Throughout the last 27 years, the Brickyard 400 has been considered one of the most prestigious motor races. The rapid NASCAR boom of the 90s had led to the arrival of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval Cup Series, joining the Indianapolis 500. Only these two events ruled the racing capital of the world. But by time, the NASCAR Cup drivers have lost their thrill for the Indianapolis Road Course Race. A serious technical fault has acted as a driving factor behind this decaying popularity.
For over a decade, the Brickyard 400 had witnessed the largest viewer attendance in NASCAR, occasionally including the largest hike in the Cup Series also. The ill-fated 2008 running at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was marred by numerous tire failures. Both NASCAR and the Goodyear tires failed to predict the tire loads beforehand at the Indianapolis Speedway. As a result, eventually, race control was forced to competition cautions every 10-12 laps or an average of just 9 green flag laps per run. The Brickyard 400 never fully recovered from the debacle.
The Current Scenario
During that time, over 200,000 fans attended the race, but the controversy led by the series of tire faults actually marked the start of the current decade-long declining popularity. Recent races were attended by only fewer than 50,000 viewers, seriously damaging the entertainment value of the sport. Roger Penske has purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2019. He immediately has charted a new course for 2021, making a bold decision of contesting the Cup Series event on his infield road course. The decision was aided by a thrilling NASCAR Xfinity Series race, which took place last season on the newly set road course as a kind of test run.
While 2013 Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman are okay with the race, Cup driver Denny Hamlin doesn’t at all consider the transition having the similar challenge and aura of the Brickyard 400. Though personally preferring big track over the road course, Newman feels every race at the Speedway is somehow special. On contrary, for Hamlin, the road course has taken away a ‘crown jewel’, which can’t be replaced.