It was long. There were wrecks. The best car didn’t win. But in my opinion, it was awesome.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Bureau Insurance Chevy SS, won the 24th Running of the Brickyard 400 last night. I say “night”, because that’s when the race got over. The race, thanks to a late start time, a brief rain storm, and two red flags because of bad accidents, didn’t get over until almost 9 o’clock. The race from start to finish was about 6 hours, maybe a little more.
True, it was grueling, especially for those that stayed throughout the entirety of the event. Multiple times I thought about leaving, but something kept me there. Whether it was Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr wrecking out on Lap 111, or the intrigue after the first red flag to see who would win after the two best cars had been removed from the race. Whatever the reason, every time that I considered leaving the event early, I couldn’t.
Depending on who you ask today, you might here a completely different response to how yesterday’s race was. Some so that it was the worst Brickyard ever. Way too long, and way too many cautions. Others, like me, think that it was one of the, if not the, best Brickyards ever.
Most Indianapolis media members don’t seem to have a grasp on what makes NASCAR fans happy. They think wrecks ruin everything, and NASCAR failed on Sunday. However, judging just by my timelines on both Twitter and Facebook, the opposite is true. Fans couldn’t get enough. I’ll never forget just how excited everyone that was in attendance yesterday got when Jimmie Johnson went for the lead going into Turn 3 three-wide. Three-wide isn’t supposed to happen in stock cars at Indianapolis. It just doesn’t happen, and yet that’s what we saw yesterday. We saw drivers putting it all on the line at the end of the race, just so that they could say that they won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The drivers cared, and so did A LOT of the fans. Bottom line: The race that we all witnessed yesterday will not be forgotten for years.
Speaking of next year, that brings me to thoughts on Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250. You want to talk about a race that was amazing? That race was it. You had side-by-side racing in the turns. You had passes on the outside. You had close nose-to-tail racing throughout the field. NASCAR finally found an aero package to bring to Indy that worked. With the higher downforce, added with a restrictor plate, that race was the greatest race that I’ve ever seen at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, from stock cars. Sure, the speeds were drastically slower than in years prior, but who cares? If you want to watch cars go fast, go to your local drag strip.
According to NASCAR, the goal was to test the package on the Xfinity car this year, and potentially implement the changes to the Cup series in 2018. I have no doubt that NASCAR will do just that. Despite the ending of the Brickyard being exciting, I venture to say that it would not have been, had Busch and Truex Jr not wrecked out.
Now, with the 24th Brickyard in the rearview mirror, preparations for the 25th must begin. The 2018 Brickyard will be on an all-new date, on September 9th. In an attempt to bring fans back out to the track, not only should the weather be cooler, but the race will now be the final race before NASCAR’s version of the Playoffs(the Chase) starts. Couple all that with potentially the closest racing that we have ever seen in a Brickyard 400, and 2018 has a lot to get excited about.
The race last night wasn’t perfect, but it was great. It will be remembered. It got people talking about NASCAR in Indianapolis again. That’s the first step to rebuilding the legacy of one of NASCAR’s marquee events, and builds hope for the return of fans to the track.
It’s the greatest race course in the world. NASCAR has its place there. Job well done.