SPEEDWAY - The president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway says despite the challenge of attendance, the Brickyard 400 continues to be a strong economic driver. The 26th running of the race takes place this weekend, serving as the crowning event for the regular season championship in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series and setting the stage for the series playoffs. Doug Boles says the speedway is continuing to look for ways to bring more people to the track during race weekend.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Boles said the race continues to be important to NASCAR, IMS and the community.

"More people attend the Brickyard 400 than attend an NFL football game and while we have 235,000 permanent seats and you put 75,000 plus people in the venue, it kind of looks empty and people give us a hard time about it," said Boles. "It's still a huge crowd. It's still really important; the economic engine that is the Brickyard 400 is important. Hotels, motels, the taxes we collect there that go to help fund a lot of our things downtown, it is an important thing for this community."

Boles says several efforts have been put in place to help grow attendance and awareness of the race. They include adding the BC39 dirt track race and providing more music performances like what is offered in the month of May leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Boles says the dirt track race has brought everything back to Indy's racing roots.

"The short-track racing, especially in the Midwest and Indiana, is the heart and soul of motorsport. There are so many people that go to their local Saturday night track and they'd love to see an opportunity for that Saturday night, local star to get a chance to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and to do it through midget racing has been fantastic. We had 110 cars entered last year; we're going have pretty close to that again this year."

Next year, the Brickyard 400 moves to the Fourth of July weekend. Boles says while that brings the race back to hotter temperatures in the summer, it presents a great opportunity for branding.

"The opportunity for the Indianapolis market and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to own the two biggest summer weekends, Memorial Day weekend and then roll it right into Independence Day weekend, it fits an awful lot with our brand; it certainly fits with the brand of Indianapolis and Indiana as we celebrate those men and women who've served. We're going to build a lot of things around that weekend."

You can watch the full interview in the video above.