SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Ask most of the NASCAR Cup Series field, and they would rather win the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and the Brickyard 400 over the current infield road course.
“I think there’s no denying that the oval is going to be a much more boring race probably, but I think just the prestige of the oval is what we would all rather win,” Kyle Larson said. “I think it just means when you think of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you don’t think of the road course.
“So, the Brickyard 400 is a crown jewel event that we’ve lost. If we can get that back, get it back on the oval. I think that would be great for our sport and just having another crown jewel event on our schedule.”
“A part of not having [more road courses] is what made people like it, right,” Joey Logano said. “You want what you can’t have sometimes, and if you only have three or four of them, it’s kind of like a cool thing. You get too many of them, it’s like, ‘ok, another road course.’ So, if we do go back [to the oval], I’d be happy.”
But while many are willing to make the potential jump back to the Indy oval in 2024 – a rumor that has gained steam in recent weeks – a few others have expressed interest in alternating layouts or running both.
“Just being here is really special, whether it’s oval or road course,” Ryan Blaney said. “I’m on the side of I wouldn’t mind switching it up every couple of years. You know, go to the road course for two years, go to the oval for two years and kind of switch it up.”
“I want as many road courses as we can, but I do understand the prestigiousness of running the Brickyard and being on the oval,” Michael McDowell said.
“… Can we do both?”
If the road course layout does indeed go by the wayside next season, the NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader at the IMS road course – which has been an annual date on both calendars since 2020 – will also vanish.
And from NASCAR drivers and IndyCar drivers alike, neither side wants to see that happen.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of different fans that get to mingle, you know, with both series here,” Martin Truex Jr. said. “And I think for us [drivers], it’s just fun to get around those cars and see them up close; we don’t really get to do that.
“We’re always working, so they probably get more opportunity to watch us than we do to watch them, but I enjoy watching on TV. And you know, it’s cool to see it in person.”
If the doubleheader was to continue somewhere, did Truex have any ideas about tracks to visit in the future?
“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it. We do a lot of road courses these days, so there’s a lot of opportunity for that to happen.”
Blaney echoed the same sentiment about the doubleheader, and he also offered a potential track to use down the road if the IMS road course is removed.
“The unfortunate side is I think that doubleheader might be gone with the IndyCar guys, which stinks because I love being here with those guys,” Blaney said. “And I think the fans like it, it gives them a little inside of each series.
“… I wouldn’t mind seeing that somewhere, of us having a doubleheader. Iowa [Speedway] would be a perfect double header for the Cup cars and IndyCars.”
Logano – like Blaney – drives for Team Penske, and team owner Roger Penske’s ties to IMS is what makes the weekend fun for him.
“I do think it’s really cool to have the IndyCar guys here, especially as a guy that drives for Team Penske,” Logano said. “It’s really cool to have their cars here, [to] get to watch them and see what they’re doing. And obviously just the Penske weekend that this is, all of our partners are here, and you want to have a good showing.”
Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 champion that made his third Cup start on Sunday (Aug. 13), wants as many crossovers as possible, regardless of the series.
“Well, the fans just get more bang for their buck, I guess,” Button said. “You know, watching two great series and then you obviously have the feeder series, the junior series with IndyCar NXT and obviously the Xfinity Series. So, it’s a lot of racing over a race weekend and it’s good to see. You know, I would love to see other categories doing the same thing, you know, seeing NASCAR on a F1 weekend.
“I think it just brings in a different fan base. And why not? I think the weekends need to be busier, race weekends need to be busier for the fans. There’s quite a lot of down time always. So, I think it’s really cool; it’s a great idea.”
Scott Dixon, the winner of the IndyCar race on Saturday (Aug. 12), was yet another driver that had high praise for the action-packed weekend.
“I think [the doubleheader] is fantastic,” Dixon said. “From my point of view, I’m a race fan, man. I love IndyCar racing, I love V8 Supercars, I love NASCAR, I love F1. So, to have both of them on the same weekend is huge, and I think for NASCAR to move to the road course – I think – was pretty special as well.”
As for runner-up Graham Rahal, he perhaps said it better than anyone else.
“As I said yesterday, I hope we can figure out how to make more of these [doubleheaders] happen, it’s a damn cool thing for motorsports fans. So, hopefully we can figure out a way to keep it going.”
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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