Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The yard of bricks. Full of fans on both sides of the front stretch and full of passing.
Well, that’s what it used to be.
After NASCAR held its annual race at the most famous track in all of motorsports this past weekend, questions have been raised about the future of the Brickyard 400, which was a flat-out snooze fest. There was only one pass for the lead during a green flag run that wasn’t constituted by someone pitting.
Now, NASCAR as a whole is under a lot of pressure. The Generation Six car hasn’t performed to expectations. It’s made the racing worse on intermediate tracks and there’s been no action at those tracks at all. Sure, the car looks great, but it just has not been making racing competitive like expected. The Generation Five car may not have looked the best, yet the competition was evened out and put passing at a premium.
So, how does NASCAR fix what they should not have changed to begin with?
Well, after much consideration for making the new car look like street cars, it turns out that having the stock car look like what NASCAR’s had for several decades may be the best thing for the state of the sport. Back with the Generation Four (the car before the Car of Tomorrow), competition was as great as it can get. There was passing like no tomorrow at every track and no one had a certain edge on the rest of the field.
As of late, it seems like one or two drivers will take the lead each week and flat out dominate the race simply because no one can pass with the new car.
Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman separated from the field during the Brickyard 400 and at one point had a nearly 15-second lead on the third-place car. Not even the IZOD INDY Car Series was that noncompetitive during the Indianapolis 500.
The 500 had a record number of lead changes and most of them were during green flag runs. During the Brickyard 400, on the other hand, 20 of the 21 lead changes were either under caution or due to drivers pitting — that’s not what NASCAR is about.
NASCAR is known for tighter competition than any other racing series around the world and it’s losing that touch.
The new car is simply too well-prepared. All the teams have nearly the exact same speeds each weekend. Cars can’t pass because they’re just too close in lap times. Slowing down the cars is one option, but who wants to slow down a race car? There are rumors that they are looking at making the Brickyard 400 a night race, but that’ll just create the same exact race … only under the lights in prime time.
Another thing that needs to be fixed is ticket prices, which are way too expensive. With a capacity of over 200,000, the track can clearly afford to lower ticket prices. The lower the prices, the more people will come. Most of those people will end up buying products at concessions, which makes up for the lowered seat price. It’ll make the stands a lot more full and make the track and NASCAR look better as well.
There’s actually a simple solution for all the problems which NASCAR has been having to deal with lately: bring back the old car.
Doing so would be better as it’ll make the competition just as close and put passing at a premium. The ARCA Series uses NASCAR’s old Generation Four type body style, which has been very successful and looks great on the track.
It would only work if NASCAR brings it back part-time though. Why should teams get rid of new inventory they just built? Well, they can use the Generation Six car at tracks shorter than 1.5 miles. This could help NASCAR big time.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.