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Roger Penske calls IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader on street course ‘interesting’

Despite Kyle Larson sweeping both stage wins and leading a race-high 269 laps, Ryan Blaney passes him inside of 10 laps remaining to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In a season that will see the NASCAR Cup Series race on a dirt track for the first time since 1970 and more road courses than it has in a single year, about the only thing missing is a race on a street course.

Car owner Roger Penske — who acquired the NTT IndyCar Series in 2019 — says he is for a NASCAR street race and having more doubleheader weekends between the two series.

“I think that’s interesting,” Penske said during a Zoom with media Monday on the concept of NASCAR and IndyCar holding races on a street course on the same weekend. “Remember down in Australia we ran a similar type car (Australian Supercars). It was a little bit smaller, but we ran every week down there and every race was on some sort of a street or a permanent road course and it was great. So, that could certainly be an opportunity and something we should take a look at.”

Penske has liked the idea for a few years, saying in 2018: “I think if somebody wanted to do (a NASCAR street course race) and put that on, it would be very interesting.”

Cup car owner Justin Marks said in 2018 that NASCAR needed to look at moving races to street courses.

I’m a huge believer you have to take your product to the people,” Marks said three years ago. “In 2012, I went to the Long Beach Grand Prix as a competitor in the Pirelli World Challenge Series, and I remember spending the weekend at that race there looking around at 100,000 people and thinking that 90,000 of these people aren’t racing fans. They’re here because it’s a great cultural event.

“I think that the days of people driving 500 miles from their home to spend four days at a racetrack camping are numbered.”

Penske said Monday that next year might be too soon for NASCAR to have a street course race with the Cup Series debuting the Next Gen car.

“I think we need a year or maybe two years to get our hands around these cars and know how agile they are and what are the costs?” Penske said. “Does it need more brakes, etc, which you need. If you’re running on a street course, you don’t have the long straightaways to cool the brakes, so there’s a lot of things that become different.

“You could even see that at Daytona — couldn’t you? — with drivers running out of brakes down there at the end of those stints, but those are things we can adapt to, I think, very quickly as teams.”

NASCAR and IndyCar again will race at the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course on the same weekend this year. They’ll both race on the same weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second year in a row. This time, the NTT IndyCar Series, NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series all will race on the road course. The IndyCar Series will race there on Aug. 14 and be followed by the Xfinity Series race that day. The Cup Series races on that Indy road course on Aug. 15.

“I’ve had conversations with (NASCAR President Steve) Phelps, that we would be very happy to run on the weekend,” Penske said of a weekend doubleheader involving both series. “We’re trying it, obviously, as we’ve done last year at Indy. We’re gonna do it again this year on the road race, so I think we work well together. We have a short race. We could run maybe two races on a Saturday, will help the attendance for any promoter. Maybe we run at night. We run Saturday night, and they run Sunday, so there’s lots of combinations.

“I would hope that we could do more of that. I’m open myself, but it’s a matter of what NASCAR wants to do with our schedule.”