There are few things more American than Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So when the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the Brickyard for its inaugural attempt at running the infield road course on July 4 (3 p.m. ET on NBC/NBC Sports App, IMS Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), well, it’s tough to raise the patriotic bar any higher than that.
Given its prominence at a national level, being able to win at Indianapolis just puts a driver in a certain echelon no matter the style of chassis that surrounds him when he takes the checkers or layout of the track he does it on.
Knowing he might be the preeminent favorite as things stand now given his team’s strong performance in 2020 and his chops as arguably the sport’s last remaining road-course ringer, AJ Allmendinger is already fantasizing about what it’d be like to add his name to the history books alongside some of motorsports’ greats.
“To be completely honest, it has nothing to do with it being the first road course (race) ever for Xfinity at Indy, it’s just the history behind the race track,” Allmendinger said June 17. “There’s very few places … when you go to a race track that has so much history behind it, whether its Indycars, stock cars, whatever it may be, you say the word ‘Indy’ and people that aren’t in motorsports understand what the history is behind that race track and just to pull into Victory Lane or kiss the bricks is something special, I don’t care what car you’re in.”
There’s only one other track in the country that registers at the same national wavelength as Indy — Daytona International Speedway, the longtime former host of July 4 weekend festivities in NASCAR and the only other track able to shoulder that weight.
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Winning at Daytona is unlike anything else, as well, and it’s a familiar feeling to Allmendinger.
“I remember this at Daytona. I won in a Skip Barber National series car and I pulled into Victory Lane and that was special to me, because that was Daytona,” said Allmendinger, who won at Watkins Glen International in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2014. “It’s the same thing. The Brickyard. All the history and the winners in so many different forms of racing there now, I would love to be a part of that.”
And of course, if he’s part of that? Along with it comes a date with the track’s infamous bricks at the start-finish line.
“I just want to be part of that history and it’d be something special to kiss the bricks, even if we have to do it with the masks on,” he said. “I don’t care, I’ll do it with the masks on.”