I take flack here and there for being an INDYCAR apologist.
On the contrary, I prefer to believe that I’m simply capable of looking at things with unbiased objectivity.
For example, there are plenty of people throwing INDYCAR under the bus today because of the errors of judgment that have led to the chicane being reinserted into the front straight at Baltimore. Many of these people are doing so simply because they are opportunists — they’ll take any chance to drag INDYCAR through the mud and run with it because of old vendettas, etc.
Far be it from me to claim that INDYCAR is never wrong. But in this case, I’m able to take a step back and see that there was simply no way for the Series to come out ahead in this situation.
After last year, the decision was made to take the chicane out because it was slowing the cars needlessly when they could have handled the bump over the tracks perfectly fine.
This year, the Series decided to go into the event with the chicane removed. Unfortunately, they failed to take into account that this year’s car is faster and lighter, and mayhem ensued.
However, had INDYCAR gone into the event with the chicane installed, there’s not a person on Earth who can convince me that the complaints wouldn’t have been just as loud. “Why are they being so conservative?!”, the detractors would have cried. “We want to see speed! We want to see risk!” Et cetera, et cetera.
The only way this situation could have been handled better, in my estimation, would have been to install the chicane for Friday with the very vocally expressed intention to remove it for Saturday if the drivers felt it was doable after testing the front straight with the new car. That would have given everyone a chance to feel things out more gently and consult under better circumstances.
But since that wasn’t done, there really isn’t anything anyone could have done to better handle the situation that was handed to them today. It’s a street course, after all — it’s not like there’s a way to test these things ahead of time. And the event is only in its second year. If we’re still having these issues in year three then there are more serious problems, but the hand-wringing over this is highly unjustified given the circumstances.
And if your response to this situation is “burn all the street courses”… enough. Relax, take a big-picture pill, and come join the thousands more people who attend street course events than ovals as we work toward establishing a long-term future for INDYCAR.