Penske Moves IMS' NASCAR Xfinity Race From Oval To Road Course
Roger Penske has made his first big move since purchasing Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar by moving this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race that is part of Brickyard 400 weekend from the oval to the road course. The race will be newly sponsored by Pennzoil, which is owned by longtime Team Penske partner Shell, marking an example of how Penske is going to leverage his business empire to help land new deals for IMS, as well as IndyCar. Penske bought the assets, along with the IMS Productions media agency, for around $300-350M in a deal that closed earlier this month. Penske unveiled the changes today alongside IMS President Doug Boles, NASCAR Managing Dir of Racing Operations & Int'l Development Ben Kennedy and Shell VP & GM of North American Marketing Patty Lanning. NASCAR and IMS have been looking for ways to re-energize the struggling Brickyard 400 weekend, which once brought in six-figure crowds for the NASCAR Cup Series race but has seen a steep drop-off in recent years. Penske in today’s press conference indicated that he felt the switch to the road course could help that be accomplished. This will be the first time NASCAR races on IMS' road course, which IndyCar already races on annually for the IndyCar Grand Prix in May.
AS SEEN ON TV: NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said the net "loved the idea" of moving to the road course. Flood said, "We are going to be all-in. We talked through the logistics of switching the coverage from a road course to an oval. We realized that if they can switch the tracks around, we can certainly move cameras around to make it special … we’re going to make this one huge."