NASCAR at home at Indy?

June 17, 1992|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

The Indianapolis 500 is over and Indy cars have moved on, but there will be cars streaking down the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Monday -- Winston Cup stock cars.

It is being billed as a "Goodyear tire test", but no one associated with the sport believes that is all it is.

It could be the first step toward running a NASCAR race at the 83-year-old track that is used for only one race a year -- the Indy 500.

Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Davey Allison and Rusty Wallace are among the 11 teams invited to participate at the 2.5-mile oval. The test is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

For years there has been talk within NASCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., about the Winston Cup circuit racing at Indianapolis. But next week's test is the first public sign that serious consideration is being given to the project.

Can stock cars race safely at Indy? Instead of the high, banked turns of a NASCAR track, Indy has flat, sharp turns and longer straight-aways -- five-eighths of a mile -- that enable the cars to build up more speed. Indy cars go 230 mph and have what is called "ground effects," an aerodynamic design that holds the cars on the track.

The Winston Cup cars, expected to run about 175 mph, are bigger and heavier. The stock cars already run a spoiler -- a strip of metal that helps redirect the air over the car -- to create some down force. Will it be enough to keep them on the track? Some answers should come next week.

One step to increase safety has begun. The low walls built to circle the famed racetrack in the 1930s will be replaced with new ones -- 39inches high and built of steel-reinforced concrete. Those walls will meet both NASCAR and international racing standards.

Since Tony George became IMS president in the late 1980s, he has tried to make the track operation more productive. The month of May is the only time the track is used for racing. The rest of the year the track is open for public tours. There are also some tire tests conducted, but most of the time the grandstands, which seat approximately 300,000, are empty.

There is speculation that NASCAR would like to add an event at Indy for the 1993 or 1994 season.

George is said to be looking at an August date, which would give his staff time to recover from the Memorial Day Indianapolis 500.

Invited to test at Indianapolis

)Driver. .. . ........... .Make

Dale Earnhardt. . ........ Chevrolet

Davey Allison. . ....... . Ford

Bill Elliott. ..... ...... Ford

Ernie Irvan. . ........... Chevrolet

Ricky Rudd. ... .......... Chevrolet

Mark Martin. ............. Ford

Darrell Waltrip. ......... Chevrolet

Rusty Wallace. . . . ..... Pontiac

Kyle Petty. .............. Pontiac

Derrike Cope. ............ Chevrolet

Richard Petty. ........... Pontiac

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