Trackside Talks: Back to the Brickyard

There are three NASCAR races on deck for July; all ones to look forward to for different reasons. Early July kicks off with the second annual Chicago Street Race. Last year, even with unheard of monsoon rains for that time of year which led to a delayed start and the race being cut short, it still turned out to meet the hype and gave us a very exciting finish with New Zealander, Shane van Gisbergen taking the checkered flag at his NASCAR debut! Then in mid July, it’s on to Pocono Raceway (AKA The Tricky Triangle), a super speedway in Long Pond, PA. But, perhaps the race I am looking forward to the most is the Brickyard 400 held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the self-proclaimed Racing Capital of the World.

A little background – IMS was constructed in 1909 and has hosted the highly anticipated Indy 500 since 1911. It wasn’t until 1994 that NASCAR joined the party and held the inaugural Brickyard 400, making it the first race, other than the Indy 500, to race there since 1916. The track used to be made up of more than three million hand-laid bricks, hence the nickname “Brickyard.” A one-yard strip at the start/finish line is the only part of the track with brick still intentionally exposed. For years, the Brickyard 400 was one of the most attended NASCAR races, until around 2008, when attendance began to decline for a handful of reasons. In 2021, NASCAR decided to nix the Brickyard 400 and, instead, the drivers raced the IMS Road Course in hopes the cars would race better and attendance would improve. The general consensus since then, from past and current drivers, fans and those who work in the industry, has been a desire to return to the oval…and back to the oval we go in 2024! What better time than the 30-year anniversary of NASCAR’s first race at IMS?

Dillon Welch, pit reporter for NASCAR/IndyCar on NBC, was gracious enough to answer a few questions for me. When asked what the significance of NASCAR’s return to the oval for the Brickyard 400 is, he stated, “Indy has always been about the oval track. Drivers want to win on the oval because that’s why the track is famous. There is no other track like it in the world.”

Being an Indiana native and avid race fan, Welch shared he is “super excited” about being back on the oval. He said he “appreciated the willingness to try the road course” and “it was fun,” but thinks that “a few years off [from the oval] makes it that much more exciting.”

When asked what he anticipates attendance will be like this year, considering that was a large factor in moving away from the oval in 2021, he shared, “Hard to say for sure, but I hope fans respond well. They have been lobbying for the return to the oval for years, so hopefully, they appreciate the track and NASCAR’s response.” 

Welch loves the vantage point of working a race from the pits stating, “I enjoy being down on the grid during the pre-race traditions, I love watching and feeling the emotion build to the start of the race. And, then you can experience all the smells, sounds and sights of the start of the race from the ground level. Hard to beat.”

Of course I had to get his opinion on who he thinks has the best chance to kiss the bricks (a long-standing tradition of race winners) this year, and he guessed Kyle Larson reasoning, “He has more laps there lately than the others in the field.” Kyle Larson attempted the double over Memorial Day weekend, which is when a driver attempts to race both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, NC on the same day. Due to rain delays in both locations, Larson was unable to complete his attempt. Hopefully, he gets another chance in the future!

If you’re a NASCAR fan, the Brickyard 400 is definitely a race to attend at some point, if you haven’t already. I know I can hardly wait to check that one off the list! 

If you aren’t planning to be there in person, make sure you tune in on Sunday, July 21st at 2:30 p.m. to see who will take home the checkered flag at IMS, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel tracks. You won’t want to miss it!

Full throttle,



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