Nationwide to race at Indy in 2012
Date published : 07 Jul 2011 - 08:33:45
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will run for the first time at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next year as a support race for the Brickyard 400.
Track officials announced on Wednesday that NASCAR's second-tier series will race on the 2.5-mile track on July 28, 2012, moving from the smaller Indianapolis Raceway Park Lucas Oil Raceway, where it has competed since 1982.
Besides the Nationwide Series event, the Grand-Am series will also be part of the schedule with a planned three-hour race on July 27, which will take place on the circuit's road course that staged the Formula 1 US Grand Prix between 2000 and 2007.
In 2009 Grand-Am tested both the F1 and MotoGP road course layouts, eventually deciding that the former was more suitable for their endurance events.
"We're going to triple our hours of track activity here," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO Jeff Belskus. "That will be good for the fans. It will be good for the sponsors. We're billing it as a Super Weekend in motorsports.
"To come here and see all the different types of competition, whether it be on the road course or on the oval, it will be great for our fans, it will be good for the sponsors. It's going to be a fun weekend."
The Brickyard 400, rated as one of NASCAR's premier events, has suffered a marked decrease in attendance in recent years with a massive drop coming in 2009 following Goodyear's tyre debacle the previous year.
In 2008 the race had to run under caution every 10-12 laps due to tyres failing with excessive wear.
Up until this year the race has been run as a stand-alone event, the only one on the calendar without a NASCAR support event at the same venue.
NASCAR's Truck and the Nationwide Series have raced on the same weekend in Indianapolis at the nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park, a 0.68-mile oval with a 30,000 crowd capacity. It now looks likely to be axed from NASCAR national series schedules.
"Seventeen years ago when we ran our first race here, we've benefited from that impact ever since," said NASCAR president Mike Helton.
"So now to be able to add our second stock car series, the Nationwide Series, and North America's greatest sports car series, Grand-Am, I think it speaks of the commitment that NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have with each other to better the future of motorsports to create a truly a world-class event here in July in the middle of our season, which gives us a great moment to look to."
Officials are hopeful that the new weekend format will boost attendance figures back up to numbers that compared well to 200,000-plus crowds for the Indianapolis 500.