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Dustin Off the Next Race: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

This week, Major League Baseball served up what possibly could be the most perfect baseball game one could ever witness, or experience.  It truly was an absolute iconic “Field of Dreams” in a ballfield that was just surrounded by nothing but corn stalks towering eight feet tall.  In the middle of this farm land, a baseball diamond came to life, not far from where the actual movie was filmed.

It truly was perfect, and the question absolutely was asked, and answered, of “Is this Heaven?”

For NASCAR, in a sense, they began experiencing their own field of dreams nearly 20 years ago.  Although it was just a test session, the field they were coming to already had an established presence, but was hallowed ground for cars that didn’t have fenders.  It was the summer of 1992 when NASCAR took just nine cars to Indianapolis for a test session, just to see if these heavy cars would be able to handle the big track.

Nearly 50,000 people actually came out just to see these cars go around the track in a controlled fashion, and began chanting, “We want a race!”

Two days later, the same cars did a minor 15-lap sprint, and a year later more cars came back to do more testing at the track.  Seeing the desire, and the potential, of having stock cars at the facility, and giving the Indiana faithful a second race to attend each year.  NASCAR’s field of dreams came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning in 1994, and that is exactly what it delivered.  The first race won by an Indiana native, the second by it’s most intimidating figure.

In 1996, a tradition began that no one expected.

Nine years later, the most popular driver from the state finally got to enjoy taking victory at his home track.  It included climbing a fence and savoring a drink from the track, and laying on the wall, just taking in the moment.

But, this field has also given nightmares to everyone.  The dream in 2008 saw tire after tire explode, and meant caution after caution to prevent a major breakdown.  Then there’s the infamous, “I swear on my children and my wife, I was not speeding” remark from Juan Pablo Montoya that stole away his chance at victory.

At the same time, the luster of this event has tapered off, as attendance has not been as grand as it was when the Brickyard was in it’s glory.  Moving the race from late July or early August to the final race of the regular season did not pan out since weather decided to ruin that opportunity.  Last year, it got moved back to it’s normal month, only to be ran in emptiness with no fans in the stands.

This year, the Brickyard is more complicated, and it may have taken away some of the thrill and legacy that Indianapolis has.  It makes for another opportunity for some drivers to steal a playoff spot, but it also is a different chapter in the legacy that Indianapolis has for NASCAR.  Going clockwise around the famed speedway, and doing so with 14 total turns to get there.

A new era at the Brickyard has begun, and it will mean a new chapter in kissing the bricks.

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