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Motorsports 101 Debate: What Change Could Make NASCAR Racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway More Exciting?

July 31st, 2013 at 10:30 AM
By Mark Eddinger

A lot of NASCAR fans are tired of watching races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because the on-track racing is not very exciting. The Brickyard 400 used to be prestigious and really one of NASCAR's bigger races, but as 20 years has passed fans are growing tired of it. What change could bring excitement and fans back to NASCAR racing at Indy? Motorsports 101 debates.

Slower Speeds For the Gen 6 Car – By Clayton Caldwell

There are a lot of arguments made for trying to fix the racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There are a select group of fans who believe that NASCAR should get rid of the entire Indianapolis weekend entirely.
'Indianapolis Motor Speedway entrance' photo (c) 2011, momentcaptured1 - license:
I personally think drivers enjoy driving at the track, and the drivers care a little more because of the prestige of winning at Indianapolis.

One thing that NASCAR needs to do at Indianapolis is slow down the Generation Six racecar. There was one lead change at Indianapolis on Sunday, or at least only one that took place on the racetrack. If it wasn’t for three bogus yellow flags, we may never have seen a pass for the lead on the racetrack. The only lead change was a mid-race restart when Joey Logano passed Brad Keselowski. 
Clean air was king. The leader got out front and didn’t look back. Slowing the cars down 10-15 miles per hour would reduce the need for aerodynamics. Clean air still may be a factor but it is doubtful it would be any more of a factor. 
One thing that drives NASCAR fans nuts is when people say there should be automatic cautions for Sprint Cup races. It is understandable that double file restarts are exciting but fixing races by throwing cautions is not a way to create drama. Part of the reason why most races are 400-600 miles is to see if equipment and the drivers can hold up for that long and it is suppose to play out the right way. If cautions are needed to generate excitement into the racing something is desperately wrong and needs to be looked at. 
There is still a ton of work to do with the Gen Six car. The COT didn’t run great on the mile and a half tracks. The Gen Six car is an upgrade, especially on the short tracks and mile and a half race tracks, but the Gen Six car is lacking on the flat wide tracks, like Pocono and Indianapolis. Even at Sonoma the car just didn’t seem to race good.
The car is always a work in progress and NASCAR hasn’t made too many known changes to the car since the beginning of the season. Changes for the larger flat tracks like Indy seems to be something NASCAR needs to work on by the time the Sprint Cup Series returns for the 2014 Brickyard 400.
Restrictor-Plates - By Mark Eddinger

Fans are enthralled by the close pack racing that occurs twice a year a both Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. That type of racing is only in place at those two tracks because of the restrictor-plates that are used to limit the power the cars can turn. In essence, it makes it so the lead car can't pull away from the rest of the pack.

The restrictor plate has been used at Daytona and Talladega ever since 1988 when average speed way pushing over 210 mph. Before then the racing wasn't always that exciting at those two tracks either because the fastest car or cars would pull out to a large lead and usually dominate the day. That is what happens currently at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

'Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Speedway, IN' photo (c) 2007, Josh Hallett - license:

So why not give restrictor-plates a try at Indy if you're NASCAR? The track isn't banked like Daytona or Talladega so the racing would most likely be different but the effect should be similar. The leader in theory shouldn't be able to pull away and drafting will become absolutely key.

Drivers would have to make their moves down the large straight-a-ways and then get mostly single file by the corners just because it is so hard to get through the narrow groove two wide. There is a chance that they may even be able to run two wide through the corners with the restrictor-plates on.

As was stated in an article on Monday, racing at Indy is more about the history than providing great racing and that is fine. But if NASCAR does want to try something new to bring the fans back and more eyeballs to the Brickyard then trying restrictor-plates should be considered.

A wild show would be on the docket for sure. "The Big One" that occurs at Daytona and Talladega would certainly be only a mistake away from happening at Indy. If for some reason restrcitor-plates really do not add anything to the racing at Indianapolis then NASCAR can go back to the way it is right now and no harm would have been done. NASCAR wanted to be at the place IndyCar calls its home and that was well and good for the past but NASCAR has to be thinking about how to keep their fans interested in a race at the historic track. IndyCar has been putting on a fantastic race in the Indianapolis 500 the last few seasons while the Brickyard 400 has been a dud. Restrictor-plate racing could be the answer.

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Tags: brickyard 400, Clayton Caldwell, Daytona International Speedway, indianapolis motor speedway, Mark Eddinger, Motorsports, NASCAR, Sprint Cup Series, Talladega Superspeedway

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