Why IndyCar deserves more respect from the motorsport world

In the ten races held so far this year, IndyCar has seen eight different winners, 7 of those all coming in the first seven races before Graham Rahal became the first repeat winner in the second Detroit race. The competition in the series right now is fierce and competitive, and the series is surely entering a true golden era…

The IndyCar series is one of the most competitive racing series on the planet, yet never seems to receive the recognition that it deserves. The comments by several Formula 1 drivers regarding Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 run this year didn’t help matters, many taking a view that the series isn’t as competitive or as full of talent as Formula 1 is. And if you believe that to be the case, you could not be any further from the truth–the IndyCar series, its drivers and teams deserve so much more respect. Because right now, it is enjoying a truly golden era of competitiveness.

James Hinchcliffe, #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsport – Honda Source: Verizon IndyCar Series

Over the last few years, Formula 1 has seen domination by Mercedes, and only three teams have won races. The Silver Arrows themselves, Ferrari and Red Bull. In four years of Formula 1, only six drivers have won races. In IndyCar alone in 2014, the year the hybrid regulations came about in F1, 11 drivers took to the top step of the podium. And in the same four year period, 19 IndyCar drivers have won races. Eight IndyCar teams have also taken wins in that period as well, compared to the three in Formula 1. It is a staggering difference and highlights how ferociously competitive the series is.

This level of competition invariably results in super close racing, and it is on show at almost every race the series holds. You just need to see the closing laps to last year’s Firestone 600 in Texas to see how fierce the competition can be…

Crazy right? One of the closest finishes in IndyCar racing and certainly one of the most memorable. It goes to show the depth 0f talent on the grid, which is perhaps the best it has been for a long time this year. You have old masters like Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Sebastien Bourdais who have won multiple races and championships (although Castroneves has yet to win the title despite 23 wins and 80 podiums). Dixon is one of the greatest of all time: 4 titles, 40 wins, 91 podiums and 28 poles is a staggering achievement in such a competitive environment. Dixon also took a win and 3 podiums in the Champ Car era before the series merged with IRL to reform IndyCar. Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya returned to the series in 2014 and came oh so close to another title in 2015, and added another Indy 500 victory to his tally as well that year. Graham Rahal, a veteran from 2008 has had a career renaissance over the last two years and firmly established himself as a potential champion.

Alexander Rossi, #98 Andretti Herta Autosport – Honda Source: Verizon IndyCar Series

Then you have the young guns who are starting to make a name for themselves. Andretti’s Alexander Rossi won the Indy 500 at his first attempt last year and this year has shown incredible speed and racecraft. He has had rotten luck since that win, losing out on win chances at Pocono last season and Long Beach and Texas this year, and had perhaps the best chance of anyone to win this years Indy 500 before a refuelling issue occurred. Josef Newgarden is the ‘American dream’ kid, who took three wins with Carpenter/Fisher Hartman racing before joining Penske in 2017 and taking his first win with the legendary team just three races in at Barber Motorsports park.

Reigning champion Simon Pagenaud, fan favourite James Hinchcliffe and dare devil Takuma Sato are also some of the other fantastic drivers the sport is featuring right now. And let’s not forget the bravery these guys showcase. 200 + mph on some of the most fierce oval circuits in the world, as well as challenging road and street courses sets these guys apart from the rest. Dixon’s crash at the Indy 500 this year highlights how dangerous and demanding the ovals can be. Despite his heavy crash and a sore ankle, Dixon took P2 and 8th place in Detroit just a week later, showing how tough these guys are.

Carlos Munoz, #14 ABC A.J. Foyt Racing – Chevrolet Source: Verizon IndyCar Series

To say that the series is uncompetitive or that the drivers are not as talented as their F1 counterparts is a massive snub. IndyCar produces some of the best open wheel racing in the world and has spawn some of the best drivers in the world as well. The likes of Hamilton do the series a massive disservice when they claim that Alonso could qualify so high at Indy due to those guys lacking talent. Well let me say this. Put Scott Dixon in a Mercedes. I guarantee Hamilton will get one of the biggest shocks of his life…