The debate surrounding full time NTT IndyCar Series drivers possibly been given guaranteed entry to the Indianapolis 500 rages on. The Indianapolis 500 is the showcase event of the NTT IndyCar Series schedule just like the Monaco Grand Prix is for Formula One and the 24 Hours of LeMans is for the World Endurance Championship.
As we mentioned in a recent article having the full-time IndyCar Series drivers locked into guaranteed places in the field for the Indianapolis 500 makes commercial sense particularly with big sponsors like PNC Bank, NTT DATA, AuotNation, Arrow Electronics and Advanced Auto Parts involved in the series in a big way.
When it comes to the excitement factor of Armed Forces qualifying day there would still be Bump Day and all of the full time drivers would still have to qualify for the race however if their was a situation like last year with the Mayor of HinchTown instead of him missing out on running the 500 and looking at buying his way into the field, any full time driver who doesn’t set a representative qualifying speed would start from the back of the field.
In future that would mean that we could have a situation where the big three teams have to fight their way through the field from the back of the field just like Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya did in 2015 to win the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 having come from 30th to take victory.
Guaranteed spots on the Indianapolis 500 grid wouldn’t devalue qualifying or the race itself it would ensure that the season long title battle continues for the championship and we would still have double points for the race.
When James Hinchcliffe missed out on a spot on the grid for the 500 last season it had an adverse affect on his championship despite going on to win the Iowa Corn 300, this is something that is not right and should not have been allowed to happen. IndyCar have made slight changes to qualifying for this year’s race after what happened last season.