Indianapolis to host dirt track races in infield before Brickyard 400

Kasey Kahne (5), right, takes the lead on the final restart as he heads into the first turn with Brad Keselowski (2) on his way to winning the NASCAR Brickyard 400 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in Indianapolis Sunday, July 23, 2017. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

The 2018 Brickyard 400 will be the first time the race has been held in September. And it’ll be the first time the race will be preceded by dirt-track races in the infield.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Tuesday that it will build a dirt track inside turn 3 for USAC midget dirt races the Wednesday and Thursday before the Sept. 9 400. The race, which has the noble and worthy goal of benefitting organ donation and honoring the late Bryan Clauson, is awkwardly titled “The Driven2SaveLives BC39.” That’s probably to be expected. The official, and awful, name of the Brickyard 400 is the “Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard powered by Florida Georgia Line.”

The two-day event will culminate with a 39-lap feature on Thursday evening. The entire event will have a purse of $70,000 and the track says the $15,000 winner’s share of the purse is the largest in midget car racing.

Construction of The Dirt Track at IMS, located inside Turn 3 of the oval, started last week with the first loads of Indiana clay arriving for grading. Concrete walls and safety fencing will be constructed during the summer, and portable lights will illuminate the track. 

The event will kick off a five-day stretch of racing in the Indianapolis area. The ARCA Series will race at Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday night and the Xfinity Series race at IMS is Saturday, Sept. 8.

The Brickyard 400 has struggled with attendance issues over the past 10 years. The Indianapolis 500 attracts hundreds of thousands of fans. The Brickyard 400 now attracts tens of thousands of fans. The move to September — and make the race the final one of the Cup Series regular season — is designed to change that, though the game will take place at the same time as the 2018 home opener for the Indianapolis Colts

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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