season, the Nationwide Series will run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the current plan leaves the Truck Series out at Lucas Oil Raceway as well.

“We are disappointed that the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series will not return to Lucas Oil Raceway on their customary weekend,” said track GM Wes Collier. “The Kroger 200 and the AAA Insurance 200 have long been one off the can’t miss events for race fans in the Midwest.”

One thing that really stood out to me is that it seems the short track was left out of the discussions with NASCAR and IMS.

“We’re very disappointed in the decision. I think this was a business decision between NASCAR and IMS and we were left on the outside looking in,” Collier remarked. “We were more than wiling to do what we could to keep this race here. There wasn’t anything proposed to us that we wouldn’t have done to keep this race here.”

The really sad thing aside from losing yet another short track on the Truck Series schedule is that Lucas Oil had just signed on this year to sponsor the speedway in part because of the NASCAR weekend at the track. In their contract, there’s a clause that allows the company to renegotiate their sponsorship. Lucas Oil does plan to renegotiate its track sponsorship since the annual Labor Day Weekend NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will continue to run there.

“It’s a shock really. One of the reasons we did the sponsorship with the track was because of the NASCAR races. It was a big deal to us,” Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas said. “We’re going to lose a lot of value to the track for us, but I also think this is a big loss for Indianapolis. I think it was one of the best races in the country, but it’s not going to be the same at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

See also
Shakedown Session: NASCAR Bids Farewell to Thee, IRP

While I’m not even sold on the Nationwide Series heading over to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, that’s another story in itself. As far as the Truck Series is concerned, I haven’t quite figured out why NASCAR and Lucas Oil Raceway can’t just come to an agreement to continue to host the truck racing so we can continue to enjoy one of the few true short tracks left on the schedule. In fact, the race could still be on the same weekend because I’m sure there are plenty of people who make the entire weekend their agenda when they head out toward Indianapolis.

With all of that being said, all hope is not completely lost. General Manager Wes Collier has said he wouldn’t mind bringing NASCAR back to the track but isn’t in any kind of talks with the sanctioning body to make that happen. However, NASCAR President Mike Helton didn’t rule it out completely.

“They were our first stop in this marketplace, years before we started running at the Brickyard,” Helton said. “We’d like to explore the possibilities, and hopefully we’re in their future and they’re in ours.”

Unfortunately, I have a pretty good feeling this weekend is the last time the Truck Series will run at Lucas Oil Raceway unless the Nationwide Series moves back to the short track, but I continue to hold out hope the series will return to the track that has seen 11 out of 16 races end with a margin of victory under one second, including six with a margin under half a second. Once the 2012 schedule comes out, we’ll know for sure. Until then, don’t miss out on what will likely be one of the most exciting races of the season.

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