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Nationwide Drivers Appreciate Indy Prestige

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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The Indiana 250 Nationwide Series race doesn’t have the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or even the Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race but to the guys that run for the championship, this is their chance to kiss the bricks.

The decision to move this race from nearby Lucas Oil Raceway to IMS was met with a lot of criticism. The racing isn’t as close as it was on the short track and the atmosphere is lacking at times, despite the aura of the racing at a legitimate cathedral of speed.

Justin Allgaier is one of the drivers who wished they still raced down the road at the former Indianapolis Raceway Park but he can’t deny the added prestige of winning a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s definitely something I have mixed feelings about,” Allgaier told Popular Speed after qualifying. “I love Raceway Park. It’s one of my absolute favorite places to race in the world. But at the same time, the Speedway (referencing Indianapolis) is the Speedway.

“There is a certain feeling you get from racing here once you consider the history of everything that has happened at this place and I definitely want to be here.”

Championship leader Sam Hornish Jr. knows a thing or two about the history of Indianapolis. He grew up just a few hours away in Defiance, Ohio and frequented the track as a child. He’s even made a little history himself, winning the biggest prize the track has to offer — the Indianapolis 500 in 2006.

And yet, he says winning the Indiana 250 would mean just as much to him considering his pursuit of the championship and his plans to someday return to the Sprint Cup Series.

“It could compare real good,” Hornish said of a possible Indiana 250 victory. “If they had a foot race around this place, I think everyone would want to win it… Everybody wants to come to Indianapolis.”

Trevor Bayne will have two chances to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend and he says that he is grateful for the opportunity. He told Popular Speed that he didn’t think the Indiana 250 takes away from the special qualities of the Brickyard 400 and that he’s looking forward to the new challenge of trying to win both races in one weekend.

“That would be cool,” Bayne said. “This is such a special place and nothing compares to it. We have two shots this weekend (with Roush Fenway and the Wood Brothers) and I’m looking forward to just turning laps here.”

So despite some initial hesitation, it appears that most of the Nationwide Series garage is grateful to have the chance to compete at the legendary 2.5-mile Speedway.

Green flag for the Indiana 250 is at 4:30 p.m. and the race will be broadcast on ESPN.

Matt Weaver

Matt Weaver is the Executive Editor of POPULAR SPEED. He has covered NASCAR since 2011 and full-time since 2013. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He has been published all across the country and routinely makes radio appearances on Sirius XM Satellite radio and NBC Sports Radio Network.

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