NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced on Wednesday that the NASCAR Xfinity Series would race on the road course at IMS in 2020. On one end it was an admission of failure by both parties, the Xfinity Series should never have raced on the oval at Indianapolis. On the other end, it’s exciting to see both parties take a chance on this.
NASCAR’s product on the oval at IMS has been downright atrocious the past decade at the speedway. On the flip side, the product NASCAR puts on with road course races has been nothing short of phenomenal. Conveniently Indianapolis has a road course in the infield so the two sides got their brain trusts together and agreed to put on a road course race July 4, 2020, a day before the Brickyard 400 on the oval.
Matt DiBenedetto will test at the speedway on January 22nd to help determine runoff areas and what layout will work best for NASCAR. Indianapolis has three possible layouts, so which one will work the best.
Formula 1 Layout
The F1 layout is far above the rest as the best possible layout for NASCAR. Noah Gragson ran this layout on iRacing Wednesday night and overall it looked great. A great braking zone into road course turn 1. A tight twisty section from turn 2 to turn 7 like a Mid-Ohio minus the elevation changes. Another great braking zone at the end of the Hulman Straight (is it still called that?) into turn 8 and then flat out from the exit of turn 11 to the turn 1 braking zone.
Indianapolis Grand Prix Layout
The Indy GP layout is perfect for Indycar. The chicane out of turn 4 is a quick left right that leads into the braking zone at the end of the Hulman Straight. In an effort to keep the speeds down at the end of the front stretch a chicane complex was added. It works well for IndyCar but would be excruciatingly slow for NASCAR. It’s the same reason corners were cut out of the Roval, sometimes sections are just too slow.
The Moto GP layout is the only layout that incorporates every section of the road course. The old F1 corners are used along with the oval turn 1 complex. The difference with Moto GP than the other two is the counterclockwise direction. NASCAR will almost definitely run the circuit clockwise like IndyCar. Incorporating the full layout is also something NASCAR will almost certainly not do. The lap time would be too slow and passing opportunities would be less.
Hopefully on the 22nd Matt D runs the F1 layout, loves it and NASCAR gives it the stamp of approval. It also requires the least amount of setup work. Clearing the cones, and run off area in NASCAR turn 4, as well as securing the wall in NASCAR turn 2 along with swapping out pit exit for the oval are the major items that need to be done.
We’ll know more on the 22nd after the Matt D. test.