If you like racing then this Independence Day weekend should be just your thing as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway plays host to multiple firsts in the world of motorsports. It will indeed be a busy time for the first racing event at the historic track since Roger Penske assumed ownership of the hallowed property.
Among the firsts to be taking place will be that IMS will, for the first time, be hosting the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series on this mid-summer holiday weekend. NASCAR has traditionally raced at the Daytona International Speedway around this time of year but schedule changes were made for this season in order to move this race into what is hoped will be a date better suited for attendance and also to make DIS a bigger part of the NASCAR Playoffs picture.
Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has put the attendance experiment on hold for now as no fans will be in attendance at the facility that can seats hundreds of thousands when filled to capacity.
Also for the first time, two NASCAR divisions will be racing at the same location but on two completely different tracks. The Cup Series will compete on the traditional oval course that also serves as the circuit for the famed Indianapolis 500 while the Xfinity Series racers will test their skills on the IMS road course that incorporates some of the oval track along with an infield course that was originally put to use when Formula 1 used the facility as the site of the United States Grand Prix.
Oddly, this will almost certainly be the first time two different NASCAR divisions have raced at the same venue going in two different directions due to the fact the Cup Series will race counter-clockwise around the oval and the Xfinity cars will travel clockwise on the road course.
And perhaps the biggest first for IMS this weekend will be the fact that this is the first time NASCAR and IndyCar have joined forces on the same weekend at the same track with IndyCar also racing on the IMS road course.
While the NASCAR Cup Series will race alone on Sunday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will share Saturday with the NTT IndyCar Series at the legendary venue. This double-header between the two racing organizations was brought about as part of the hasty rescheduling both have had to do in the battle to get races in during the COVID-19 pandemic and the differing shutdown regulations from state to state.
Could this lead to more of these sorts of cross pollination between the two former rival racing organizations?
As someone who watches a great deal of racing both in person and on television, I have had to make choices regarding which forms of motorsports I want to pay closest attention to. With covering Dirt Late Model racing being my primary concern for our InsideDirtRacing.com website and NASCAR along with some pavement based short track racing making up most of the content for this site, IndyCar has largely been put on the shelf.
It’s not that I don’t like it as much as I simply don’t have very much time to dedicate to it with the Indianapolis 500 being the only race on that tour I focus on throughout most “ordinary” years. Of course, this year is far from ordinary which has brought us to this point.
So, will there be some, like me, who might suddenly start paying more attention to IndyCar because of this weekend’s co-sanctioned event? Will there be some who focus primarily on the open-wheeled cars who might start looking toward the NASCAR ranks more often?
If there was ever going to be a time and a place to try this sort of thing, this is it. I, for one, am intrigued so let’s see how this goes.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
Respond to this piece on Twitter –> @RichardAllenIDR
or on Facebook –> InsideCircleTrack/Facebook