Ken de la Bastide
It has become an annual ritual for those NASCAR beat writers to complain
about how boring the Sprint Cup race is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
They complain about the fact that attendance has dwindled, there is little
passing during the Brickyard 400 and the cars run in single file.
The truth of the matter is that attendance is down at all NASCAR races.
Empty grandstands and large sections of bleacher seats closed to the public
so it appears there are lots of fans in the stands.
Even the night race at Bristol, which used to be one of the toughest tickets
in racing to come by, is no longer selling out.
Estimates of the crowd at IMS this past Sunday was somewhere between
80,000 and 90,000 people. Granted when one considers IMS seats well over
200,000 people, when the track is half full it looks empty.
Places like Atlanta, Chicago, Pocono, Darlington, Dover and New Hampshire
would consider 90,000 fans in the stands a success.
But for some reason IMS is put into a category all its own, the rules are
different. Even before the first lap was turned on Sunday, there were some
in the media center dishing the race.
Was the race boring, no more than most NASCAR races this year? Fans have
been complaining about the lack of passing and close racing, except
following restarts for several years and this has not changed in 2013.
The problem has been the current rule package has placed a premium on track
position. The car leading the field will pull away and other competitors
will have a tough time making a pass.
There needs to be a change in the aerodynamic package of the cars to
eliminate the advantage of so-called "clean air".
For the most part the Brickyard 400 was like every other race run by NASCAR,
except at Daytona and Talladega.
The IMS race was more interesting than most because the two dominate cars on
the day, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson, battled for the lead throughout the
race. Had Johnson not had a 17-second pit stop with less than 26 remaining,
it would have been a much closer finish.
I kept waiting for NASCAR to throw a late caution flag at IMS to bunch up
the field for another restart. It seems like many of their races have a late
caution to add some excitement to the finish.
One has to wonder if Johnson was leading and Newman chasing, would there
have been a late race caution flag to bunch up the field?
Do the national scribes want to talk about boring racing, have they watched
a Nationwide Series race lately. Kyle Busch has won eight of the
15 races and normally wins in overwhelming fashion.
If the truth be known, NASCAR took away a good Nationwide Series race in
Indianapolis when it moved the event from Lucas Oil Raceway to IMS. The LOR
races were always filled with bumping and banging and an exciting finish.
The best two races of the weekend were the Champion Racing Association Super
Series and JEGS All-Stars Tour events at LOR on Friday.
With discussions taking place in Indianapolis about moving the sports car
races from the Brickyard weekend to either May or September, will that mean
a Camping World Truck Series event will be added at IMS?
The Truck Series needs to return to Eldora Speedway for a race on the dirt
and away from IMS.
Running the Brickyard 400 at night, maybe as soon as 2014, would renew fan
interest in the race. Temperatures would be cooler and the competition
should improve with the cars getting more tire grip in the corners.
Whether people like it or not, a win at IMS is second only to winning the