Five worthless opinions: Fontana MAVTV 500 edition

Flying cars, five-wide racing, hurt feelings, and a Rahal back in Victory Lane - All that and more highlighted this past weekend's wild 500-miler.

Five worthless opinions: Fontana MAVTV 500 edition
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet leads the start
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Race winner Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Race winner Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet leads the start
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport Honda
Race action
Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in huge crash
Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda in huge crash
Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda and Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet crash
Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda in huge crash
Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet and Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet

Surprise, anger, frustration, elation, bitterness…sounds like IndyCar to me.  Fontana, with nobody watching, put on one of the best races in recent memory.  Unless you think good racing is not racing at all.  More on that below.  Here they are, the best worthless opinions about the Verizon IndyCar Series you will find in the shrinking corner of the Internet that still cares about the endangered species known as oval racing.

Graham Rahal won a race - In a Honda - For a one car team

What’s better than those three items above is how he won it. He bullied the status quo. He chopped, shoved, bumped, and squeezed his way to the front while dragging fueling equipment with him. This was no rainy street course where a fueling or tire strategy bumped him to the front. He did it on his own. And it seems that the black hat the series so desperately needs someone to wear fits him well. It will be interesting to see if someone decides to knock it off his head.

Honda takes the fight to Chevrolet

Honda won a race that was not decided by weather and/or strategy. With Honda playing coy about a long-term contract to supply motors to the series, this is cause for corks to be popped. After the Indy 500 debacle of punishing Honda for the sins of Chevy, Honda and the series needed this to happen. Honda has leverage over the series, and everyone knows it.  The best part of this story is how Honda won. They rolled up their sleeves and made the aero better.  Of course, social media was abuzz with conspiracy theories about how the series jiggered the finish to ensure a Honda win. Right. It is just hard for me to imagine IndyCar race control, you know, controlling anything.

Split opinions throughout the paddock

It appears that the easy collegiality of the paddock is a little frayed right now. That’s what close racing does to people. Was it pack racing? Sure, why not. Was is simply close racing? Sure, why not. It was crazy racing, that’s for sure. It was dangerous, risky, scary, no holds barred, fish or cut bait, white knuckle stuff. It was edge of your seat drama that had people, fans and drivers both, taking sides. Will Power, Tony Kanaan, and Juan Pablo Montoya quite clearly though it was stupid and needlessly risky.  Ryan Hunter-Reay thought it was worthless to do it in front of an almost non-existent crowd. Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti just consider it racing. High-flying Ryan Briscoe did not condemn the style of racing even though he went airborne at the end of the race. The most pointed comment was from Ed Carpenter, who tweeted that people should shut up or retire. Wow. Since there are no more tracks like this on the schedule, the dissent should go from a boil to a simmer. For now.

Lack of a crowd

As an oval fan, I hate to see a track like Fontana fade away. When no one attends an event that is refused not only date equity but a date that works for the promoter, the writing is on the wall. You will find no answers to this conundrum here. Oval fans want Fontana, Milwaukee, and Texas on the schedule, but if no one attends the races, there  will be no races. Promoters have to eat. Whether you like it or not, the MAVTV 500 was the most exciting must-see racing of the year. A recent report by Brant James in USA Today indicate that the series is open to being “flexible with sanctioning fees and fees and offering a modest co-op fund to help promoters market.” It took the series this long to realize that these options are necessary? IndyCar has a problem on its hands. I think the series needs to print “Save the Ovals” bumper stickers. It worked for the whales.

The portal to draw in new fans

IndyCar fans are nuts. I could just stop right there and most readers would just nod their heads in agreement. Social media absolutely blew up with every possible opinion on the racing at Fontana. One side loved it. The other abhorred it. Some fans thought the celebration of Graham Rahal’s win should be muted because the racing was dangerous.  How does that work? I have written before that the future of the Verizon IndyCar Series does not rest on the passionate nutjobs that currently follow the series. The future of the series is completely about people who are not currently fans. This kind of racing, as crazy and dangerous as it is, is one portal to draw in these new fans.  This is not a promoter’s problem; it is a series problem. If the problem is not fixed, losing ovals will be the least of the series’ problems.

There you go.  Completely worthless and totally uniformed opinions that you only find here.  It was my pleasure to make them up.

shares
comments
High-intensity pack racing infuriates some, enthralls others

Previous article

High-intensity pack racing infuriates some, enthralls others

Next article

Long time coming: Rahal, Andretti names share podium again

Long time coming: Rahal, Andretti names share podium again
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Fontana
Location Auto Club Speedway
Author Mark Wilkinson
Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car? Prime

Is the mighty McLaren M16 the greatest ever Indy car?

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indy car game-changer that won three Indy 500s in six years.

IndyCar
Dec 23, 2020