NFL game to hurt Brickyard 400

Fans have largely stopping coming to see NASCAR at the Brickyard
Fans have largely stopping coming to see NASCAR at the Brickyard

Per the NFL schedule just released, the Indianapolis Colts are slated to open the 2018 NFL season against the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. – just one hour before the green flag flies on the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line.

This is a blow for the Brickyard 400 that has seen attendance plummet in recent years because the racing is so boring as the heavy IndyCar struggle on the flat 2.5-mile oval.

For years fans complained that it was too hot in July so Speedway boss Doug Boles asked NASCAR to move the Brickyard — which will be run for the 25th time — from its usual slot in July to the final regular-season race on the NASCAR calendar at the beginning of September.

While Indianapolis temperatures should be cooler in September than in July, the Brickyard could now be facing an even tougher opponent than the heat: the Colts. The Colts will almost undoubtedly attract a sellout crowd to Lucas Oil Stadium for their opener, and that could draw fans away from a race that has not been very popular in Indianapolis lately.

Hulman & Co. President & CEO Mark Miles, whose company owns IMS and IndyCar, in February said that IMS was planning a "much stepped-up" marketing effort around the race this year, similar to what it has been doing in recent years for IndyCar's Indianapolis 500, which has conversely seen an attendance resurgence during that time. Now it might be a waste of money.