Friday, July 25, 2014

The NASCAR Invasion: Five Questions for Indianapolis

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Yeah, yeah, quit your groaning. You know you missed me and, more importantly, Five Questions. I was on a three-week vacation, while the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series took an off-weekend of its own. Now that everyone is recharged, it’s time to dive straight into one of the most historic weekends: the Brickyard 400.

Who’s the better champion, Keselowski or Johnson? In the middle of this week, Brad Keselowski was a traveling man. He was at ESPN headquarters and appeared on many shows, then flew to Eldora Speedway for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. While in Bristol, Connecticut, he guest-hosted the Marty and McGee podcast with Marty Smith. The two were discussing his role as an ambassador of NASCAR and what it entailed. The 2012 champion revealed that all his appearances that day were on his own accord, no monetary compensation whatsoever. Naturally, this made me wonder if Jimmie Johnson was lacking as a champion or if Keselowski was better at holding the title. Simply put, the drivers are polar opposites yet serve the same purpose: representing the sport in unique ways. Johnson is the prim and proper side of the sport. He’s the marathon runner, philanthropist, buddy to many celebrities. However, Keselowski is the personification of “rough around the edges”. He’s outspoken and real, coming off as relatable to fans. They both do a great job at giving the sport a face, and that’s what matters to me. Tell us your thoughts below.

Will Eldora’s success push for Cup alterations? Wednesday night gave us Trucks on dirt, a new staple for the NCWTS. After the festivities calmed down, I came to a realization: the All-Star Race should be at Eldora. This was soon altered after some Twitter discussion; the All-Star Race should definitely be on dirt. Eldora is now the Daytona 500 for the Truck series, and that shouldn’t be overwhelmed. Instead, the All-Star Race stays in Charlotte, but it’s ran at The Dirt Track. They’ve changed everything else with the race’s format, so why not?

What will we see from the tires? Goodyear is bringing tires from Dover to The Brickyard, and this is quite concerning. If I remember correctly, these tires didn’t do well, and Dover’s track surface is nothing like Indy’s. This makes me slightly nervous.

Can a surprise winner survive Indy? If you listen to the media’s predictions, many are thinking Johnson or Gordon will take the checkered flag Sunday afternoon. Those are the old standbys. I’m taking a different route and going with Matt Kenseth to kiss the bricks. He’s due to get his win, since he’s been on the brink. Another group to watch is the Penske Posse. Both Keselowski and Joey Logano have been stout this year, and there’s nothing that can slow them down. As long as Kez doesn’t lick the infamous bricks, things will be fine.

Does The Brickyard still hold prestige? It’s been a crown jewel race since its inaugural event in 1994. The venue is as historic as a track can be, an IndyCar playground before the NASCAR invasion. Though it is always a notable stop, is it gathering dust? Fans have mixed emotions about The Brickyard, but I stand by it for one solid reason: to keep it alive. If the younger generation only looked at the excitement of the racing, Indianapolis would be a distant memory. I hold the track dear because it signifies NASCAR’s expansion into the unknown, a quality that’s hard to come by these days. The Brickyard is prestigious for me, and it should be prestigious for you, too.

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