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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — The winds of change have blown through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a big way in the last few years.

With Roger Penske taking over ownership of the track and making vast changes, many of them for the better, the track is poised to see a period of great prosperity. One of the ideas, in tandem with NASCAR, to fuel this push has been to move the traditional annual NASCAR race from the oval to the infield road course.

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The move, a result of declining ticket sales and overall fan interest in the oval race as well as reviews of the race as “boring” or a “parade of cars with no passing.”

Still, it’s a decision being received with mixed reviews from fans, media, and even the drivers. It was Kevin Harvick who was among the first to sound off his displeasure with the decision to replace the Brickyard 400 on the oval with the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on the road course.

“I’m not a huge fan. For me, driving through that tunnel and understanding the history and everything that comes with racing on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something that I always look forward to,” said Harvick. “To me, it’s just another race now.”

Austin Dillon is pulling up a chair beside Harvick in that sentiment.

“I think we lose a crown jewel when we don’t go to the oval there,” Dillon said. “The history of it, you know, I don’t think the road course will be what the oval history has.’

“If we have to run the road course, we still want to be able to run the oval because of the history and the legacy,” he added. “Everybody wants a real Brickyard trophy. For me, this weekend if you win there it’s not going to be like on the oval.”

AJ Allmendinger knows what it means to race at Indianapolis. He is an IndyCar veteran in his own right having spent a few seasons in the early 2000s in the Champ Car World Series during the height of the IRL/Champ Car split. He ran a part-time schedule for Team Penske in the IndyCar Series in 2013 and finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500 after starting on the front row.

Allmendinger says it doesn’t matter which track you race on at Indianapolis, he says winning at Indy is a big deal.

“The generic fan, or maybe not even a fan of motorsports, they know what that place is,” said Allmendinger. “That’s what Indianapolis means to me. You can say ‘ya, I won at Indy’. I don’t have an opinion on whether it’s bigger to win on the oval or the road course. A win at Indy is a win at Indy.”

Regardless of opinion, the weekend is poised to be one of the biggest in the recent history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the NASCAR Cup Series forming a tripleheader on the IMS road course.

This will be the first time ever all three series’ will be running consecutive races on the same race track in one weekend. Last year, the Xfinity Series ran the first-ever stock car road race at IMS in what has been regarded as one of the best races at IMS in recent memory.

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