Of course NASCAR isn’t going to work with the IZOD Indycar officials to make it easier for drivers like their reigning champ Brad Keselowski to do the double, they’re not going to do anything to help Indycar, ever.
During a press conference leading up to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Chairman Brian France was asked if they thought about moving the start time to make it easier for NASCAR drivers to race at the Indy 500 and of course his answer was a businessman’s no. NASCAR is not going to do anything to Indycar do anything, and will do anything it can to hinder the rebirth of that sport.
NASCAR’s interference with Indycar goes back to before the split, if you believe in the rumored political intrigueo. Once, in the 1990s the France family supported Tony George and the IMS Board. The Brickyard 400 started out as a cash cow, which give George the money to invest in a new series, a series he could control, the IRL.
I realize a bit of that is speculation, but the France and George families had much a close, public relationship in the 1990s. They were co-investors in Chicagoland Speedway in 1996, which is the same year the IRL was formed. There has been rumors that the France family encouraged George to for the IRL and that by owning tracks and the series he could have the kind of control that France family has had over NASCAR.
Until the mid-90s teams had a significant amount of power over the speedway. In 1979, following a lengthy period of discontent, the team owners split with USAC, the sanctioning body at the time, to form CART. In the 80′s and 90′s the Indy 500 ratings were on par with the Superbowl and other major events, but the Hulman-George family only got a slice of that pie. By own the series, and several tracks, the George family would go from being track owners to series owners, and start seeing the revenue and power that the France family welds in NASCAR.
So, George branched out into part ownership of Chicagoland and Walt Disney Motor Speedway and formed the IRL, and launched a lengthy, bitter fight that lasted for a decade. I think the ramifications of the IRL went above and beyond anything the France family could have hoped for, and NASCAR established itself as the dominate form of motorsports in America.
Of course Brian France doesn’t want to make it easier for NASCAR drivers to drive in the Indy 500, how would NASCAR benefit from that? They’re not going to lift a finger to help Indycar, they’re not going to allow the Camping World Series or the Nationwide Series to race on the undercard for an Indycar race. They’re not going to move the start time of the Coke 600 and they’re not going to give Indycar a showcase race at Daytona, Michigan or anywhere else under their control. NASCAR has made a number of moves that seem to be targeted to hurt the Indycar series.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but why is it that the Nationwide Series keeps expanding to road courses that host open wheel events like Road America, Mexico City and Montreal? Did NASCAR go to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve because it wanted to expand into Canada, or because they wanted to keep it away from Indycar? My bet is a bit of both. Circuit Villeneuve is limited to a small number of racing weekends a year, and one of them is taken by Formula One. A stop at Montreal could be a successful date for Indycar, and having the Nationwide Series sit on one of those dates kept it away from open wheel.
The Nationwide series races twice at Iowa Speedway. Iowa is the only track on the Nationwide schedule where the series races twice at that doesn’t host a Sprint Cup date. Iowa has been a successful Indycar event, was the second date part of an effort to hurt the Indycar race?
Another thing that concerns me is how much of a stake will NASCAR have the new Unified Sports Car Series. The merger of the ALMS with the NASCAR owned Grand-Am series could be another effort to hurt Indycar. The new series will be competing for television time, and it could take away a support series from Indycar weekends.
So yeah, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I can answer any future questions on the subject from Mr. France. If asked if they would do anything to help Indycar the answer is, “no.”