Bad Idea: Penske and Ganassi Want Guaranteed Qualifying Spots At Indy 500 For Series Full-Timers

Bad Idea: Penske and Ganassi Want Guaranteed Qualifying Spots At Indy 500 For Series Full-Timers

(Photo credit: IndyCar) – This is one of the biggest, “SERIOUSLY?!” moments we have had in a while around here because it’s just one of those things where the idea, the people involved, and the whole mentality seems so jacked up we cannot believe that it has made it this far. Basically Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, the two premier owners in the IndyCar series want the series to guarantee qualifying spots for the teams that run the whole racing season. Perhaps the biggest story of the 2018 Indy 500 and a place where this idea gained more steam was when James Hinchcliffe failed to qualify for the race and then decided with his team that they would not buy one of the other spots from a smaller (and qualified) team. That whole buying the spot thing is another kettle of fish but this is about making the race itself.

With about 20-22 full time teams and more than 30 spots available on race day, this is not a situation where 90 cars show up and all of these dedicated series regulars get pushed out. This is some pure protectionism that runs counter to the very nature of racing itself and we’d have to believe runs counter to every fiber in the being of both Ganassi and Penske. These are likely two guys who cry about kids getting participation trophies and now they looking for the greatest participation trophy of all, a guaranteed spot into the biggest race of the year. What?!

Of course this is business related and we get that. The Indy 500 is the central pillar in the sponsorship packages of the majority of the teams on the tour. Without that race and without participation in that race, things change drastically for teams and not for the better. It likely make selling sponsors easier when you can guarantee them that you’ll be in the show when the time comes in May but holy smoke, this would be the last straw in the dismantling of the Indy 500’s mystique. The fact that Hinch did not qualify was shocking and listen, we were not rooting against the guy, no one roots against that guy, but it proved the point that it CAN happen and that’s what sport needs to be exciting. That a guy CAN miss the show, he CAN come back from three laps down, he CAN spin and win. It has to be done on ability. That’s what we’re all watching. The ability of people doing things that we ourselves don’t think we can do. (I’m perfectly happy telling you that I’d never have the guts to drive around that place at 200+ mph!)

Roger Penske is one of the most iconic figures in the history of American racing. A guy who has won everywhere and won everything. Done things to win that others never even conceived, worked harder than virtually anyone in racing to build and empire and a legacy the likes of which will never be duplicated. How is it THAT guy who’s trying to remove risk and reward from the Indy 500 qualifying process? What the hell, Roger?

As one guy on Twitter said, “If John Force has the risk of missing the show every week, these guys should too.” He’s right. Penske and Ganassi agree on guaranteed spots in Indy 500

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16 thoughts on “Bad Idea: Penske and Ganassi Want Guaranteed Qualifying Spots At Indy 500 For Series Full-Timers

  1. john

    Next step is to stop the race after so many laps and give the teams points credit….no…sorry, that’s NASCAR. If TV coverage ever ends, both will be out of business.

  2. Tubbed Pacecar

    Lohnes: Look @ your calendar, April 1 was more than two weeks ago!! lol

    Sounds like another case of the WEALTHY thinking they’re entitled……..

    If anyone’s hired shoe doesn’t make the cut, then the team, as a whole failed, weather it be engineers, mechanics, etc….but weather you race a full season, or only have the budget to run several events per season, your performance ON THAT DAY, should determine whether you get to be on the grid or not. The number of digits in your bank account, or number of races you ran during a season may effect your season results, but should not have any bearing on your qualifying position for any individual race.

    I’m still amazed they had the cajones to even propose something like this publicly, but I expect there’s going to be blowback, and rightly so!!

  3. Mark Watkins

    If Rog and Chip are looking for a great way to torpedo their series meager public interest, they found it. Any time you reduce or remove uncertainty in motor sports, you just as quickly remove specators and TV viewers. C’mon Rog, you know this.

  4. bob

    A long time ago, I don’t remember what year it was, the last race of the NASCRAP season, back when I watched most of their races, a couple of the top teams at the time, missed the race, and went home early. The following year is when they implemented something addressing this very same issue. That is when they first started going off the rails. If you want to be in the race, go fast and don’t crash. Back them the same argument was used about sponsor this and that. If you miss the race, to bad, live with it and move on, including the sponsors. This is off topic but I think the 4 wide crap is a joke.

  5. Stu

    Bob, I agree 100% with you. Asscar is a total joke. I have gone to two 4wide in Charlotte with my daughter. We both agree it’s our last year going in two weeks, she hates it, I am old school and can’t get into it.

  6. Gary D

    The rich and well heeled in this sport already have a huge advantage. They don’t need guaranteed spots to further their edge. Next they will want a half lap advantage at the start so that they don’t have to actually race with the commoners.

  7. Ronald D Huegli

    This goes back to the 90’s when CART teams wanted to show up and IRL teams were given guaranteed spots and the “other guy’s”-CART had tpo battle it out for the remaining 3 or four positions. Yes it is protectionism and really does fly in the face of open competition but this just goes to show you how competitive IndyCar racing has become. When the giants are concerned for their position that tells you how competitive the series has become!

  8. Ted

    In our lifetimes motorsports will cease to be because of ideas like this. F1 sucks, money pit full of cars that most of us could lap within seconds of what the current drivers do because of all the onboard electrics, what a joke. NASCAR has been on life support for how long, NHRA has become the Kings and Serfs of racing and even AMA/MotoAmerica took a kick to the teeth because fans are tired of boardroom racing and politics. I haven’t watched Indy since the 80’s when it became more like watching slot cars, NASCAR to me died with the introduction of the cookie cutter bodies with drivetrains we could not order in the dealer’s showrooms, and the last Winternats I went to 1995 started my dislike of NHRA when it became more about expensive tickets and a program geared to teams, and over the top pro show at the expense of the sportsman classes. Here in Canada when equestrian enthusiasts and whiny neighbours starting to moan about motorsports look at what became of our racing, tracks were gone, done, finished. Entitlement, personal wealth and whining all go hand in hand in motorsports and it’s killing the show here in north america, we need to step back and get with a grassroots program for all these shows that start firstly with no teams, no team orders, stock cars that look like what we can buy with no more stupid playoffs/yellow flag racing/talentless drivers who buy their way onto teams, one mag/proper bodywork/1/4 mile in NHRA and toss that stupid 4 lane racing, and a multilevel kids to adult racing program for motorcycle roadracing that Wayne Rainey deserves to see come to fruition. F1 for some reason has become more of a look at me as a fan thing because the racing certainly doesn’t draw people, bunch of guys and teams bickering on Twitter and the same ol’ dog and pony show nose to tail no passing each and every race. Watch ice freeze and you’ll get the same thrill. As a lifelong fan/racer/instructor of motorsports both 2 and 4 wheel I hate seeing what these shows have become. It’s up to us to let the powers that be know that we don’t like what they’re doing, write letters to the governing bodies, don’t buy tickets/t-shirts/beer cozies and they’ll get the message. Put your arms up if you’ve noticed a lack of kids getting involved in any of these sports. Monied parents and their kids have an easier time and that isn’t a slag, just the truth and part of me has always envied that a tiny bit but such is life. The reality is there is a of talent that stalls on the way up because of how expensive racing is. Hinch is a great driver but where would he be on the grid with an underfunded team with second rate equipment? Penske? Think Roger has ever had to think twice about buying parts to stay competitive? And we see that, it’s obvious. Costs are what is going to define these motorsports for years to come. Two of the things we could learn from is short track oval racing/1/4 mile dirt tracks and flat track motorcycle racing, cheap enough that the family can go racing and sponsors are supportive and always have been, no lack of fans because you can park/watch/have a dog and a beer all without going penniless for the next week and then get to go on track and meet the racers. Are you listening major series? NASCAR? Where are your fans? NHRA, how about the empty bleachers at Pomona or the fans leaving the bleachers when the sportsman classes come up? MotoAmerica fans and sponsors, where are you? Some of the best racing within driving distance and yet you’ve never really come back since the early 2000’s. Sorry about the long winded post Brian, but I have really seen the decline over the years, especially when I was announcing NHRA and the brackets/Friday night drags at Mission Raceway Park. Even when I’ve been in the paddock for MotoGP and the talent cups for the kids the costs are beyond astronomical, and if you want a good article I could write up what it costs those kids and their families to participate in the race schools in Europe after having seen it up close with my buddy’s kid racing over there, holy you know what is it expensive….we’re close to code blue across the board in the US and Canada and I’m bummed about it.

  9. orange65

    Same thing as NASCAR’s charter system. Whats the big deal? Unless you like real racing with real competition…

  10. Don

    This is ALMOST as stupid as NASCAR stopping the race twice, for no reason, and giving out points(??). But really why would someone like Penske even think this was OK? Sad, I quit watching NASCAR until about 10 laps to go because nothing before that matters with “Stages”. I recently started watching Indy again but if they start this program I am done with it also. Maybe Duck can have weekly races in the future?

  11. RK - no relation

    April fools joke? It must be; April 1 was 17 days ago, and this is 17 times more retarded than an April fools joke

  12. cpr

    The Captain pushed ideals like “The Unfair Advantage” and the pushrod Ilmor/Mercedes…

    Ganassi tests in a tunnel in PA…

    Getting soft in old age or April Fools?

    Either way, it tarnishes the legacy of both.

  13. Bobby J

    I didn’t believe it at the time, but everything they taught me in Sunday School was true.

  14. blownflattie

    INDY(Honda-Chev motors only) / NASCAR with unrecognizable bodies
    and some Spec-Engines / NHRA with plastic door-wedge funny cars
    and Nitro only legal for millionaires / and all the aforementioned
    sanctioning bodies pretty much banning and hating HOT RODDERS
    …I see commercial motorsports on it’s last legs.
    I’ll still support my local drag strip / and local circle track.

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