More races at Indy is really just sad

July, 6, 2011

There was a time when fans didn't need another reason beyond the Sprint Cup Series to attend a NASCAR race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because it was a special place.

There was a time when IMS officials didn't want or need another series to accompany a Cup race, believing the privilege to compete on the historic surface should be limited to the top-tier drivers in NASCAR and IndyCar racing.

Well, those days are gone.

And it's sad.

IMS made it official Wednesday, announcing the Nationwide Series and Grand-Am Series will be held in conjunction with the Cup weekend in 2012. NASCAR president Mike Helton called the announcement "exciting for NASCAR and its fans."

The track billed this as a "Super Weekend" with non-stop excitement.

Beyond the increase in ticket sales IMS officials hope to generate by having more on-track activity, this is anything but exciting.

In order to give IMS more bang for its buck, NASCAR took away one of the most anticipated Nationwide races of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway, formerly known as O'Reilly Raceway Park.

The tradeoff for ticket sales versus a race that will never be as exciting as the ones seen at LOR is a shame.

Or haven't you noticed that Cup races aren't all that thrilling at IMS?

This is just another sign that the tough times facing NASCAR and its tracks aren't over. IMS drew only 140,000 fans last season -- well below the 270,000 it drew in 2007 -- and the pace for the upcoming race is below that.

And how good will the picture look to have 40,000 or 50,000 at a Nationwide event in a facility that seats over 250,000?

Unfortunately LOR, which has hosted a Nationwide event since 1982, pays the price.

Ultimately, the fans will pay the price because the Nationwide show at Indy will pale in comparison to what they got on the .686-mile LOR oval on which finishes were tight and tempers flared.

I get that it'll be cool for Nationwide drivers that don't double in Cup to compete at IMS, but it should be a privilege, earned by working their way into the top series. Now among the list of Hall of Fame IMS winners -- Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson -- we could see Reed Sorenson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Nothing personal against those drivers, but do they deserve to cross the same yard of bricks that A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Al and Bobby Unser and Mario Andretti did after winning the Indianapolis 500?

The Brickyard just became like every other NASCAR track. Yeah, it's still special, but it's not as special as it was before this announcement.

I get why IMS did this. More track activity creates more interest and more reasons to attend.

I don't understand the schedule, which forces already financially-strapped Nationwide teams to show up for practice on Thursday, sit all day Friday and then practice, qualify and race on Saturday.

If the track is going to make this move, at least give teams a reason to be there on Friday. Spread out the schedule or make it a two-day show.

Unfortunately, there is nothing the track can do to make the racing more exciting at IMS. Fans will complain about it. Media will write about it.

It's sad.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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