Spec racing is part of IndyCar now, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Love it or hate it, spec racing is now part and parcel of the Verizon IndyCar Series, and that is a good thing. This particular view will be met with pitchforks and torches from many segments of the IndyCar universe, but like street races, it’s here for the foreseeable future.
The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston was a great example of what the parity in spec racing gives the fans. Parity equals better racing. Better racing SHOULD equal more fans at the race or viewers on television in the future. The Jack Hawksworth/Juan Pablo Montoya battle was the scintillating example of big racing small and small coming out on top. Fans should love this action.
Hamilton Motorsports are the beneficiaries of this parity. While it is hard to argue that SPH is small, it is certainly not of the size of the Penske, Ganassi, or Andretti operations. They can compete precisely because the spec gives them parity of equipment. Now the differences are drivers, pit deltas, and strategy, and none of those areas are affected by the car’s specifications. In the Saturday race at NRG Park, Dale Coyne won with strategy, not money. Toss in the Sunday podium of Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin from Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports and Jack Hawksworth from Bryan Herta Autosport, and you have the poster for what is right about the current formula in IndyCar: cost containment and development restrictions that lead to all the teams on the grid being competitive.
Of course, not everyone in the IndyCar universe is happy about spec racing. Certainly many fans champion unlimited spending and unlimited regulation that allows the richest teams to dominate the sport with research and development. That’s one way to look at it. Bankrupt the small guys or force them to race for the mid-pack/backmarker trophy. The bigger teams, who demanded cost containment, only wanted costs contained if their ability to develop/fabricate/source certain parts that gave them an advantage was unfettered. With the old Dallara chassis, the shops of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti were able to use their expertise and money to shave tenths and hundredths from lap times, and in an age when the rest of the car was the same, that was enough to dominate. Other than shocks, the teams can no longer develop parts to find an edge. Parity on the track is the result.
Fans are a fickle bunch and identifying what will bring them through the gates and put them in front of televisions is a science and an art best left to the experts. But if they would ever ask if I preferred great equipment or great racing, the racing would win. And if the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston is the result of spec racing, then why change it? For now, spec racing rules. Long live the spec!