INDIANAPOLIS – I wanted to get a full nights sleep and digest what had happened on Saturday to put my thoughts together on what the Verizon IndyCar Series should do if James Hinchcliffe secured a seat for next Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network). Part of me says let him race and if he does find a ride, nothing in the rulebook states that he can’t. Plus, it’s not like the series and the biggest race in the world is in any position to not have him in it anyways.
Hinchcliffe, is a major ambassador for the sport. I would think Honda has plenty of commercial slots bought for the May 27 race to air promos of Hinchcliffe live on ABC. It’s not a good look that he wouldn’t be in the race while being promoted on TV. Knowing ABC, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities to see Hinch’s Honda Days commercial during the race too. Also, if you pull people worldwide and ask them to name any current INDYCAR driver, it’s likely one of the first names that come to mind would be Hinchcliffe’s.
Now, I get that making the Indy 500 isn’t a popularity contest. It’s like the most popular kid in school not having enough credits to graduate but because he’s the face of the school and popular with the student body that they let him or her walk in the ceremony anyways. The race is bigger and better than that to allow that to happen. But, in this day and age of racing, they NEED Hinchcliffe in this race.
Plus, Arrow is a major sponsor and partner of the series. They NEED them happy and NEED their colors circling the track in front of 300,000+ fans in person and millions more on TV. It does the series no good to see that car idle in a hauler on race day.
While I get you delusional traditionalists will point to 2011 and 1995 and 1992 and any other year and say tough luck, I will kindly point out that if we want to get like we were in the “glory days” then we have to change some of the ways first. I’m not saying to outlaw bumping forever and I’m not saying we need participation trophies here, but what I am saying is that in this day and age of racing it is far different than it was in say 1995. We can’t be so naïve to think so. We want to get to the levels that we had in 1995 right? Well, you can’t just teleport yourself and think sending Hinchcliffe home is going to get us there.
But, if you want Bump Day and I agree on a front that it is exciting and something the series needs down the road, you can’t let Hinchcliffe race next Sunday. You absolutely can’t. It ruins the full integrity of qualifying. It ruins the integrity of this year’s Bump Day. It ruins everything we witnessed and every ounce of drama that ensued on Saturday. It says that no matter what, we’re getting in anyways.
Now, nothing against Hinch because I do feel he did earn the right to be in, he can’t race. As much as Honda, Arrow, SPM, IMS, INDYCAR, the fan base and everything in between needs him to suit up and race on May 27, it now can’t happen. This is the decision they made when they announced that they’d bump. I get that in the past other drivers have bought their ways back in, but that was when there were tons of cars not making the field. When you only have two drivers miss the race and 50-percent of them get their way back in, it screams the toddler that gets told no then goes to the other parent and gets told yes.
It’s a bad look.
This is what you fans wanted and now you must pay the consequences. Because the consequences far outweigh the greater good of the series’ future here. It a nearsighted short term gain that could have monumental losses in the near future.