Why the Brickyard 400 Could be Just as Boring as Last Year’s Race
by Avery Hage On Tue, Jul. 22, 2014
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most coveted race tracks in the world. It has been the host of one of NASCAR’s most prestigious events since 1994. While some great NASCAR races have been held there, many fans, including myself, were frustrated by last year’s “yawn-fest” of a race.
I am usually quite lenient on the dullness of races and I try to find some exciting aspect to it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any redeeming entertainment value to last year’s Brickyard 400. Sure, there’s prestige for the winner and there’s the mystique of The Brickyard history. However, does that mean the fans were truly entertained? No it doesn’t.
According to Racing Reference, the race had 20 lead changes which sounds great, except for one major issue; the race truly didn’t have 20 lead changes. In fact, I believe there were no legitimate lead changes at all. In other words, all of the lead changes came during green flag pit stops. And it wasn’t even lead changes that were scarce; passing in general looked to be almost impossible.
I’d love to tell you that that type of racing at The Brickyard won’t be seen this year, but I don’t see that happening. As you may have noticed, the new-and-improved Generation 6 car is faster than ever, and it wouldn’t surprise too many people if the track record at Indianapolis is broken again.
Track records are great, but that increase in speed can lead to difficulties in passing, which is why I believe we will see a repeat of 2013. In fact, it would come as no surprise if we saw another Hendrick versus Stewart-Haas battle, only this time it would be either Jeff Gordon versus Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson versus Harvick. It’s quite possible that Brad Keselowski could do very well there. But I believe Hendrick horsepower will shine.
Beyond the simple fact that the higher speed, the less passing, the track is a general flat track, therefore lending itself to be a one groove surface. As a result, follow the leader racing becomes a common practice due to no second groove to work its way in. The single-groove syndrome is why other tracks, including Phoenix International Raceway, have switched to a progressive banking to therefore offer options across the track.
NASCAR has tried to improve things with taking away the minimum ride height rule; however that hasn’t changed the racing that much, just added a bonus for the teams. It may be why there will be teams struggling who haven’t in the past, but it won’t help the actual racing product at the end of the day.
So with that said my advice to you if you’re watching the race is to stock up on energy drinks so you can stay awake during what could be a terribly boring race. Here’s to hoping I’m dead wrong.