INDIANAPOLIS — The NASCAR Cup Series has not raced on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval since 2020.
The oval race had been in a state of steady decline since the late 2000s in both attendance and quality of racing.
Over the last three years, the series has been racing what has been billed as the same race on the IMS road course rebranded the “Verizon 200 at the Brickyard.”
Met with mixed reviews from both fans and drivers alike, NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been forthright in saying they have been looking for ways to get stock cars back on the oval.
“We continue to talk with our friends at NASCAR and think through when the right time is to come back on the oval,” IMS President Doug Boles said back in May. “I think we’ve said for the last several years that we would probably be back on the oval at some point in time.”
It appears that time may be sooner rather than later, at least that is based on comments made by Goodyear director of race tire sales Greg Stucker.
Talking with NASCAR Radio on Sirius XM this week, Stucker indicated they have plans to conduct a tire test on the IMS oval soon.
“We’re going to go to Indy and run the oval,” Stucker said. “We just feel there is enough discussion about potentially going back on the oval in the future, let’s take the opportunity to get back on that race track.”
Stucker said it is worth looking into given the fact that NASCAR’s “Next Gen car” has never run on the oval, only on the road course at Indy.
“The last time we took a new car to Indianapolis it didn’t fair too terribly well,” he added. “We want to try and get ahead of that.”
Stucker refers to the tire debacle of 2008 when NASCAR brought its heavier “Car of Tomorrow” to Indy for the Brickyard 400 without having tested it on the diamond ground racing surface. The result was a race halted every ten laps for competition cautions in order for teams to change tires because of quickly degrading tires.
The 2008 race is widely considered to be the beginning of the decline of the Brickyard 400 in popularity.
Stucker hopes to have a “good starting point” with the Next Gen car in order to build on the possibility of returning to the oval. He did not release a date for the upcoming tire test. In like manner, it’s not clear when or if a decision could be made on if the IMS oval could be on the 2024 calendar.
“They haven’t been on this oval for several years now, so to be able to come here and think that through,” Boles said in May. “We’ll definitely get back there at some point in time. I don’t think we’ve made a final decision yet when that will be.”
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