SALINAS, Calif – The topic has always been around, but until this year, the realistic expectations of a single venue hosing not only a NASCAR race, but an IndyCar race on the same race track on the same weekend weren’t very high.
Back in May, the talks began to heat up. It sounded as if both sides were open to it.
See, both NASCAR and IndyCar share a TV Network in NBC Sports. All 17 IndyCar races air on either NBC or NBCSN. For NASCAR, the final 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races are on the same network.
On top of that, both racing series’ share three tracks – Indianapolis, Texas and now Richmond. The series also recently raced at Pocono and has in the past ran at Kansas, Chicagoland, Kentucky and Homestead.
The problem in the past was, NASCAR didn’t need IndyCar to share a weekend with them. IndyCar’s numbers were dipping lower and lower while NASCAR was still the big brother in terms of attendance and ratings.
Now, NASCAR has dropped drastically over the past decade while IndyCar has risen and still doing so. NASCAR has stopped the hemorrhaging and has appeared to even out while IndyCar’s rise has slowed in terms of numbers but still going up.
In a day and age where everyone just needs to work together, the new deal for IndyCar with NBC Sports could be the very thing that needs to spearhead this relationship further.
“We’re all very open to it,” IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said on Friday regarding a doubleheader weekend with NASCAR. “That shouldn’t be misunderstood. It was said that there was momentum in May. In my view there was more discussion in May, more talk about it, more smoke than fire. So I think the folks at NASCAR know that we think it’s a good idea. I think as far as I can tell, they think it’s a good idea.
“Jay (Frye) is more in touch with them regularly than I am. So we’ll see if it can be pulled together. I don’t see it before 2022, and exactly when, I don’t know. But it’s something that we think — if it gets more people watching motorsports, it’s well worth working on.”
Miles went on to say though that pinning down a weekend to do so is the main challenge now.
“It’s complicated in the fact that you’ve asked in terms of ’22, ’23, indicates that you understand that just to get the schedules together to be in the same place is going to take that kind of time,” Miles continued. “It is complicated. We have to get the schedules together. From our perspective, at least my perspective, I think it might be easier to do that where we already race as opposed to adding a race, another stop on our schedule. I don’t know whether that’s the same sense that NASCAR would have. There’s the schedule, then there’s all the rest of it. It would be a lot easier if it was in the second half of the year from the perspective of these folks to my right (NBC Sports).
“You’ve got to make sure that the sponsorships work and there aren’t those kinds of conflicts and a lot of commercial things.
“But look, if it gets more people watching motorsport, then we think it’s worth spending some time working on.”
So, if he thinks that it’s more realistic to think by using an existing track on both schedules, it’s down to Indy, Texas and Richmond. We can eliminate the Indy idea as there’s no way the Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 would share a weekend.
Texas is run for IndyCar in June, a time when NASCAR is on Fox Sports. NASCAR does go back to Texas in the Fall on NBC Sports, but it’s not until November, a solid month in-a-half following the end of the IndyCar season.
Richmond would make a ton of sense with them having a NASCAR date in September, but IndyCar returns to the Virginia oval at the end of June 2020. But, that race could also move to a NASCAR date in the late summer/early fall too.