Should Brickyard move back to the oval? What drivers are saying this weekend, “running on the oval is embarrassing for our series,” says Harvick

INDIANAPOLIS — For the 29th time, the NASCAR Cup Series comes to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, 27 of the 29 came on the 2.5-mile oval. The last two were on the 2.439-mile road course.

With the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series going back to IRP on Friday night, the nostalgia got people wondering if we’d ever see a Brickyard 400 again?

It’s worked in the past. The Southern 500 was moved from the Labor Day weekend date. That date went to Fontana, then Atlanta before NASCAR wizened up and moved it back to Darlington. NASCAR officials aren’t stubborn. They’ll admit when things that initially were right and were later wronged and aren’t afraid to make it right again.

So, will they do so here?

There’s rumors of Indianapolis starting to host a revolving road course/oval schedule for NASCAR. Maybe ever 3-4 years run the oval. Kind of similar how the city hosts the Final Four every so many years.

For NASCAR, maybe run the road course for 2-3 years, then in Year 4 run the oval and back to the road course for 2-3 more years and so on…

They didn’t deny discussions like that were taking place. However, some drivers don’t think that a change can happen quick enough.

“I love the shared weekend. Look race car drivers like being around race car drivers. I like watching other divisions race I just don’t like racing on a road course,” said 3-time Brickyard 400 champion, Kevin Harvick. “I feel like it’s a parking lot track but doesn’t flow very well. It’s not a very it’s just not a very good course. I mean, it’s not Road America and it’s not Sonoma and it’s not Watkins Glen and it’s, you know, it’s just just not a good track.

“Running on the oval is embarrassing for our series.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 10: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 10, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

He would know. He won the last two Brickyard 400’s here.

As far as why he’s so outspoken about it?

“What are they gonna find out? I think that’s the best way to do it. Easiest way to do it. I don’t have to. I don’t have to figure out what I said that I didn’t believe.”

What do others feel?

Christopher Bell put it bluntly. He likes the oval. It’s the history and prestige of it. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. says it doesn’t feel as much like a special event anymore.

“I mean, it doesn’t feel like it near as much as the oval does,” he says. “You know, I mean, it’s run on the ovals. I mean, just super historic. Right. And, you know, it’s the brickyard 400. So yeah, I mean, it’s it’s like Bristol, right like you want to win at Bristol, whether it’s dirt concrete and you want to win here at Indy whether it’s real course or oval, but the feel of it is not as is not the same.

“So yeah, I still enjoy it though. It’s still cool being here. At the same time you still get to kiss some bricks, right?”

AJ Allmendinger is great here on the road course and said that even being the inaugural road course winner here last year, it was still special. Was it a Jeff Gordon or Ray Harroun moment? That’s up for debate but he also feels like if you want to run the oval again, fans need to show out.

You can’t come back and no one comes. The crowd was more of an embarrassment for the series on the oval than running on the road course. For a race that used to pack the place, the empty grandstands weren’t appealing.

NASCAR made it clear that they’re going to go to where they’re wanted. If fans don’t show, they won’t come. It has to look visually appealing as a big event.

The massive facility ate up the estimated 50k crowds in the final years of the oval. A similar crowd on the road course doesn’t look as bad and keeps Indy as a date on the NASCAR calendar.

By revolving the road course and oval as a rotating system, it could spice up the oval crowd. If you don’t show, you won’t see it for a few more years….

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