Thursday, July 2, 2015

Who Stands Where After Fontana

The 2015 MAVTV 500 has been the most talked about race outside of an Indianapolis 500 in a very long time. The thrilling action, intense racing, and obvious danger led to many drivers and team spokesmen to speak out about what they thought about the race and the 'pack racing' that we saw. So much has been said that I've compiled a rundown of tid-bits of what drivers and officials have said. This comes after Mark Miles in a teleconference said that he was displeased with many of the comments made by drivers and officials after the race.

So as the dust is settling from one of the best races many of us have ever seen, let's see how many drivers and other big names have reacted from the race days after its completion (sorted alphabetically by last name):

Marco Andretti
Marco Andretti told the media after the race, "It's definitely crazy; pack racing's always like that. You've got guys that just don't want to back off, guys going forward, guys going backward, inside, outside. I find it quite fun but extremely dangerous, but that's what we sign up for. We put on a heck of a show for the fans, that's for sure."


Michael Andreti
Michael Andretti said after the race, "That was not good. It was back to the old IRL days. I'm sure it's exciting in the stands or on TV, but for us, as team owners and drivers, it's not fun at all."


Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais spoke with John Oreovicz of ESPN after the race, and had this to say: ""I'm not a big fan of that racing by any stretch, but we don't get to decide. We haven't been consulted or anything, and the series has trapped itself because of the way the aero kits are. It could very well be the same at Iowa because the amount of downforce we can run at Iowa is crazy. The speedway and superspeedway kits definitely have some issues."

Photo: Chris Jones / Indycar Media

Ryan Briscoe
Ryan Briscoe interviewed with Chris Jenkins of USA Today, and said, "“I was really enjoying the race. I thought it was great. It’s a really wide track so it gives you a lot of options to look for clean air. So I thought there were a few drivers, and not to name any, that looked like they were deliberately trying to chop people in the middle of the corners and stuff. That’s just the kind of business you don’t need. I think there were some close calls on the straightaways sometimes just with lane changing and that kind of stuff. You’ve just got to be really heads-up. Other people sort of compared the race to what we experienced for 11 laps in Vegas a couple of years ago, and I didn’t feel like it was anything like that at all. Vegas was just easy, it was kind of like anyone could just run under the rear wing. Here you couldn’t do it. You had to look for clean air, you had to expose your front wing to get through the corner and stay close. It’s not like we’re all running nose to tail in a pack. We were all close together but you sort of experiment with different lines.

I wouldn’t want to do it every weekend, but I thought that it was an exciting race and if anything, I think there could have been a bit more discipline amongst the drivers. And I wasn’t 100 percent innocent, either. I’ve seen some of the highlights and I wasn’t 100 percent innocent. But I don’t think anyone was out there. And I think if we were going back to do it next week, in the drivers’ meeting, there would just be a lot of conversation, hey, we just need to look after each other a little bit more out there. But I don’t see that sort of racing continuing a whole lot. I don’t think the series wants to take that risk on a regular basis. I’d probably expect to see aero kit changes … the next one coming up is Pocono. I’d probably expect the league to make changes so we won’t be able to run as close to each other. But for me, I thought it was an exciting race. Just an unfortunate ending.”

Briscoe also tweeted this after the race:




Ed Carpenter
Ed Carpenter, who is notoriously a strong proponent of this kind of racing, told Bob Kravitz of WTHR 13 Indianapolis, "We're never going to be able to grow the sport if we're tearing it apart from the inside out. I'm not saying any of those guys shouldn't have an opinion after that race. We're all entitled to an opinion but how you deliver that message is the important thing. You don't need to deliver it to the fans first…Someone wrote to me on Twitter, 'I spent three hours watching that race and enjoying every minutes of it, but I struggled listening to drivers that I love saying they hated it.' That's confusing for fans.

My mentality on what we do is, it's all dangerous,'' he said. “And that's part of my frustration. Any time I get in a car, I know it might be my last day. There's no guarantees in what we do, ever. That's what frustrates me, some drivers who think the only way we're going to get hurt is in some kind of pack racing. To me, that's ridiculous. Dario (Franchitti's) career was ended on a street course, not a pack race. Dan (Wheldon) died in a pack race. Plenty of others have died on road courses. Tony Renna died at the Speedway and he was the only car on the track. What we do is dangerous. So for me, I'm okay with that. This is what I want to do."

Carpenter also spoke with John Oreovicz, saying, "This is a great sport, and this was a great race, The fans were screaming after the race. So don't get out of the car and slam the sport. If you don't want to do it, go do something else. I love IndyCar, and I want to do it, no matter what type of racing it is. There's plenty of other guys who would give an arm to be out there in a car."


Tim Cindric
Tim Cindric, President of Team Penske, told Jon Beekhuis on the NBC Sports broadcast, "It's really disappointing because we sat down after Las Vegas with Indycar and we all sat there and discussed the fact that we could never have a race like we had there in terms of the pack racing that goes on or used to go on in Indycar. And why we are doing it here today I have no idea..... It was very obvious to use after the first practice that this is the way it was going to be. We voiced our concerns, our drivers voiced their concerns... Running open wheel cars like this is very difficult."


Derek Daly
Former Formula 1 and Indycar driver and father of Indycar driver Conor Daly, Derek Daly, was asked on WISH TV what his thoughts on the race were. He said, "I think yesterday's race was the finest Indycar race I have ever witnessed. I was on the edge of my seat every lap. As for Will's (Power) comment, I think that is an emotionally laden that will grab headlines, but I think he's absolutely wrong to say something like that. This sport that we all love and are involved with is inherently dangerous. Yes drivers could lose their lives. It's part of the attraction to come into this sport; it's part of the attraction to watch this sport. And because it was fast and because it was close and because there was a couple of incidents, I think you can't take a race like that and just suddenly say, 'We can't do that anymore because of something in the past. And I think a call like that by a champion, you've got to be very careful because someone might listen to you, and then that would be really detrimental to the sport."


Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon told the media after the race, "That was kind of a mess of a race.... I think the levels of downforce were too high and it needed to be spread out more."

Dixon also told John Oreovicz of ESPN, "They (Indycar) definitely buggered it up."

Photo: Chris Jones / Indycar Media

AJ Foyt
Team owner and legend AJ Foyt told NBC Sport's Kelly Stavast on air, "I enjoy this type of racing when I was doing it, it's not that much fun watching.. No, I think it's great racing. At least you can race. That's what I like about racing. When you can race, you can race."


Dario Franchitti
Former Indycar champion Dario Franchitti tweeted this:


Chip Ganassi
Chip Ganassi told the San Francsico Chronicle, ""Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt — (but) you can't touch wheels with open-wheel cars and for some reason these drivers think you can do that these days. I think somebody needs to sit the drivers down and tell them they've got to stop chopping other guys and stop touching wheels and stop racing every lap like it's the last lap. Some of the drivers don't want a pack, I think it's pretty obvious, the older guys don't want a pack and the younger guys don't really care."


Jack Hawksworth
Jack Hawksworth told MotorSportsTalk's Tony DiZinno, "I wouldn't say it was crazy. It was exciting I think. There was a lot going on; granted, I would have been like to been in the thick of it a bit more. I was at the back end of it. But I thought the racing was good. It was close, right? Everyone was going and pushing hard. The crazy thing was only when people made crazy moves with 70 laps to go still, when everyone's that close. It doesn't matter with 50 or 70 to go. Doing some do-or-die early on, that was strange.

I never thought it was too bad; they raced worse than this for like 10 years with the old car, right? I think you have certain drivers and teams who would like it to be a certain way, because it gives them more of an advantage. If it is pack racing, then everybody is very close and anything can happen, or certainly it gives everyone a shot.. You don't know what will happen 'til the end.

If you take the downforce off the cars, and it’s single-file, and the fastest car goes to the front and pulls away, it’s not as exciting. If you’re one of those guys who thinks they could run off into the distance, you’d probably be against it in my opinion. I don’t understand how it can be super dangerous now, but yet they raced the old car four-wide every single week for God knows how long, right? Obviously the Las Vegas incident was horrific, but racing is inherently dangerous. A freak accident can happen in any condition. It doesn’t need to be ‘pack racing’ to cause it.

The big thing for me was reaction to people who watched the race was exciting, which is a good thing, right? That’s my opinion. If people thought it was exciting, the racing was good… let’s be honest, it was much more exciting to watch than Texas. Yeah, the incident at the end was unfortunate, but I thought the race was exciting.”


Tony Kanaan
Tony Kanaan told the media after the race, "That was one of the most nerve-racking races I've ever been a part of..."

Kanaan also told John Oreovicz of ESPN, "In the middle of the race, I thought, 'Man, the fans must be loving it, so hopefully we can pack this place when we come back if we're going to keep racing like this. But for us, people have to understand how stressful it is. Obviously, we get paid, and we are who we are because we can do this, but we can't forget that we lost ‑‑ I lost my best friend [Dan Wheldon] in exactly the same way in 2011.

After the race talking to Kevin Lee on air, Kanaan said, "It's a new (aero) package so we keep guessing. We guessed it on the wrong side. I think it was a great race for the fans but, you know, I get criticized a lot when I talk about these kind of things but people aren't in the race car to see 215 mph doing this. I would like you to try, the people who criticize us. It's tough, stressful, and it makes you wonder if you want to keep doing stuff like that. Hopefully we can get together and create a better solution and move on."

Sage Karam
Sage Karam told the media after the race, "It was pack racing, which is difficult. It's a battle and you're in survival mode."


Juan Pablo Montoya
Championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya told the media after the race, "Honestly, I was not a fan of the racing we saw today. What I told Indycar yesterday was that we shouldn't be racing like this. This is full pack racing and, sooner or later, somebody is going to get hurt. We don't need to be doing this. It was a hell of a show and we did what we needed to do."

Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media

Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden told the media after the race, "Everyone was using four lanes. It's a lot of tight quarters, it was dicey racing so we just got together and kind of got caught out."


Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud told the media after the race, ".... But I'll be honest, I am not a fan of this kind of racing. We don't need to run in a pack at over 220 mph. There is so much drafting in those cars, you get luck if there is a hole. You slice through the hole and you push people out of the draft. It is just not safe racing. That is my personal opinion."

Pagenaud also tweeted this:




Roger Penske
Team owner Roger Penske spoke mid-race with Kelly Stavast of NBC Sports, "I think it's great racing and it shows the quality of drivers running this close together lap after lap with no yellows; we're hoping for a little rest for these guys. It's great racing out there and everyone is taking care of each other and our guys are up front."


Will Power
Will Power told the media after the race, "When you have pack race like what we had today, you have to take a lot of risks to gain track position. As exciting as it is, it's intense at the same time. I'm just glad that no one got hurt out there and that everybody is OK,"

Power also said on the NBC Sports broadcast, "You've been around racing a long time, so you know what real racing is. And that ain't real racing, is it? And it doesn't require talent. (Juan Pablo) Montoya, Simon (Pagenaud) and myself, we told them from the beginning of the weekend that this would be a pack race, we promise you. And they said, 'No way.' They did not want to listen, and now this."

John Oreovicz of ESPN asked Power what it would take for Indycar to listen, and Power said, "Someone to die. That's what happened last time. Poor old Dan (Wheldon) lost his life, and they don't react until someone is seriously injured or into the catch fence."

Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media

Graham Rahal
Graham Rahal, who won the race, told the media after the race, "Man I haven't been four wide in six or seven years. It makes you nervous for sure. You trust the guys.... It was a hairy race."


Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato told the media after the race, "The last 25 laps was a crazy race, three wide and sometimes four wide, which I enjoyed myself."


Paul Tracy
Paul Tracy, the commentator on the broadcast, said during the race, "If you don't like this kind of racing, there is something wrong with you. This is about as good as it gets in terms of Indycar racing. It is fast, it is competitive, you can't pull away, guys are going two, three wide. What more can you ask for?"



Is there anyone on this list you agree or disagree with? Share your thoughts with me!

-Matthew Hickey

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