IndyCar needs to take a lesson from NASCAR
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard and competition director Beaux Barfield need to camp out in front of the television today with pen and paper.
Better yet, jump on a plane and travel to Michigan International Speedway and take in firsthand the Quicken Loans 400 Sprint Cup event. Apparently, these two need pointers on how to run a national series.
I’m not a big fan of all the convoluted rules in NASCAR but after witnessing IndyCar’s engine policies and the penalty that follows, maybe the men pulling the stock-car strings in Daytona aren’t all that bad.
IndyCar rules state that drivers have a mileage minimum on their engines before being allowed to change power plants. Scott Dixon and Will Power, the top two men in points, blew engines at Iowa this week in testing.
The end result was a ludicrous 10-spot penalty after qualifying. Power timed fourth but was forced to start 14th, and Dixon was penalized from 11th to 21st on the grid.
I understand if you change motors after qualifying, but folks, we’re talking practice. Not an actual race, it was practice. Oh, excuse me, it was testing for next week’s race.
Whether it was last week at Texas, testing this week in Iowa or Saturday’s race in Milwaukee, the rule is absurd.
Could you imagine Joey Logano blowing an engine in testing for Pocono and then getting penalized and having to start 10th instead of on the pole for last week’s race, something he earned by turning the quick lap?
The assumption is that this rule is in place to save teams dollars and cents. The only other reason for such a sanction is to level the playing field between super owners Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi and Michael Andretti and the have nots.
But it isn’t like they blew the motor on purpose. These are basically crate motors from Honda and Chevrolet, and defects and performance issues happen.
It’s not the driver’s fault. It’s not the crew chief’s fault. It’s not the owner’s fault. And yet, the team pays the price.
Thankfully, NASCAR realizes that throughout history, there have been owners that outspend other owners. The governing body doesn’t need to come up with tricks or gimmicks to take away competitive advantage.
It’s a good thing Marcos Ambrose, the pole sitter for today’s Sprint Cup race, doesn’t have to worry about such a penalty. It’s hard enough to win one of these races being behind other cars in dirty air and trying to carve your way to the front of the field.
Not only is it difficult to pass in any racing series with all the parity in place, you have a better chance of getting mixed up in an accident battling for position with slower cars and drivers of lesser ability.
IndyCar doesn’t have to worry about a lack of talent, there is plenty in place. But series officials have failed miserably in trying to piggy-back the success of this year’s Indy 500.
Since the Memorial Day weekend, a car-owner tried to get Bernard fired on Twitter, the asphalt ripped up in Detroit and forced a two-hour delay, there was a rash of accidents and mechanical failures in Texas and dumb rules came to the forefront.
It’s sad. The IndyCar product is a good one if put in the right position and managed correctly. But it seems that is a big “if.”
NASCAR’s model isn’t perfect, but it is right in a lot of ways. And for a struggling IndyCar Series, it might be time to take a page out of the stock car book. JEREMY ELLIOTT, The Patriot-News The Patriot-News