May 27, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
At times, race fans and observers can be incapable of living in the moment and/or appreciating what they’ve just seen. A case in point: in the immediate aftermath of an outcome like yesterday’s finish at the Indianapolis 500, there were enough tweets and comments on social media and message boards that “the finish sucked because there was no green-white-checkered!”
And as such, the discussion over whether this race should be guaranteed an attempt at a green-flag finish has ensued.
Facts are facts, and yes, the unfortunate fact here is that this was the fourth consecutive Indianapolis 500 that finished under yellow. There is visceral opinion on both sides of the argument about whether this is a good thing, that the race went to its scheduled, unaltered distance of 200 laps, 500 miles, or a bad thing, that it ended under yellow and should have been extended.
Firstly, no rule in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook allows for a green-white-checkered. A quick clean done after Graham Rahal’s crash ensured this year’s 500 had a chance to end green with a lap 198 restart.
Secondly, frankly, for the Indianapolis 500 at least, a green-white-checkered adoption would be an unnecessary boondoggle that the race doesn’t need.
IndyCar can choose to do whatever it wants in terms of altering its season-long product to gain public consciousness beyond the “Indiana bubble” to which it largely resides.
But a race as built on tradition, that embraces tradition, and that almost places tradition ahead of the current year’s product, shouldn’t be altering its most sacred aspect – 500 means 500 – for the sake of pleasing a loud and vocal minority. Changing the race distance from anything other than 500 miles would be as big a slap to tradition as has ever occurred in this race’s 97-year history.
Safety risks could enter the equation as well, with a possible GWC outcome meaning a greater chance of more contact caused by drivers going for it even more than normal in a short amount of time, with open-cockpit cars and exposed wheels. There’s no counting how many extra accidents have occurred after the first GWC attempt in NASCAR, since its implementation.
The eventual last restart mattered, race winner Tony Kanaan admitted, because he knew the potential for another accident almost immediately after the race restarted on lap 198. He knew he had to go for it at that point. The sense of urgency was there, and the race fans benefited as a result knowing that a lead change after the restart was imminent.
Perhaps the most popular 500-mile race win before Kanaan’s, the late Dale Earnhardt’s at the 1998 Daytona 500, also ended under yellow. Earnhardt held off Bobby Labonte in a final run to the line before taking the yellow flag and lapping the final circuits under caution. The win wasn’t “devalued” because it came under yellow; nor, in this author’s opinion, were the wins by Dario Franchitti (2010 and 2012) and the late Dan Wheldon (2011) the last three years in Indy.
The higher frequency of races ending under yellow made a green-white-checkered option for other races a discussion point for IndyCar last year, but really, it owed to abnormalities and higher percentages – this was a topic I wrote about in a piece last year, for RACER magazine.
This Monday afternoon, there are opposing viewpoints on the topic from USA Today’s Jeff Gluck (pro-GWC) and ESPN’s Ed Hinton (anti-GWC, at least for this race). The IndyCar drivers themselves, though, said tradition should trump show in terms of a GWC outcome at Indy.
“I think we should consider that, but I’m all about the tradition in this place,” said Kanaan. “That was never done here. And I’m not saying that because I won under yellow, because I lost plenty of them under yellow, as well.”
Kanaan did admit that “you want to see a finish under green” and said he’d need further thinking about the topic, but was still leaning more against it. Defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, meanwhile, was a little more definitive when asked about it on Sunday.
“This is Indy, there’s a certain way things are done,” said Hunter-Reay, who finished third. “If tradition is tradition, we don’t materialize results, we don’t try to produce results out of green-white-checkereds. It can be a bit gimmicky.”
Jul 26, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT
The Hoonigan man dominates in the North Carolina dirt, while Nelson Piquet Jr. increases his lead in the GRC championship.
Jul 26, 2014, 2:59 PM EDT
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Jul 26, 2014, 2:53 PM EDT
Regarded as one of the most physically demanding dirt bike races in the world, the Red Bull Hare Scramble is an endurocross event unlike any other. Watch it on NBC at 3:00 PM E.T.
Jul 26, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT
Coming off last week’s win, is Eli Tomac ready to reel off a few more victories before the end of the season?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
The sport continues to grow with races in Mexico and Azerbaijan, but will they prove to be hits?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Red Bull team principal tells the media to be more positive.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT
CLICK HERE for stream links to the fifth round of the 2014 Red Bull GRC season.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Starting his qualifying lap just before time ran out in the final round, Busch earns the pole for today’s Lilly Diabetes 250 with a lap of 179.888 mph.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Vijay Mallya very happy with the form of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg in 2014.
Jul 26, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Finn challenged the decision not to run again in Q1, and was proven right when Jules Bianchi knocked him out of qualifying.
Jul 26, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS – When Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard 400 is in the rearview mirror, we’re once again likely to hear significant griping about “did you see all the empty seats at Indy?”
Jul 26, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT
Petty: “Our main deal is not to run NASCAR. Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.”
Jul 26, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Hamilton calls on Mercedes to improve the reliability of his car following yet another problem during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Williams driver continuing his run of good form despite the car not suiting the Hungaroring circuit.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT
Four-time Brickyard 400 champion leads an abbreviated “Happy Hour” with a lap of 189.298 mph.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Defending world champion matches his best qualifying result of the season in Hungary.
Jul 26, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
Ferrari driver delighted to qualify so well at the Hungaroring, and is now focusing on a good start in tomorrow’s race.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT
German driver would have preferred a straight fight with Lewis Hamilton, but delighted all the same to bag pole in Hungary.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:10 AM EDT
Crazy qualifying session in Hungary ends with Rosberg at the front once again.
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