MAVTV 500: Despite being nerve-racking to crazy, drivers glad safety won out

3 Comments

Although it’s been two days since the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, a number of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers are not going to soon forget one of the wildest races the series has seen in a long time.

“That was one of the most nerve-racking races I’ve ever been a part of,” said race runner-up Tony Kanaan.

Third-place finisher Marco Andretti readily agreed with Kanaan’s assessment.

“It’s definitely crazy; pack racing’s always like that,” Andretti said. “You’ve got guys that just don’t want to back off, guys going forward, guys going backward, inside, outside.

“I find it quite fun but it is extremely dangerous, but that’s what we sign up for. We put on a heck of a show for the fans, that’s for sure.”

While it was a heck of a show for the fans both in attendance and those that watched the race on NBCSN, Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud would prefer safety over spectacle.

“I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of this kind of racing,” said Pagenaud, who finished ninth after starting on pole. “We don’t need to run in a pack at over 220 mph. There is so much drafting in those cars, you get lucky if there is a hole. You slice through the hole and you push people out of the draft. It is just not safe racing. That is my personal opinion.”

Added 20-year-old Sage Karam, who earned a career-best fifth-place finish and led a lap (five in total) for the first time in his budding IndyCar career, “It’s a battle and you’re in survival mode.”

Perhaps defending series champion Will Power, who himself was one of those caught up in a wreck Saturday, put it best.

“When you have a pack race like what we had (Saturday), you have to take a lot of risks to gain track position,” Power said. “As exciting as it is, it’s intense at the same time.

“I’m just glad that no one got hurt out there and that everybody is OK.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski