The Frontstretch: Two Years After Losing Lucas Oil Raceway, Hope Looms by Kevin Rutherford -- Thursday July 25, 2013

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Two Years After Losing Lucas Oil Raceway, Hope Looms

Kevin Rutherford · Thursday July 25, 2013

 

One year ago marked the beginning of a new era in NASCAR. For the first time, the Nationwide Series ventured to Indianapolis, Ind., rather than nearby Clermont, on the same weekend as the Brickyard 400. The Camping World Truck Series, also a regular visitor to Clermont’s Lucas Oil Raceway that weekend, sat out entirely.

The move rustled some feathers, particularly among fans of the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil track, formerly known as the Indianapolis Raceway Park. Regarded as putting on some of the best shows of the season, the track had lost its main NASCAR events to the behemoth known as Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

The salt in the wound was the resulting race, the Indiana 250, which bored, bored and bored some more. Brad Keselowski won the 100-lap race, which was touted as history in the making by ESPN analysts, given the track’s prestigious past. No one could pass, a Cup driver won and the fans that actually made it out to the track (and there were a lot of empty seats) didn’t seem to care a whole lot.

Meanwhile, Lucas Oil Raceway sat without a NASCAR race, taking away the beating and banging that made the Friday and Saturday night that weekend so much fun. I count myself lucky to have made it to a few of the Nationwide and Truck races there, and they were easily some of the best NASCAR races I’ve witnessed.

A year later, the makeup of the week has changed. But is it for the better?

It’s interesting, because who have you heard talk about the Brickyard 400 or its Saturday counterpart both this week and in the past few weeks? Did you forget the series were even traveling to Indianapolis? I sure did.

That’s because of the inaugural Mudsummer Classic, held about 100 miles east of Indianapolis in the small, small town of Rossburg, Ohio. Eldora Speedway is the place and the Camping World Truck Series on dirt is the race.

Instead of a week of could’ve-beens and back-in-my-days, NASCAR could actually be in for a new tradition, one that may end up a blessing rather than something wholly negative after leaving Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The Mudsummer Classic has an insane amount of hype leading up to tonight’s event, stemming from NASCAR’s absence from dirt in its main three series over the past few decades. No one knows what’s going to happen and how the trucks will react, especially in race conditions, but one thing’s for sure: it’ll be entertaining.

If the Eldora race, which is sold out, ends up a hit all across the board, it’s worth wondering if the event could pave the way for more dirt racing across NASCAR’s three top series.

Perhaps a Nationwide race at Eldora?

Given the week on which the Truck race falls, it’s admittedly a bit much to expect the Sprint Cup Series to disown its Brickyard 400 to come dirt racing, but what about a Nationwide race on the track the same week? It’s not like the series has any major ties to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, nor do the majority fans seem enamored with the concept of having a race on the historic track.

Picture it: Trucks at Eldora Wednesday or Thursday, Nationwide the next day, and then Cup takes Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400.

Might just be one of NASCAR’s bigger weeks for racing. Maybe this whole ‘losing IRP’ thing might not end up so bad after all.

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sal
07/25/2013 01:05 PM
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For me, the hope is that someone in Daytona realizes that short tracks with no dependence on aero make for more exciting races. Realistically, Cup cars won’t race on dirt…but the short tracks are where the trucks started.

Sue Rarick
07/26/2013 07:09 AM
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How about Eldora on wed/ Lucas on Sat/ have a picnic…….oops…..Indy on Sun.

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