Fans ready for Brickyard 400 Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
It was a chilly morning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but NASCAR fans didn't mind.
The 2013 Brickyard 400 is set to get underway at 1:00 pm Sunday. Ryan Newman snatched the pole position away from Jimmie Johnson Saturday as he made the final qualifying run of 45 drivers. The Rocket Man made a stock car record lap of 187.531 mph. He'll drive the number 39 Chevy from the pole today.
In turn three, fans were bundled up and camped out early. Tradition is the thing at IMS, and one big fan tradition is that everyone has their favorite driver. They don't make a secret of it, either.
Jimmie Johnson, Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were among the drivers fans were rooting for Sunday.
"I love the drivers. I love Jeff Gordon. Everything about NASCAR," said one fan.
It's loyalty and sometimes even a little controversy. "I like that, too!" he said.
One concern is falling attendance. At some NASCAR tracks, attendance has dropped by 25 percent or more. NASCAR and the IMS are aware of that, but they point out it's still an immensely popular sport with room to build on.
"We have 100,000 race fans that are on average coming to the race each week. There's no other sporting event in this country that has those types of numbers. They just don't. The television ratings for us this year, they average almost seven million viewers each race," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR VP of NASCAR Sales/Marketing. "We're a strong deliverer of ratings. We're a strong deliverer of audiences We're serving that fan from a television standpoint. The fans are now being served, I think better and better, from a race track perspective. I think that attendance will start to push back up as well."
Drivers and fans are giving thumbs-up to NASCAR's new G6 race cars. Last years, cars looked so much alike, even manufacturers couldn't tell them apart. Now they look more like the Fords and Chevys people drive every day.