Credit to Bernard for not replacing China in haste
Credit IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard for taking a big step forward for his decision to not only keep the season finale at Auto Club Speedway but restore a long-standing tradition.
Perhaps the next step in the process will be to add another 500-mile race at Michigan International Speedway (or even Pocono Raceway) and offer, let's say, $5 million to an IndyCar driver for sweeping the revised Triple Crown.
Nothing captures the imagination, ratings and media attention like a million-dollar check. It might even cause NASCAR to take a look at the series it has beat up on a consistent basis for the past 10 years.
Bernard didn't panic after the August race in China went away, cutting the schedule to 15 races. He tried to line up a replacement, but there were difficult issues to overcome, mainly lack of time and financial.
He also was willing to drive a stake into Tony George's greatest fear, that another 500-mile race would diminish the golden goose that is the Indianapolis 500. If anything, adding two more 500-mile races would increase the series' visibility and return the Indy 500 to the platform it deserves.
For veteran open-wheel fans, the Triple Crown was comprised of 500-mile races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Ontario Motor Speedway. Now-defunct CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) later tried to steal the thunder with a big payday at Michigan.
All that is water under the bridge. IndyCar and Michigan need to work together, but
that probably would mean IndyCar would have to back down on the sanctioning fee it wants to charge.
IndyCar always has stood for big speeds on big ovals. Road course races are good, as is the Long Beach Grand Prix. But open-wheel fans for the most part want to see speeds NASCAR can't approach.
The onus is on Auto Club Speedway to market the California 500 as never before. Don't look for crowds as big as Indy, but a crowd of 60,000 (at $35 a ticket) certainly is within reach with a championship points race at stake.
Southern California race fans traditionally have attended those September/October 500-mile races, and this year should be no different. LA Daily News