Some thoughts on Sunday's Brickyard 400 from former Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Charlotte Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler:
Sunday's pitiful crowd at Indy was a sore reminder that something is indeed wrong. Pocono, which is just a weird version of Indy, this Sunday will be similar except the crowd will look bigger since they only have 60,000 seats compared to Indy's 250,000.
What is it?
First, the economy is still lousy particularly for those working class people that made NASCAR what it is. I also think we have 'corporatized' the sport terribly and I blame the sponsors and some tracks for this. It has gotten too fancy and we need to get back to our roots.
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However, I believe a lot of this can be blamed on the much maligned aero push that enables the lead car on all tracks except Daytona and Talledega to simply take off and then you have a lead of 600 feet and that completely eliminates back and forth racing for the lead. The back-and-forth lead change is probably the second most exciting thing in racing (outside of the wreck) and we simply don't have that. Without it you have few if any rivalries and those intense rivalries sell more tickets than anything.
I know that NASCAR is not only totally aware of this aero push dilemma and but their R&D department is working overtime to find the answer to this mystery. Will they? Of course, but it needs to be done with the speed of sound!
If not, we will be running these races with "studio" crowds just for the sake of TV.