The 2020 Big Machine Vodka 400‘s NASCAR Xfinity Series round will feature a special flair. On Wednesday, Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced NASCAR’s second-tier series will race on the track’s infield road course after eight seasons on the oval.
“As we’ve seen in recent years, road course racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series provides some of the most thrilling action of the entire season, and we are excited to bring it to an iconic venue like Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations and former Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy stated. “Roger (Penske), Doug (Boles) and the entire IMS team have been tremendous partners in growing the Brickyard weekend, and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a must-see event during July 4th weekend.”
As part of sweeping changes to the NASCAR schedule for 2020, Indianapolis was moved to the 4th of July weekend from its previous slot as the Cup Series regular season finale, swapping with Daytona International Speedway‘s second race. The Xfinity support race, won by Kyle Busch in 2019, has been in existence in 2012 after moving from nearby Lucas Oil Raceway (affectionately remembered by its previous name Indianapolis Raceway Park).
While the specific configuration was not revealed, the IndyCar Series‘ GMR Grand Prix uses a course similar to the one formerly used by Formula One‘s United States Grand Prix except it bypasses oval turn one (a source of controversy for the 2005 USGP). Matt DiBenedetto will conduct a test at the track on various layouts next Wednesday; due to this testing experience, he will not be allowed to run the Xfinity race.
On Twitter, DiBenedetto’s Wood Brothers Racing team provided a flowchart to lightheartedly explain his ineligibility:
With the switch, the 2020 Xfinity calendar now features five road courses: Indy joins the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America, and Watkins Glen International. Prior to the schedule realignment, August was a popular month for NASCAR fans as it consisted of three road course dates (The Glen, Mid-Ohio, Road America).
A formal race name has not been finalised, though Pennzoil has confirmed it will sponsor the event.
“Pennzoil has enjoyed success on and off the track during its partnership with race teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the decades, and we’re eager to open a new relationship with the Racing Capital of the World by sponsoring the first NASCAR road course race at the track,” Shell Vice President of North American Marketing Patty Lanning said. “Every driver will want to make American racing history by winning this inaugural Xfinity Series road race on the Fourth of July at IMS. It’s going to be a great event.”