Roger Penske addresses NASCAR’s future on Indianapolis Oval
Getty Roger Penske has weighed in on NASCAR’s future at the Indianapolis Oval.
The captain provided important insight into the future of NASCAR. Roger Penske asked if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval would ever return to one of the National Series programs.
Penske made the comments ahead of the IndyCar Series/NASCAR crossover weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. According to Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic, he said the Cup Series will return to the road course in 2023, marking the third consecutive season. NASCAR continues to assess whether to return to the oval in 2024.
Penske mentioned another unique option during his media availability. The Team Penske and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner said one possibility is to have NASCAR alternate years. The Cup Series could run the oval one year and the road course the next.
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The Cup Series moved to the road course in 2021
The Cup Series first took the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in the 1994 season. Jeff Gordon won the first NASCAR race at The Brickyard, his first of five trips to Victory Lane in 23 starts.
The series continued to race at the oval every season through 2020. Many drivers have won at the track including Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott and Tony Stewart among others. Kevin Harvick has actually raced the last two races at the oval to take three wins at IMS in his career.
The 2021 season marked a major change. The Cup Series joined the Xfinity Series on the road course of the first Verizon 200. AJ Allmendinger won the race which featured massive wreckage in the 5/6 turn and Chase Briscoe parked after the #14 went into grass. Briscoe also knocked out Denny Hamlin from the lead and sent him spinning on the final run to the checkered flag.
Conversation continues regarding Crown Jewel races
Will the NASCAR Cup Series return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval? There’s no clear answer, but the future of the track will impact another important conversation.
When Denny Hamlin won the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR said he won the last Crown Jewel race. He had three Daytona 500 wins, three Southern 500 wins and the Coca-Cola 600 win. What he didn’t have was a Brickyard 400 win.
The crown jewels have traditionally been the Daytona 500, Southern 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Brickyard 400. NASCAR even names all four races on its list of active drivers with Crown Jewel wins. Now, however, there are questions about the Brickyard 400. Can this race still be a crown jewel if the Cup Series drivers don’t have the opportunity to win it?
If NASCAR’s top series remains on the road course, it would make sense for the Brickyard 400’s status as an active Crown Jewel race to change. Although alternating races on the gigantic site offer the drivers the opportunity to fight for the historic victory.
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