Brickyard 400 returns to NASCAR schedule after three-year hiatus

The Brickyard 400 is back.

The NASCAR Cup Series will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval on July 21, 2024 after a three-year stint on the track’s road course. NASCAR had run 26 Cup Series races on the oval before moving to the road course in 2021.

The move to the road course came amid lagging attendance for NASCAR at Indianapolis. After sellout crowds in the 1990s when NASCAR first raced at Indy, the tire debacle of 2008 was a huge black eye for both the track and NASCAR. The combination of NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow, track surface and tire caused the tires to wear too quickly during practice. NASCAR then threw a caution every 10 laps or so throughout the 160-lap race in an attempt to prevent tire failures.

Attendance cratered after that race as NASCAR and IMS searched for ways to bring fans back.

Ideas included date changes and a track change. After running the race in late July from 2007-17, NASCAR moved the race to September for 2018 and 2019. After two years competing with the NFL’s opening weekend, the Brickyard 400 was moved to July 5 in 2020.

The switch to the road course came in 2021 as the race was pushed to mid-August. AJ Allmendinger won the first road course race while Tyler Reddick won on July 31, 2022.

Michael McDowell won the 2023 road course race on Aug. 13 in an event that featured just one caution for three laps. That race, along with the following week’s race at Watkins Glen that also included one caution, helped lead NASCAR to re-implement stage cautions ahead of the playoff race at the Charlotte Roval on Oct. 8.

NASCAR had moved to get rid of stage cautions at road courses before the season in an attempt to foster greater strategy variation, but the lack of cautions and the restarts that follow them meant the change didn’t even make it a full season.

The full NASCAR 2024 schedule is set to be released in the coming weeks. Bristol Motor Speedway previously announced that the spring race at the track would be back on the permanent concrete surface and not on dirt for a fourth season.

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