IndyCar Owners Seek Blue Pill for Performance Under Pressure

Editors note: I first started this article in 2019 when IndyCar team owners were pushing for guaranteed starting spots in the Indy 500, abolishing the biggest drama in qualifying. Now that one of those owners (Roger Penske) owns the series, the Speedway, and the 500, that fan-unfriendly idea is rearing it’s age-spotted face again. So here is an updated version of that previously unpublished article.)

“Hear that giant sucking sound?” That’s the sound of fans who crave competition leaving IndyCar and the Indy 500 for any sport where the results are decided in front of them and not in the boardroom.

Fans craved bumping for—how long? They finally got it and it was real drama last year when a series star got caught standing with no chair. (In 2018 James Hinchcliffe was bumped [featured photo above]. 2019’s victim was Fernando Alonso, and in 2023 it was Graham Rahal) It was an amazing atmosphere at the track and I’m sure it had fans on edge in living rooms all over the country. When big budget teams get caught without what it takes to do the job, that’s racing, that’s entertainment.
Fernando Alonso climbs into his car for his ultimately failed 2019 qualifying attempt
And now the old powerbrokers are (again) scared they won’t be able to perform when needed and need the series to give them a blue pill so that they don’t go soft in the heat of battle. This time around they’ve chosen IndyCar CEO Mark Miles to deliver the bad news.

“B-b-but I played all season long….I know I just struck out at a crucial moment, but I deserve first base…”
These guys are whining and America hates whiners. Let the guy or gal who out-qualified them at least be able to sell them their seat in the show. That’s commerce, that’s American.

The series is in serious danger of losing one of its engine manufacturers (Honda), now is NOT the time to neuter competition. Spec series and guaranteed starting spots? Fans skipped this farce during the split and they can (and will) do it again.

story and photos by Tim Hailey
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