Brickyard puts new spin on July NASCAR-USAC race week

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is expecting fireworks to come early on the 4th of July as the NASCAR Xfinity Series transitions from the oval to the road course at the famed Brickyard at 16th & Georgetown.

The Speedway announced Wednesday that Pennzoil will sponsor the newly minted event on the 2.439-mile Grand Prix Circuit course. The NXS race will be bookended by the USAC National Midgets Driven2SaveLives BC39 at The Dirt Track at IMS on July 1-2 and the NASCAR Cup Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on July 5. 

Under the new ownership group led by Roger Penske, IMS will incorporate all three racing layouts for the tripleheader.

"The Brickyard weekend has been a cornerstone of the IMS schedule since its debut in 1994, and we're committed to the continued growth and revitalization of the event with its move from early September to Fourth of July weekend," Roger Penske said. 

"Our partners at NASCAR, NBC, Big Machine and Pennzoil share our passion for this great event, and we will work alongside them and others to deliver world-class racing and entertainment for our fans during a celebration of America."

The Xfinity Series moved to the Brickyard in 2012 as a companion event with Cup. Justin Allgaier, who won the 2018 race and finished second to Kyle Busch last year, said that, while he would like a little redemption on the oval, he is looking forward to the new challenge.

“This opportunity for this weekend is really, really exciting to me and I feel like for all the competitors and all the teams,” Allgaier said. “The switch to July 4th weekend, to switch to the road course which I feel fits our cars really well…seeing what some of the options are, I believe in my mind there are going to be some great passing zones and the ability to put on a great race.

“Not that the oval race wasn't good, but as we’re evolving in this sport, the fans, and as Roger mentioned, the fan experience is the most important part. To come into a weekend where you have that split—you’ve got the road course on Saturday and an oval on Sunday—I’m excited for that. To be able to come here and be a part of this event, I think all of the Xfinity drivers are looking forward to this weekend. We’re all excited to be a part of the first NASCAR road course race  at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and we’re all going to want to win that first race.”

Matt DiBenedetto is scheduled to test the IMS road course in an Xfinity car next Wednesday. The 2.439-mile layout first debuted in 2014 for IndyCar and IndyLights. Prior to that, Rolex Grand-Am cars ran the course at 2.534-miles. The inaugural road course race featured Formula 1 in 2000 and required a complete renovation of the infield. F1 raced for eight seasons on the 4.192-mile course.

"As we've seen in recent years, road course racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series provides some of the most thrilling action of the entire season, and we are excited to bring it to an iconic venue like Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations and International Development. 

"Roger, Doug and the entire IMS team have been tremendous partners in growing the Brickyard weekend, and we're looking forward to what promises to be a must-see event during July 4th weekend."

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