NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Could Indianapolis Motor Speedway Ever Change its Configuration?

Restrictor plates are meant for superspeedways, right? Well, that might not be the case any longer.

Things are changing in NASCAR, and in a hurry. With new title sponsors over the past handful of seasons, the sport is trying to spice things up.

Change can’t hurt. Or can it?

Either way, it is a solid time for NASCAR to begin exploring the world of change, especially in the Monster Energy Cup Series with a new title sponsor that likes things done in a risky fashion nine times out of 10. But while making these changes, the sanctioning body is being careful to not shy away from the sport’s older fans, who like things done in a traditional way.

Q: What would it take to get IMS to change the track to make it better to view and more racey? The track is too narrow for stock cars. – , Wisconsin

A: Changing any track to make views different in the grandstands is not an easy task. It takes several million dollars (at minimum) for a project like that.

Not only will the stands need to be shifted and rearranged, like the massive project at Phoenix Raceway that is set to start in the coming weeks, but it requires fan feedback as well. What makes a good seat at a track like Indianapolis Motor Speedway? What makes a bad one? What is an ideological way to approach that?

And for a track that holds 250,000 people, there are certainly great views at different portions of the track. Obviously, the higher one sits at any track, the more you can see.

Growing up, I went to Pocono Raceway with my father. We would sit in the first row right by the start / finish line, which is an unbelievable way to get the adrenaline pumping and also to lose your hearing with the roar of then 43 racecars flying right by. But as we changed things up, the higher seats were more ideal (and more expensive).

Unlike other sports, NASCAR’s ticket prices usually get more expensive the higher one wants to sit in the stands. Why? Because you can actually see everything going on.

At Pocono, the first row guarantees fans to see the entry to Turn 1, the exit of Turn 3, the entire frontstretch and a whole lot of nothing besides that. Ideal? No. But that is what you get for a $45 ticket to a race.

2016 Indianapolis Cup Tony Stewart pagoda vertical Brett Moist NKP
Single-file racing has become more common than not at the track known as “the Brickyard”. (Photo: Brett Moist / NKP)

For Indianapolis in particular, there is no way that facility will ever change its structure. It is meant for open-wheel racing and not stock car racing. That is just the nature of how it was built.

But an interesting move would be for NASCAR to utilize Indianapolis’ road course, which now hosts an annual Verizon IndyCar Series race leading up to the Indianapolis 500 and the former home of the United States Grand Prix for Formula 1.

NASCAR needs more road courses. It’s what fans have been asking for and Indianapolis is the perfect location for it. It’s a historic venue that would not lose any of its value due to not racing on the oval.

Q: Why will there be restrictor plates at Indianapolis for the XFINITY Series? – Lindsey R., South Carolina

A: This move could be one of the best we have seen in a long time for the XFINITY Series.

Originally reported by Michael Knight of USA Today, the XFINITY Series will be running restrictor plates at Indianapolis come the July 22 event. It will be the first time since the failed attempt to use restrictor plates at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000 for the Cup Series that a track that is not a superspeedway will have the engine restrictors to change the racing.

The XFINITY Series races at Indianapolis have been lackluster since NASCAR moved from the local short track, Lucas Oil Raceway, to the 2.5-mile speedway in 2012. The unpopular move to take a short track off the schedule has not paid off, with four of the five winners being Cup regulars.

But now, after testing out the restrictor plates in non-race conditions, NASCAR has ultimately decided it will be best to test the plates in the XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis. Why not spice things up, or at least attempt to do so?

The current XFINITY Series package features plenty of downforce, making it difficult for drivers to pass, especially on a track with flat corners like Indianapolis. But the hope is that with the restrictor plates, it will not only open up the top lane, but it will create more passing and drama in what has been a disappointing race time and time again.

While the 2014 version of the 250-mile contest was quite entertaining, with Ty Dillon holding off Cup regulars Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Paul Menard, there has since never been such a race at the track. The lack of drama has been astonishing, and fans have demanded a change.

The best part about this move is it will serve as a test session for future tracks to have plate races, such as Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway, which have been under the radar for such a change. Whether or not that happens is yet to be seen, but if all goes well at IMS come July, we could see some major changes coming to NASCAR’s premier series as soon as later this year.

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John Matthew

How much worse can stock car racing at Indy be? We are about to find out when Xfinity uses restrictor plates. NASCAR too good Xfinity and truck races away from IRP and made them into bad ones at the 500 track. Now comes plate racing? Give me a break. What a way for NASCAR to drive fans away when they need to attract them. Color me disappointed and not watching. I only live 50 miles from the track, but i won’t even consider going.

TheNASCARJeff

The problem is…. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was build for speeds of maybe 90 to 100 mph not the 180 the Stock Cars reach and even the Indycars which run at 230 have a difficult time with the track because it is a one groove race track.

Meaning?

Crappy racing for all series that race there and adding a restrictor plate to the Xfinity and or Cup cars will only make a bad race worse, if that is possible.

Someone in Daytona Beach needs to fall on the sword and admit that removing IRP from the Xfinity and Truck schedule was wrong and that NASCAR as a series does not belong at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Suggestion: If IMS was removed from the schedule the date could be given to the Atlanta Motor Speedway as a night race since its own date as the second race of the season sucks. A triple header night race weekend!

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