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Nationwide heads to Indianapolis in 2012

The Nationwide Series has announced that it is heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time during next year's season.
The Nationwide Series will be racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time in 2012, after organisers confirmed a switch away from Lucas Oil Raceway also located in the city of Indianapolis.

The Nationwide race will form part of IMS's race weekend at the end of July focused around the Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 race, one of the top events of the Cup season.

"This is a very important announcement for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Jeff Belskus, the CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "It's going to make for just a really exciting weekend. We're going to triple our hours of track activity here. That will be good for the fans. It will be good for the sponsors.

"We're billing it as a Super Weekend in motorsports. To come here and see all the different types of competition, whether it be on the road course or on the oval, it will be great for our fans, it will be good for the sponsors. It's going to be a fun weekend."

The Nationwide race will be held on the 2.5-mile Speedway on Saturday July 28, with Grand-Am (also owned by NASCAR) featured on the Friday running on the old F1 road course, and the Cup race itself on the oval on Sunday.

NASCAR and IMS management are hoping that the switch will arrest declining attendance at the Brickyard 400. Crowd numbers have dipped sharply in recent years, and problems with tyre wear on the Speedway have been a major issue in the decline as they led to multiple cautions. Tyre failures were so bad in the Cup race in 2008 that it was almost reminiscent of the F1 debacle that saw only six cars complete in the 2005 Indianapolis Grand Prix after Michelin suffered a string of major failures and was unable to certify the safety of their tyres to the teams. The event contributed heavily to the subsequent withdrawal of both F1 from Indianapolis and of Michelin from F1.

That's ancient history now, and everyone is hoping that the new line-up of races for 2012 will reverse the decline and see bigger crowds at IMS, which has capacity for 200,000 spectators.

"It's great. I think it will help everyone," said AJ Foyt, four-time Indy 500 winner. "For all of the drivers who have never had the chance to compete at the Speedway, whether they're in the sports cars or stock cars, I think they will be thrilled to death.

"I wish I was younger because I would have enjoyed running the road course there myself," he added. "I might even show up to watch it - I've been fortunate enough to see all of the inaugural events run at the Speedway since the Brickyard 400 in 1994. If there's a way to make it, I will."




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