The Nationwide Series should be one and done at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Getty Images Photo)
INDIANPOLIS - If Saturday's Indiana 250 were a Broadway play the show would have closed after opening night.
The Nationwide Series debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the NASCAR version of Great White Way flops like “Springtime for Hitler” and “Spider-Man, the Musical.”
After 30 years of holding one of the best races of all three NASCAR top divisions at the nearby Lucas Oil Raceway, the Nationwide Series was yanked from its short track roots to run as a companion event to Sunday's Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup Series race.
(I realize the official name of this year's race is a sponsor-palooza title that would take up too much space in this blog post so I'm going with Brickyard 400).
And as many feared it turned out to be a monumentally bad idea.
A sparse crowd “announced” at 40,000 filed into the mammoth Indy stadium, which would have been close to a sell out at the Lucas Oil short track but looked like a party of two eating dinner at a banquet table on Saturday.
They witnessed a mostly single file afternoon of racing with a handful of incidents and pit road mistakes but pretty much devoid of competition.
Then to make matters worse, NASCAR made a late race call to black flag Elliott Sadler for not jumping a restart but for passing the race leader Brad Keselowski before reaching the start-finish line.
Again let me repeat, NASCAR said Sadler did not jump the restart. However despite the fact Keselowski clearly spun his tires and Sadler was being shoved from behind by Austin Dillon, a penalty was called.
To confuse matters even more, that decision was viewed as different from the circumstances that started the race when pole sitter Kasey Kahne didn't make it across the finish line ahead of second place qualifier Kyle Busch.
That incident was deemed as one that is “in the hands of the race starter” and if the leader chooses not to go at the drop of the green flag then so be it – all bets are off.
Get in line.
Despite the explanation, I still think NASCAR missed this one.
It happens in all sports. But one of the main differences here is while a Major League Baseball umpire might admit he made a mistake to cost a pitcher a perfect game or the NBA will confirm a flagrant foul call wasn't right, you'll never hear NASCAR fess up to a blunder.
Had the sanctioning body copped a mea culpa in this case, it wouldn't restore what was rightfully Sadler's by any means but it would have at least put some salve on the wound and probably generated some good will from fans, which is in short supply right now.
Ripping the soul of the sport away with the ill-advised move from Lucas Oil Raceway to the Brickyard ranks near the top of the list of bad decisions like the one that took the Labor Day Southern 500 from Darlington.
And rather than it being a help to build what is being billed as “Super Weekend," in reality adding an undercard to the Brickyard has only sapped even more specialness out of the annual summer trip to Indy.
If NASCAR were smart they'd pack up the sets and move the Nationwide scenery back to Clermont. While the show isn't good enough for the main spotlight it can certainly prosper on a smaller stage.