NASCAR drivers are not happy with the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway being converted into a road course race.
The prestige of the IMS is held high among the NASCAR drivers but the fans share a different opinion. For a place that used to boast more than 250,000 fans in the stands, recent years have seen a turnout of just 40,000 to 50,000 fans.
Because of the decline in fans, NASCAR has been fired to reconceptualize their race at the track. Because of which the Cup race will now be turned to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at the track.
While drivers understand the need for change but believe that the track will no longer be “a crown jewel” that it used to be.
Denny Hamlin questioned the change and is sceptical that the change will bring about more fans.
“We lost a crown jewel. People hated the racing. I don’t know. Are they really going to get more people out to the road course than what they did for the Brickyard 400? I’m not sure. I don’t love it; I don’t love the move. It took away a crown jewel. I don’t think anyone will consider the Indy road course any sort of crown jewel race. Indy, because of the oval track, that’s what makes Indy so special. I don’t think it’s the last time we’ll be back on the Brickyard on the oval. We can’t just keep adding road courses and just keep adding road courses, everything is cool the first time. The second time … although we might have a good crowd next weekend for the road course, year two, I think it’s going to be back to, where’s all the people? Maybe alternate or something, but certainly I think the Brickyard is special and Indy is special because of the oval, not because of the road course.”
Kevin Harvick says that the track holds a special place for him and cannot think of himself driving in a new environment.
“For me, driving through that tunnel and understanding the history and everything that comes with racing on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something that I always look forward to. I can’t imagine driving backward on the frontstretch and driving the road course in the infield. It’s an oval thing for me. When you look at the oval and you look at the history of the racetrack and everything that comes with that – some guys may not have grown up like that, so some people will have a much different opinion – but for me the oval just holds a huge place in racing and it holds a huge place in the things that I look forward to every year. I remember the first time I pulled in there for a test in 2001 and you roll into the racetrack and you think, ‘Man, I just accomplished everything in my childhood dreams, rolling into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.’ Getting to go out on that racetrack and hearing the echoes of the cars through the grandstand is something that I’ll never forget, standing there on the front straightaway. I’m sure I’ll get over it as we start to get into practice and realize it’s just another race but, for me, it’s going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome.”