Race Weekend Central

Eyes on XFINITY: NASCAR, Please Come Up With Another Solution

Coming on the heels of NASCAR’s new renovation taking place at Phoenix International Raceway, the sanctioning body has confirmed that the series is looking to add restrictor plates to the XFINITY Series event held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22.

The main reason for the drastic change is simply because NASCAR officials were satisfied with an open test the series had at the Brickyard prior to the race last July.

NBC Sports reports that if all goes well, NASCAR is looking to restrict the engines in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Indy in 2018, in what would be the 25th running of the Brickyard 400. There are also possible changes coming being mentioned for the pair of races at Pocono Raceway, as well as Michigan International Speedway.


Of course, NASCAR is looking to better the racing and increase the excitement at these tracks, but Indianapolis seems to be a place that is a bit dangerous to test this experiment. The track has been home to some violent crashes in both the Indy 500, and in NASCAR, as Jimmie Johnson admitted that his crash in 2007 was the hardest of his career.

Having no background in gravitational fortitude, the metrics don’t seem to add up. If plate races do indeed come to these three tracks, what is NASCAR trying to gain?

Ultimately, the longest straightaways in NASCAR lie at Pocono and Indianapolis. This means these cars are hauling, when they are going into Turn 1 — and I would say Turn 3, but the Tricky Triangle has three long straightaways, which makes it even more dangerous. Many current drivers, however, have displayed their disinterest in competing at plate tracks because of the carnage it entails.

It’s understandable that NASCAR would want to make some changes to the racing at Indianapolis, because the racing recently hasn’t been all that good. However, think about some of the finishes, especially in the XFINITY Series, that track has created.

There have been five XFINITY Series races at the 2.5-mile layout, with Brad Keselowski winning the inaugural race in 2012. Sure, Kyle Busch has won three of the five events, while dominating four of them, but the fans tend to expect that when Rowdy is in the field.

In 2014, Ty Dillon picked up his solo win in the XFINITY Series by holding off Busch in the final laps. The drama at the end of the race focused on whether or not the No. 3 car had enough gas to make it to the checkered flag first.

Just a year prior Busch passed Brian Scott with a handful of laps remaining, holding off him and Joey Logano. In general, the racing has been bad at Indianapolis, but there have been some thrilling finishes, in both the XFINITY and Cup series.

Indianapolis and Pocono have one major commonality between the two, both are really flat tracks. Each of the four corners at Indy has nine degrees of banking, making it one of the shallowest tracks on the NASCAR circuit. The three turns at Pocono vary from six degrees of banking to 14 degrees of banking, still making it a one lane track.

The reason why restrictor plates work so well at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway is because the track is so wide, and the corners have a lot of banking. It doesn’t make much sense to try and put plates on a flat track because it doesn’t add up.

However, NASCAR is in a box because they need to try something different at Indianapolis.

The sanctioning body has made a lot of improvements to the racing over the past couple of years, but putting restrictor plates on fast flat tracks doesn’t seem to fit the mold. They were once in favor of the high-drag package as well, when most of the drivers favored less downforce, putting the racing back into the drivers hands. In doing so, the racing has improved tremendously over the past two to three years, and even when there is a “bad race” now, it’s still better than it was just a couple years ago.

In a perfect world, the prestige around Indianapolis Motor Speedway will always be there, and rightfully so. In a perfect world, NASCAR would leave the cars alone, let the Cup Series battle it out out on the famed track, and move the XFINITY Series to either the newly renovated road course, or back to Lucas Oil Raceway, where the series ran for 30 years, most recently in 2011.

Please NASCAR, make the right call.

About the author

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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Typical of this era in NASCAR. Take something that wasn’t broken (the race at IRP) and break it in the name of fixing it by moving it to IMS. Then double down on the predictable failure of the first change with an even more ludicrous idea.

PattyKay Lilley

Thanks for preaching common sense. As a l-o-n-g time fan that knows something of the physics of racing, I cannot imagine what the decision makers hope to gain with restrictor plates on those big, flat tracks. The underlying fact is, Indianapolis was designed for open-wheel cars that can carry speed through the flat corners and stay on the ground and away from the walls. Big heavy stock cars with skinny tires just cannot do that and must slow appreciably or be greeted with a wall for their trouble.
One more thing I’d point out is that to the best of my knowledge, there has been little or no improvement in the amount of SAFER barriers at Indy. They still run with what was installed in 2002 and management there feels they are above making further improvements… because of the cost, I’m sure. It would be a real slap on NASCAR if this crazy scheme should put a driver into that concrete wall and we had to bid farewell to another driver. Those are the same concrete walls which Tony George proudly showed off to Smokey Yunick some time before NASCAR’s first race at the Brickyard. Smokey’s response was, “What about the drivers? All you’re gonna do with this is kill ‘em deader, quicker.”
Don’t misunderstand. There are some areas at Indy protected by SAFER barriers. They were in fact, the first to have them and it was Tony George that initiated a study of them with Dr. Dean Sicking at the University of Nebraska. We’ve learned over the years that a little bit is not enough. Any driver that’s met with concrete will tell you that it should be SAFER barriers everywhere.

Bill H.

” the racing has been bad at Indianapolis, but there have been some thrilling finishes,”

Think about that statement for a moment. Do we really want to go sit in the stands for three hours of utter boredom, in order to be entertained for two minutes and thirty seconds at the end?

Writers have been bragging about the “great racing” for years, all based on the “thrilling finishes,” without paying any attention to the boring three hour parade that precedes that “thrilling finish,” and they wonder why attendance is falling off.


It’s like the NBA. Watch the last two minutes and hope something interesting happens besides dunks.

PattyKay Lilley

Drag Racing is an almost endless supply of thrilling finishes. Is that why their stands are full and ours are deserted? Just musing…


Another sequel to Dumb and Dumber. Send these guys back to the asylum!

Ken Smith

They should go back to running the Xfinity cars at Lucas Oil (formerly IRP) Raceway. That was good racing back in the day! Maybe they should run the cup cars there too.

Sol Shine

I can only imagine that Nascar thinks by using the plates it will lessen the power difference between the haves and the have nots and thereby produce better racing. Maybe they are hoping for Daytona/Dega style drafting (and wrecking). I dislike the racing, and especially the wrecking, at plate tracks now, so if it goes that way I’ll not be impressed. Most of the changes Nascar has made in the last few years have been for the worse, but I’ll try to be open minded about this and see what it brings. I’m not expecting a miracle though.

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