Where do NASCAR and IMS go from here after another boring Brickyard 400?
What makes NASCAR at Indy different from anywhere else is that it's the only spot on the NASCAR schedule where Sprint Cup isn't the biggest date on a track's calendar. At Indy, that is of course the Indianapolis 500. My semi-education speculation is that creates tension. NASCAR never likes being 2nd place, and IMS is the one place where it is. That tension shows in how they approach the boring racing at the Brickyard 400. Those in Indianapolis ask "What can NASCAR do?" In their minds, it's up to NASCAR to figure something out with the aero package. Those in NASCAR circle ask "What can IMS do?" In their minds, it's the track's fault. Call me biased, but I think people forget that IMS was built 40 years before stock cars existed, so it's no wonder that the track doesn't completely work for stock cars. With the new car apparently not helping, I'm at a loss on what could help. The one thing that keeps getting brought up is lights. However, according to Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star, installing lights would cost at least $20 million, and obviously that does nothing to improve the actual racing.
The racing is just one reason why attendance has dropped. The novelty of stock cars at the Brickyard has faded. The race is usually run in unbearable heat, and there are still memories of the tire fiasco a few years ago. Of course, despite all the empty seats, the Brickyard is still one of NASCAR's best attended races. The problem is when a facility seats almost 250,000, a crowd of 75,000 looks empty. A full house might be a pipe dream at this point. The goal should be getting back a six figure crowd and going from there. Indianapolis is one of NASCAR's best markets (it's almost always a top five market in TV ratings), so it is possible. The hope is that stock cars and Indianapolis Motor Speedway aren't completely incompatible. The Brickyard 400 is an important race and I hope it succeeds (even if I have odd feelings about it). It should be one of the biggest races of the motorsports. Time will tell if NASCAR and the Speedway can make it happen.