NASCAR is trying to fix the racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Enter the Indianapolis restrictor plate
Oh man! Lets call a rectangle, a rectangle and an oval, an oval. Then enter a new Indianapolis short track instead?
The Indianapolis restrictor plate rules package was announced yesterday. It’s a very desperate, bold move. An attempt to fix the stock car racing show at an open-wheel track in Indianapolis, IN.
IMS wasn’t built for stock cars, in any way. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built for the Verizon INDYCAR Series, imagine that. It’s a 2.5 mile, flat, rectangular oval. A blueprint designed for light, high speed and agile racecars. Nothing about this place screams, NASCAR.
You could say the same about the town itself. That’s open wheel territory. They embrace INDYCAR, basically circling the entire month of May and highlighting it with festivals. Those celebrations engage the city, leading up to the Indianapolis 500. NASCAR heads to Indy in July, no festivals.
Meanwhile, attendance is lower than ever for the Brickyard 400. I don’t blame you for not attending. The race is one of the more tedious dates on the schedule. It’s no Indy 500. When the leader is very literally a mile ahead of 2nd place, that’s not something you’ll travel across the country or pay a penny to see.
So, what we have is a track problem. It’s not a car or package problem. It’s NASCAR shoving an overly-commercialized program to us and expecting us to dig it for the prestige of the track alone. Most likely, you and I both don’t give a shit about the track history. We want great racing.
The Indy restrictor plate is a bold change. Fans are up in arms, but officials literally can’t make it any worse. So why not try something new? I think the fans hear restrictor plate and think ‘slow’ then equate ‘slow’ with ‘not good’. I’ve never gone to a racetrack looking for speed, I look for racing. If the product is better and the cars are going 10 mph slower, that’s a fair trade.
With that said, I don’t think an Indianapolis restrictor plate will work, at all. Part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway NASCAR rules package features a bigger spoiler and a newly introduced, aero-duct. The aero duct could be a game changer, for all racing series.
Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation and Racing Development, told NASCAR.com about the package. Explaining, “The aero ducts direct air in through the existing brake ducts and out through the wheelhouse on each side. The high speed air flowing out creates a larger hole or “envelope” for the trailing car.”
That’s all fine and dandy. I guess we’ll see more passes down the straight-away. AKA, an INDYCAR pass. What happens when the cars reach the corner and the trailing car needs that air for downforce? Never mind, I already nodded off. I was just thinking about the upcoming July race.
I like the repair effort. In reality, what the hell is NASCAR doing at this place? NASCAR will continue the event through the 2020 contract with the track. In 2021, we have some options.
Indianapolis has an alternative track. A track that screams, NASCAR! It just doesn’t scream the modern-day cookie-cutter version of NASCAR. I still have hope for the sport.
Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis is a fantastic 0.686-mile oval. It’s slick, mirroring baby oil on the track, kinda slick. It’s not a bullring. But if we’re speaking in 1.5 mile NASCAR terms, it’s a bullring.
Formerly it was known as Indianapolis Raceway Park or IRP. The track has hosted NASCAR races in the past, as recently as 2011. It was packed. This was before NASCAR decided they needed to take an eraser to all the short tracks on the schedule and replace them with Speedways. Because I guess “NASCAR is bigger than short track racing”.
Want to see a good race? Watch the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series race from Indianapolis Raceway Park. That video is posted below.
The seating capacity at Lucas Oil Raceway is only 30,000. Which is likely one of the many reasons NASCAR left the track in the first place. That and perhaps NASCAR wanted to piggy back off the prestige of another racing series’ event. Benefitting from INDYCAR’s successful Indianapolis 500. It’s NASCAR creating a sister event at a much larger track, just down the road from Lucas Oil Raceway.
Add the fact Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a larger wallet. By all means… follow that money, until all the fans nod off in their aluminum seat and puke their $10 beer.
However, in 2017 NASCAR has fallen. Rather spectacularly, attendance wise, they can nearly go back to Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis. They could take the Xfinity Series back and not have any concern of the grandstands being “too full”.
In comparison to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway event, another Lucas Oil Raceway sellout would be an increase in attendance. I think I saw 5 people in the grandstands [not far from actual numbers] for last years NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Bring the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to Lucas Oil Raceway and you’ll need to add a few seats. Something I’m sure the track would be thrilled to do.
I like that NASCAR executives have acknowledged they have an issue at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It’s a great start. I don’t mind them trying things to fix the show. The restrictor plates could work.
But when they don’t, NASCAR and the City of Indianapolis can still hold hands. It just can’t be a program built on the prestige of entirely different racing series, NASCAR isn’t INDYCAR. Let’s go stock car racing, on an elegantly weathered yet proper short track stock car racing oval. The fans will come to Lucas Oil Raceway.
Why not? You’ve thrown the kitchen sink at the rules. Let’s get to the actual root of the problem, the tracks.
Hello? NASCAR? Your fan base continues to tell you the same thing, over and over. Is anyone there?
Author: Shane Walters
NASCAR at Lucas Oil Raceway Park Photos
Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis
2002 NASCAR Busch Series Race