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Andretti, Rahal demand points for future international IndyCar races

Should IndyCar venture outside of North America for the first time since 2013, series legends Mario Andretti and Bobby Rahal believe it must award points for the championship.

Mario Andretti

The 2024 schedule for the IndyCar Series has yet to be revealed, but there have been suggestions about an international non-points race.

Argentina has been the primary focal point if North America’s premier open-wheel championship extends beyond its continental territory.

“IndyCar had the best moments when it was either televised or broadcast in 120 countries... back in the early 90s,” the 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1978 F1 world champion Andretti told Motorsport.com. “They had to start all over again, but I think the sport is living in a good moment right now, in general.

“IndyCar, they have the product. They have the drivers and the teams. They're good, solid teams. The talent pool of the drivers right now is probably unprecedented. And so why not expand it?

“I would love to see, not non-championship [races], but championship events if they're expected outside of this United States.”

Conversations and interest in Argentina hosting an IndyCar event have built up over the course of the last year.

The idea picked up traction after Juncos Hollinger Racing pulled off demonstration runs last November at Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Santiago del Estero and Autodromo Oscar y Juan Galvez in Buenos Aires. It was the first time in 51 years an Indy car had been on track in Argentina, when Al Unser conquered the Indy 300 at Rafaela Autodromo after winning both heats.

Agustín Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing, at Termas de Rio Hondo

Agustín Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing, at Termas de Rio Hondo

Photo by: Juncos Entertainment Group

Agustin Canapino, a native Argentine who claimed multiple touring car titles in his country, participated in the exhibition ahead of his rookie season in IndyCar with JHR. Additionally, the 33-year-old returned last month to massive fanfare and competed in the Turismo Carretera – Argentina’s premier touring car championship – in Buenos Aires.

“I think any race that's part of the series, I don't care where it happens, should be a points race,” added Andretti. “Not, 'Okay, we're going to Argentina, but it's not a point race.'

“You know, Formula 1 used to have that; Silverstone used to have a non-points race. That doesn't work. It just doesn't really have any meaning, totally.

“You got to make it meaningful so the effort of everyone is 100 percent. And unless it's championship, everyone will go, 'Well, I think we got to relax on that one.' That that doesn't work. Just leave it alone then.

“Either do it right, go in there with both feet or stay the hell out. That's my point.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, at Thermal Club

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, at Thermal Club

Photo by: IndyCar Series

One development that could impact things is the recent announcement of the non-points special event on March 24 at The Thermal Club outside of Palm Springs, California, which will pay $1m to the winner. There will also be an Open Test and qualifications at the 17-turn, 3.067-mile circuit March 22-23.

“If we're going go somewhere, it needs to be worth it,” Rahal, the 1986 Indy 500 winner and co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, told Motorsport.com. “It needs to be worth it for the teams, for the series.

“When we raced in Australia and Japan, particularly in those two, those are very well profitable, very strong financially events for us in IndyCar.

“Australia was great. Brazil was good, but Brazil, I think they still owe CART money after all these years. I don't think CART exists anymore, but I think they still owe.

“But quality events like Australia, like Japan, those were points events. And yes, if you're going to go all that way, I don't know why you wouldn't make it a points race. I don't know why.

“I mean, if you're going to have a race there, make it a points race. Make it mean something other than just maybe some financial value to it.

“I think for sure events like Australia, Japan, Germany, I'm not sure about England, but I think those were of great value to IndyCar as a brand.”

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