In the days leading up to the Indy 500, we've seen more headlines about infractions and power struggles than about the drivers actually competing for a shot at glory.
It may be dramatic, but hype is hype, and seeing how it all plays out will be just as fun as it is to speculate now.
In the last few weeks, there has been substantial hubbub surrounding the race—primarily, the $275,000 in fines issued to 13 teams that will be competing on Sunday. But after all, this is racing, where drama is practically a league-wide requirement.
As A.J. Foyt told the Associated Press on Monday:
You are never happy with a racing association, they've all got problems. I don't care if it's NASCAR or its SCCA, or whoever. Somebody is always going to be upset with something.
First and foremost, there have long been rumblings that IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard needs to be ousted from his position after being too tough on owners.
That particular storyline temporarily took a backseat to the Bump Day sanctions issue. In the aftermath of Sunday's pre-qualifying inspection, IndyCar issued a list of 18 infractions to 13 teams, a one-day record according to track historian Donald Davidson, as reported by the AP. Some teams fought the accusations—particularly Penske team president Tim Cindric, who insists Ryan Briscoe's car didn't have the flagged brake pads that decrease friction.
For an explanation, we circle back to the No. 1 source of drama, Bernard, whom Briscoe slyly blamed for the allegedly unwarranted sanctions. He told the AP:
It’s surprising because we haven’t seen much of that [fining] in the past. But I think we are seeing a new guy in charge of the rules now, and maybe in the past, some things have been let past, and I think it’s good that teams are being penalized for not abiding by the rules 100 percent.
Beyond the sanctions, there's concern over the fact that this year's race will boast a full field of 33 cars, good news for the speedway CEO but bad news for drivers like Jean Alesi, who told the AP he feels "unsafe" on a crowded track with so many faster cars.
In the end, the race will happen, and there will be 33 cars, and there will hopefully be a thrilling finish. Afterward, some of the drivers will keep complaining about the crowded field. Bernard will keep his job, and the owners will continue to whine about the way he enforces the rules until there's something else to do.
The show must go on, pre-race shenanigans or otherwise. The only thing the drama does is increase the anticipation.
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