Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Updated: June 16, 1:43 PM ET
Sources: NASCAR may add Indy races
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Officials at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NASCAR are in serious discussions about adding a Grand-Am Rolex Series race and possibly a Nationwide Series race to the 2012 Sprint Cup weekend at the Brickyard, multiple sources confirmed Wednesday.
The Nationwide race currently at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis would move to IMS on Saturday afternoon. A three-hour Grand-Am endurance race likely would run on Friday afternoon so as not to conflict with the Truck Series race held that night at Lucas Oil Raceway, which was known as O'Reilly Raceway Park until this year.
Doug Boles, the director of public relations at IMS, could not comment on a potential Nationwide move but acknowledged discussions to bring the Grand-Am event to the weekend for a road course race are taking place. He said the track needs more than one event to give fans more value for their ticket.
"We are the only event on the series schedule that has one event on a race weekend,'' Boles said. "Friday, the Cup cars have two hours on the track. All we get on Saturday is qualifying and the final practice. If you look at the entire on-track schedule, it's just not a lot of content.
"That's the biggest challenge, how do we add value to our fans?''
If the NASCAR schedule and IndyCar Series schedules around the Brickyard weekend stay the same in 2012, the IndyCar drivers would have an off weekend. Boles said the hope would be to attract some of them to the Grand-Am event and sell more tickets to a weekend that has struggled in past years.
A report last month said sales for the July 31 Cup race are lagging behind last year, which reportedly was 140,000, nearly half of the 270,000 that attended in 2007.
"If you're trying to figure out how to spend dollars in the summer, it helps make this event more attractive,'' Boles said. "You can camp and stay in one location and see two or three events.''
Boles reminded that when the Sprint Cup Series first came to Indianapolis Speedway in 1994, Michigan was the only track within a two- to five-hour drive in competition for ticket sales. Chicagoland was added to the schedule in 2001 and Kentucky Motor Speedway will be added this year.
He also reminded that the IROC series initially was held at IMS during the Cup weekend.
"The market is more competitive to the extent we have to offer fans more value, a lot more on-track activity,'' Boles said.
Officials at Lucas Oil Raceway said they have not been told that the Nationwide race will move to IMS next year, but added if that happened it would be a big blow.
"If that were to happen it would definitely make us re-strategize and refocus,'' Lucas Oil Raceway general manager Wes Collier said. "This track has been here for 50 years now. It would definitely be an impact, but we'd continue on.
"Right now we're planning on having two events here next year.''
Boles said he would like to see a decision made on what events will be at IMS by this year's Cup race so the track can begin selling tickets for next year.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.