News & Multimedia

No. 10: Cup Series Moving to IMS Road Course in 2021

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of 10 vignettes in which IMS Senior Communications Manager Paul Kelly picks his top 10 moments of 2020 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was one of the more interesting “What if?” questions about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in recent years. What if the annual NASCAR Cup Series race at the Brickyard moved from the oval to the road course?

That question was heard more often after the NASCAR Xfinity Series moved from the 2.5-mile oval to the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course for the first time in July, and Indiana native Chase Briscoe earned a popular victory in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on the Fourth of July after a wild late-race battle with fellow Hoosier Justin Haley, AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric. Haley ended up second, the first time Indiana natives finished 1-2 in a NASCAR race at IMS.

Well, enough of that question. We’re getting an answer in 2021.

After a historic, 27-year run on the IMS oval, the stars of the Cup Series also will hit the road at IMS for the first time Sunday, Aug. 15. It’s an exciting new chapter for NASCAR at the Racing Capital in the World, promising to deliver even more action.

The appeal of NASCAR road racing at IMS is simple. The IMS road course is a fast, flowing layout with heavy braking zones at the end of the front and rear straightaways. That creates a fascinating contest of bravery and skill, as late-brakers can gain positions but also risk mistakes, which lead to even more passing.

There already was much to anticipate for this race weekend at IMS before the move to the road course was announced. It will be the second consecutive year of a NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader on the same weekend at IMS, as the debut of this format was a rousing success on Fourth of July weekend this year.

Plus this hopefully will be the first time NASCAR fans can see all of the incredible improvements to fan amenities at IMS since Roger Penske completed the purchase of the facility in January 2020. This year’s Brickyard-INDYCAR weekend took place with no spectators due to health restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, add unpredictable, rubbin’-is-racin’ Cup Series road racing to that already enticing mix? It’s time for NASCAR fans to start counting the days to mid-August, if they haven’t already.

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