Just Sayin’: Indianapolis Is No Longer a Crown Jewel


NASCAR Has Lost Its Shine At Indianapolis

There was a time when the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was considered one of NASCAR’s “crown-jewel” events. One would now be hard-pressed to make a case for this, however. How can Indy be a crown jewel when the empty seats at the track far outnumber the seats that are filled? If you watched Sunday’s race, it was impossible to overlook how egregiously uninhabited whole sections of the grandstands were at the fabled 2.5-mile speedway. Hard to believe there was hardly an empty seat in the house when NASCAR first visited Indy in 1994 – and that NASCAR continued to attract huge crowds here for many years thereafter. But ever since NASCAR’s so-called “tire debacle” at Indianapolis in 2008, attendance at the Brickyard 400 has fallen off dramatically. Races like Sunday’s snoozer – in which one driver, Kyle Busch, literally ran off and left the field in the dust – won’t do anything to help the Brickyard 400 return to its glory days when NASCAR was one of the hottest tickets in town.

Stewart, Gordon Finished Final Brickyard 400 In Style

By far the coolest moment of Sunday’s race at Indianapolis came on the cool-down lap after the checkered had waved. Two legends of the track and the sport – Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart – drove side-by-side around the history-laden 2.5-mile layout to mark what will almost certainly be the final Brickyard 400 for both men. Gordon, of course, is an Indiana transplant, having spent his teenage years in nearby Pittsboro after his family relocated from California. Stewart, who hails from Columbus, Indiana, is a Hoosier born and bred. While Sunday was supposed to Stewart’s moment in the spotlight, the two-time Brickyard 400 winner –  who is retiring at season’s end – was more than happy to share the fanfare with Gordon, a five-time Brickyard winner who came out of retirement to drive the No. 88 car in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr.