Despite the possibility of NASCAR returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval for the 2022 season, Roger Penske announced on Friday the road course would remain in place for the 2023 season.
What is the future of NASCAR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, according to those in charge, and what does this mean for the sport at the venue?
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Roger Penske announces plans for NASCAR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The topic of NASCAR returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval was squashed when Roger Penske said the series will remain on the road course for the 2023 season. However, it doesn’t mean the road course will be a permanent fixture on the NASCAR schedule moving forward. Many ideas are on the table for the venue in the future.
According to Penske, the people in charge are evaluating whether to switch to the oval track for the 2024 season. Every option appears to be open as the track’s future with NASCAR is questioned. Penske also mentioned the possibility of alternating between the road course and oval in the future. This might be the best option if people want to see the road course remain a part of the schedule.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles said they are really committed to the road course in the short-term future, so unless things change, it might be more likely for the two styles to alternate. These comments were made on the same day as the announcement of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in September 2023.
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The series last competed on the circuit in 2014 and is being labeled as the “IMSA Battle on the Bricks.” There is certainly hype around the speedway as many series are running on the road course layout.
Speaking of other series, Penske said he expected the NASCAR/IndyCar race weekend to continue next year. Both of the series are competing on the same track layout on the same weekend. This is the second straight year of it occurring. Both years have seen the NASCAR Xfinity Series and IndyCar Series ran on Saturday afternoon with one coming after the other.
What does this mean for NASCAR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
While the road course layout is not bad for NASCAR, it’s simply different than the traditional experience that race fans have experienced when they went to the Brickyard 400. Simply put, the oval track is obviously better than the road course. It’s a shame NASCAR can’t run on the oval layout but it doesn’t mean the road course layout isn’t good.
For example, imagine if NASCAR went to Daytona and decided to only run on the road course. What about the Coca-Cola 600 being taken off the calendar for a longer ROVAL event? It does not make sense to go to a historic venue and not run what it is famously known to do in a stock car. Sure, the road course is fun, but it does not compare to the oval track.
There is hope that NASCAR can return to the oval layout, based on what Roger Penske stated on Friday morning. Many fans would take a Crown Jewel event every other year than not one occurring at all. It’s way different winning a Brickyard 400 than a road course event at the same speedway. The bricks would taste much sweeter when the driver kisses them after they win the event.
The racing might not be fantastic on the oval, but who says that road course racing is any more fun? The road course events have mostly been worse than the ovals in terms of entertainment anyway. The idea of running the oval layout is not dead and hopefully, there can at least be a compromise rather than simply running the road course moving forward.