NASCAR’s Potential Indianapolis Oval Return Moves 1 Step Closer

Getty Goodyear will hold a tire test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

NASCAR‘s drivers and fans have expressed a desire to go back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. This is not yet set, but Goodyear is taking an important step.

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, made the comments during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He explained that there were tire issues the last time that NASCAR brought a new car to the Indianapolis oval, and he said that Goodyear will hold a test later this year to prepare for a potential return.

“We’re going to go to Indy and run the oval,” Stucker said on July 12. “We just feel like there’s enough discussion around potentially going back to the oval in the future. Let’s go ahead and take the opportunity to get on that race track, the oval configuration, with the Next Gen car.”

Data Gathering Will Be Critical for Goodyear

GettyCup Series drivers make pit stops at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Why would Goodyear go hold a tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway if NASCAR hasn’t announced a return to the oval configuration? The reason is that Stucker and his team want to gather some crucial data.

There are several factors that could lead to a standout race at the 2.5-mile track. One of the biggest is how the track has aged since the 2020 season when Kevin Harvick won the final Cup Series race on the oval.

Another factor is the Next Gen car. NASCAR and Goodyear know how the new cars handle numerous tracks, but Indianapolis Motor Speedway remains a mystery.

Stucker indicated that it’s important to have multiple tests on that oval configuration before racing there, and he said that this test will help Goodyear establish a baseline. The tire manufacturer can then make necessary changes ahead of the return to the oval.

Conversations About the Oval Have Involved Roger Penske

GettyCup Series drivers race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Drivers and teams have taken part in numerous conversations about the oval versus the road course and the configuration they prefer. Roger Penske has also faced questions about the future of his track.

Back in July 2022, Penske met with media members at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Per Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic, he said that the road course would return for the 2023 season and that NASCAR was evaluating whether to switch to the oval configuration for 2024. Penske also mentioned the possibility of alternating between the road course and oval each year.

The first comment was accurate. The road course returned for the 2023 Cup Series season. This race will feature returning full-time drivers as well as guests in Andy Lally, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jenson Button.

Penske is not the only person that has addressed the future of the oval. IMS President Doug Boles spoke to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in January 2023 and acknowledged that conversations have taken place about this return.

“These conversations have happened, and in fact, they continue to happen,” Boles said. “And I think we’ve said — maybe not formally, but we’ve said in — and I may have said it with you guys at some point — we never said that we’re not going to go back on to the oval when we switched to the road course. We wanted to see how it worked. That’s why we started with Xfinity and then rolled it into Cup.”

Whether the oval returns for the 2024 season remains unknown. NASCAR has not provided any details about the upcoming schedule other than setting the date for the Daytona 500 and announcing that the championship weekend will return to Phoenix Raceway.

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