Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo

Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes Indy 500 should never have guaranteed starting positions

Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Like many viewers watching last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 “Bump Day” on NBC, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was captivated by the drama.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedule

He also believes INDYCAR should not follow NASCAR’s path of “Chartered Teams” locking up positions in the major races; such as the Daytona 500. That has taken away the excitement and drama of the Daytona Duels.

“Not trying to get myself in the weeds here, but I think Indy could look at the history of NASCAR and how it has changed the excitement for some of the Duels and qualifying,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports.com. “I would not go in that direction. If I was in control of things, I would not pull those levers to have guaranteed spots. The thrill of Bump Day and the battle for the final row, increased the value of Sunday and viewership for Sunday. It taught people about other drivers and teams. We don’t learn those things if you don’t see them going through that battle and experience.

“I thought it was a tremendous win for the people that want to keep things at Indy as they are.”

Earnhardt, who is part of NBC’s crew for Sunday���s telecast of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, believes the way it all played out created a storyline that enhances the interest in the 500-Mile Race.

“I experienced the drama before with Bump Day that has happened here in this race in the past, but I thought it was symbolic with the conversation going on about guaranteed spots,” Earnhardt said. “For the folks who are the traditionalists who believe you have to earn your way in, it was a great day for those folks and their argument. Fernando Alonso and how that story played out and his reaction to not making it, I thought he handled it like the champion he is. All of that was interesting.

“The little teams beating the big teams was pretty cool. It created some really exciting stuff and did nothing but build excitement in the race.

“Even though Alonso is not in the race, I’m just as interested, or more interested, than I was before. Them not being in the race didn’t change it for me. If anything, that whole drama and how it played out made me more excited to see the event.”

Earnhardt is attending his first Indianapolis 500 in person. He will be part of NBC’s Indianapolis 500 Pre-race show along with Mike Tirico and 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.

Earnhardt will also drive the Pace Car to lead the 33-car starting lineup to the green flag to start the 103rdIndianapolis 500. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

 

Barber IndyCar iRacing results

Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Scott McLaughlin led the final six laps Saturday and finished 0.4241 seconds ahead of teammate Will Power to win the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

Scott Speed finished third behind the Team Penske drivers. Alex Palou and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five.

Click here for the full boxscore from Saturday’s IndyCar iRacing event at Barber Motorsports Park.

WINNER: Scott McLaughlin holds off teammate Will Power

WHAT DRIVERS SAID: Postrace reactions on social media

Other notable finishers:

Colton Herta (seventh), Robert Wickens (eighth), Jimmie Johnson (12th), Graham Rahal (14th), Alexander Rossi (22nd).

Sage Karam led a race-high 24 laps but retired from the 45-lap event because of a crash and finished 27th of 29 drivers.