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NASCAR Notes: No IMS Double In Cards

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 24 2010

Clint Bowyer heads through Gasoline Alley and into the garages at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Indianapolis – A Nationwide/Sprint Cup double-header at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the same weekend? Not in the cards. Not right now.

That according to officials at both NASCAR and the speedway.

NASCAR’s two top series do currently race in Indianapolis on the same weekend – this weekend, as a matter of fact – but not at the same place.

Saturday’s Nationwide race will be held at O’Reilly Raceway Park, a short track located just west of the city in the small suburb of Clermont.

Sunday’s Cup race, the Brickyard 400, will be at IMS. Some teams and drivers will travel back and forth between the two tracks for practices and qualifying sessions this weekend.

Some will employ helicopters to beat the traffic.

Fans will also move back and forth between the two historic venues.

Some have suggested that the Nationwide Series be brought to IMS for the weekend.

IMS vice president of communications Fred Nation said some thought has been given to petitioning NASCAR for a Nationwide date at the speedway.

“We have talked about it (internally),” Nation said. “There has been some conversation about it over the years but for now, the status remains the same.”

Nation also said IMS would not be wild about getting the date at ORP’s expense.

“We are sensitive to ORP’s situation,” Nation said.

Nation did say, however, that in these economic times, all tracks have to explore all options when it comes to their business plans.

He said that the Nationwide Series would “certainly be an appropriate series” for the speedway.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston also said that he does not expect to see an IMS double-header any time soon.

“I don’t think so,” Poston said if we might some day soon see and IMS double header. “We really, really enjoy running the Nationwide Series at ORP. It works for the track and it works for us.”

Of the commuting back and forth between the two tracks, Poston said, “It’s a small price to pay. We have two classic venues in the same city. There is something nice about racing at both venues in the same week.”

Practice leaders: Two practice sessions were held at Indy on Saturday.

The first pracrtice, held early in the afternoon, was an all Richard Childress Racing affair. RCR drivers Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick were first, second and third fastest respectively. Burton’s top lap came at 175.709 mph.

The second practice, held in the late afternoon, was led by Martin Truex Jr. of Michael Waltrip Racing. Truex had the day’s fastest lap – 175.627 mph.

Burton and Bowyer were next on the speed sheet while Ford driver Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway Racing was fourth.

Poking at Pocono: Kevin Harvick was the latest to take a shot at Pocono Raceway, site of next weekend’s Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.

Harvick said at least they got the right sponsor for next weekend’s race – The Red Cross.

Dangerous place, he said.

“I think you can look all the way around and you can see a lot of things that need to be fixed at that particular place,” Harvick said. “I don’t know why one particular race track has not had all of those safety upgrades that all the other race tracks have, but it’s the only race track that we go to with a dirt bank and an ARMCO barrier on the inside and no catch fences along some of the walls.  It is definitely the worst race track that we go to as far as SAFER barriers and catch fences and all the things that should be there.”

Unbelievable: Clint Bowyer was asked if when he was a kid growing up in Kansas, did he ever think he would be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

“Never in hell,” he said.

Plenty of seats available: NASCAR types used to brag that the Brickyard Cup race would outdraw the Indy 500. Those folks won’t be able to make that claim this year, it appears.

Fred Nation, vice president of communications for the speedway, said Friday that he expected attendance would be down from last year, when 180,000 was the crowd estimate.

This year’s Indy 500 attracted what many thought was the biggest crowd since the 1990s and that well over 250,000 people watched from the grandstands.

What is up with NASCAR attendance?

“I think that the race tracks saw a big boom in the mid 80’s and 90’s and started to build grandstands and built the tracks up so big that it’s not a full capacity right now,” said Kurt Busch. “There are still big grandstand packages that they’re putting together…over 100,000 fans at most of our events is something that really can’t be done at any at any other sport.”

Can NASCAR bounce back?

“It depends on a lot of different figures and numbers,” Busch said. “I think that there’s always cycles at any sport.  Whether it’s the economy, action on the track, or the way that the cars look, there’s always things to look at and improve on because we want to be sold out at every of our events.”

Three-timer: Jacques Villeneuve will start his first Brickyard 400 after squeezing into the field as the final driver to qualify on time.

He joins Juan Pablo Montoya as the only drivers to compete in all three of the major auto races held at IMS – the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard and the now-defunct Formula One race.

Villeneuve won the 1995 Indy 500.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 24 2010
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