INDIANAPOLIS— As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series finished the Fifth Annual Eldora Dirt Derby from Eldora Speedway on Wednesday, there were many claims that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series should look at special events like the Trucks have at Eldora.
For Denny Hamlin, the question pops out of whether or not the infrastructure is there to compete at tracks like Eldora. When it comes to infrastructure, Hamlin is talking about the garage area, amenities at the track for sponsors, and the amount of equipment the traveling circus brings to each event.
Hamlin would love to see the Cup series return to places like North Wilkesboro and Rockingham, but sees it as not feasible for today’s NASCAR.
“I think the truck series carries one certain amount of circus to it. With the Cup series, it is times 10. It would be tough as much as the Cup series has grown to bring that traveling circus to short track somewhere to be able to put on a show that makes sense, organized,” said Hamlin. “Does Eldora have timing and scoring loops or not? Probably not. When it gets down the nitty gritty of the Cup races and we are arguing who is leading at the line at this point or that point. How does that work with a track that doesn’t have scoring loops. I know Wilkesboro doesnt’t. That’s what I mean by infrastructure.”
When it comes to amenities, Hamlin looks at what each track can bring to a sponsor and ultimately the fans.
“Its tough to get these sponsors to come to these race tracks unless the amenities are about here (Indianapolis) or Daytona. You wanna have really nice everything. It seems like some of those old tracks got phased out because they were antiquated,” said Hamlin.
Hamlin commends tracks like Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway for upgrading their facilities to be the best for fans and sponsors.
“I like to see the new updates to tracks like Richmond. That’s state of the art. It’s going to bring a lot of new eyes and hopefully sponsors to those type race tracks,” said Hamlin.
INDIANAPOLIS— After his four race stint filling in for Aric Almirola, Bubba Wallace Jr. is still actively looking for sponsorship to participate in NASCAR.
After showing impeccable performance during his stint, reports indicated that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) was actively looking for sponsorship for potentially a second car for Wallace in 2018. RPM currently has leased their second charter to Matt DiBenedetto and GoFas Racing. RPM will either have to sell their charter or use it for a second car in 2018.
When asked, this is what Richard Petty said about Wallace and a second ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
“We haven’t talked that much to Darrell. He is still looking and trying to find a home. If we had the chance, we would definitely be more than interested in having him drive the car. Right now, it is up to somebody else. If somebody decides to be involved with us, then we will work it out from there.”
During his tenure at RPM, Wallace Jr had an average finish of 17.8 and average start of 22.5. Over the four race period, Wallace Jr actively increased his best finish from 26th to 11th. He competed in all but two laps during his time at RPM this season.
INDIANAPOLIS— As the NASCAR Xfinity Series runs a new package this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Lilly Diabetes 250, many drivers saw a great unknown coming into the event. However, those unknowns have been minimized after two practice sessions on the infamous 2.5-mile speedway.
“I kinda had a head start on it. Testing in October, I kinda knew the direction they were going to go in. I wasn’t sure if they were going to pull the trigger. When they decided to make the change, I already knew what it was going to feel like,” said Blake Koch about his initial reaction to the package. “The track temperature here at Indy changes more than anywhere we go. When it was 65 degrees back in October, it was a totally different car.
For Justin Allgaier, the race will still provide some unknown for teams.
“I think there was a lot of unknowns. I think there still are some unknowns. I probably wasn’t as on board with it before we got here. Granted I have a fast race car. Of course, I am not disappointed in the package,” said Allgaier
The drivers and NASCAR have the same outlook on this package that it is for the fans that the sport puts on the best show the can.
My outlook on it is that for us we need to put on a great race for the fans. This racetrack, this area of the country, Indianapolis is a racing town. Indianapolis is built on that racing foundation. We need to put on the best race can. It doesn’t matter if we all drive pink race cars, we gotta put on the best race we can,” said Allgaier. “I applaud NASCAR for at least trying. At the end of the day, they spent a lot of money to make this happen. They put a lot of time, effort, and research into this. Will it fix it? I can’t tell you that will be the case. I tell you that the fans that come here, watch it on TV, if nothing else, it will be exciting,” said Allgaier.
Fans can watch qualifying for the Lilly Diabetes 250 at 12:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT.
INDIANAPOLIS— Kyle Busch was so close to being able to run the Indianapolis 500 this season. However, there had to be some convincing done before he could participate in the event.
Busch had to convince one of his two bosses before he could participate in the Indianapolis 500. That boss was Coach Joe Gibbs.
“I had it done last year, sold and everything, but I got a boss that said no,” said Busch.
Despite not being able to run the 500 this year, Busch hopes that one day he will be able to, but was glad he did not because of Fernando Alonso skipping the Formula One race in Monaco to participate in the 500.
“I had a great opportunity to do it. I am kinda glad that I didn’t because (Fernando) Alonso kinda stole the headlines the last time it was done,” said Busch. “In the future, there will be guys coming over to run that race. I may have to split the limelight with somebody else who wants to run that race. I think it would be fun and unique opportunity.”
The biggest concern for Coach Gibbs was the fact that Busch had never driven an IndyCar. “The biggest fear was not knowing what those cars would do if you get in a bad situation,” Busch stated about the concern.
In NASCAR, the three manufacturers are Toyota, Chevrolet, and Ford. In Indycar, drivers are limited to only Chevrolet and Honda. For Busch, his options are open.
“It would keep your options open for the engine manufacturer. Obviously next year with the aero platform, that’s going to change. To my understanding, with just engines being the culprit, not necessarily being an engine package anymore. Obviously, if Toyota was a third, I would be limited to that. It does kinda keep your options open,” said Busch about his options if he chose to run the Indy 500.
At the end of the day, Busch would not trade a Brickyard 400 win for a win in the Indianapolis 500. “I would like the opportunity to be able to earn it myself. If that day ever comes, we will see what happens.”
INDIANAPOLIS— For the Lilly Diabetes 200 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the cars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series will have a different look when they hit the track for practice. Teams in the Xfinity garage will be running the 2016 splitter and spoiler, air ducts, and a restrictor plate in effort to create more passing and a better race.
Wayne Auton, Managing Director of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, emphasized on Friday morning that the changes were just for the Xfinity Series only.
“We did some extensive testing with sim work, we did a track test back in October before we went to the next race. This is all about the NASCAR Xfinity Series here at Indianapolis. I want to make that crystal clear,” said Auton.
In October, three teams came to Indianapolis to test the package. The drivers who participated in the test were Ryan Reed, Blake Koch, and Brandon Jones.
During the test, single car speeds were running around 56 seconds, but decreased to around 54 seconds when the cars were in a small pack.
“The one thing we did see was three cars running together once they got there cars dialed in is that halfway down the front stretch we had two cars lock up and run the single car down and pass them. We feel very confident that it will create some excitement to the race,” said Auton.
NASCAR added aero ducts in the same place where brake ducts went. The aero ducts are the most notable change according to Auton. Teams cannot make any changes to the aero ducts. NASCAR went to each shop over the past two months to make sure that the aero ducts would fit.
When it comes to returning to the 2016 splitter and spoiler, Wayne Auton said the teams still had those pieces still in the shop from last season. The spoiler and splitter were added to create some balance and wake to create some passing.
“The bigger spoiler it gets the balance back in the car, but we had to add the splitter to the front end to keep the balance there. The bigger spoiler will also make the wake. it’s a combination of the four ingredients on the car that make this package work.”
As teams look for ways to cut costs, NASCAR fully funded the effort this weekend at Indianapolis. Teams only had to build the cars to where NASCAR could place the appropriate parts.
“We supplied the ducts, the foam sealant, and all the bolts. The teams had absolutely no costs in the parts and pieces on the car. They had the spoilers and splitters from last year. We had the ducts in our possession at all times. Nobody could get their hands on them. We personally put them in every car here today.”
Auton emphasized that this was a collaborative effort amongst all partners. Auton stressed that everyone wants this package to work. NASCAR will constantly be in the garage talking to teams and sharing information across manufacturer lines in an effort to make this package work. “The teams were very instrumental in this package. They were all in,” said Auton.
After the event, NASCAR will talk to teams after the event to determine if the package was successful or not. However, Auton emphasized it will be what the fans thought about the event.
“It’s going to be hard to say if this will be a successful race or not. We will talk to fans and see what they say about it. We are very excited about it. It has been awhile since I have been excited about getting to a racetrack to try something new,”
When asked if this package could potentially be used in future races this season or in 2018, Auton stated, “Let’s concentrate on Indianapolis right now. This is a big test for us to. The results of that test in October showed it was the right way to go. We will be out in the garage listening to the drivers to see if we need to make any adjustments before tomorrow,” said Auton.
Ultimately, Auton hopes that it “is going to better than what we saw with three drivers at the test.”