It’s not often the Indy 500 gets upstaged by another race on the IndyCar calendar, as being one of the most competitive oval circuits.
Usually the pack spreads out to the point where pitstops and late cautions end up deciding the race result. However with the introduction of the new Aero kits coupled with the conditions in Fontana during a sunny late-June, it set the stage for what was one of the most competitive races I have ever witnessed.
With cars seemingly all over the place it looked like the M6 at rush hour, with some going four-wide on occasion. A record 80 lead changes, over the course of 200 laps, going an average speed of 208mph sums up an incredible contest right up until the chequered flag.
Controversy post-race led some to speculate whether IndyCar should return to Super Speedways in 2016, after an airplane crash involving Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay on the penultimate lap (left).
2014 champion Will Power was among the drivers to voice their concerns over this type of ‘pack’ racing, referencing the tragic events of Las Vegas in 2011 which claimed the life of Dan Wheldon. Others (and perhaps less experienced) however thought it was amazing, noting the 117 laps that we were green flag racing and the space that drivers could give each other on the wider circuit more suited to IndyCars. NBC Sports commentator Paul Tracy put it bluntly: “If you don’t like this kind of racing there’s something wrong with you….”
Questions over the management of the series were also raised, with less than 5,000 people turning up in the grandstands and close to 30,000 watching it on TV. Fontana’s management said they would have the series back in 2016 if they were chosen as the season finale and raced in September/October, when the trackside temperatures are considerably lower.
As it turns out IndyCar will race into September next year, but sadly will not return to Southern California after an agreement was not reached. Shame really, especially considering IndyCar will only be visiting three Speedways next year. I might just watch this years again for the hell of it!
Image Credit: Fox Sports