INDIANAPOLIS – For drivers, today’s first-ever NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway represents a chance to run on perhaps the most famous track in racing.
It is also one of the tougher tests they will face all season.
The historic 2.5-mile oval has hosted NASCAR’s top-level series, now known as Sprint Cup, since 1994 but didn’t add the second-tier Nationwide Series until this year. For many drivers in the field, it will be their first time racing at Indy – and they are in for a challenge.
“This place is not forgiving at all,” Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler said. “It’s fast, the corners are sharp. You’ve got to be on your money, I think, to run some fast laps here.”
Sadler raced at Indianapolis 12 times in Cup, including a third-place finish in 2004 and a fourth-place finish in 2008.
He said the track’s combination of long, high-speed straightaways and sharp, unbanked turns make it one of the toughest to master.
“Banking makes us drivers look good, because it makes it more forgiving,” Sadler said. “The banking can catch you if you’re tight or if you’re loose and you can move around on the track. Here, you’ve got to run the bottom, it’s very flat so if you overdrive the corner, the car takes off on you, there’s no banking to catch you.
“It’s a very tough, hard, momentum place to race at, and it’s going to take these guys a race or two to understand what they need, especially when you’re (in) traffic with 42 other cars around you.”