INDIANAPOLIS – The NTT INDYCAR Series is bar none the most competitive in the world. The difference in the top of the field to the bottom is minuscule. A tenth of a second here or a tenth of a second there could be the difference in first or 15th.
That’s why Qualifying is so key these days. The drivers are all just so damn good. That’s just making it tougher and tougher to pass. With on track competitiveness coming down to tenths and thousandths of a second and points battles to the extreme smallest of margins, qualifying now a days can make it break careers.
Don’t believe me? Check this out.
31 of the last 34 Indy Car races have been won from a driver starting in the top 4 Rows. Furthermore, 26 of the last 28 have been won from a top eight starting spot. Nine of the last 13 have been won from a top three starting spot including the last six.
Now, you have to add to the list on how much this field has gained more strength over the last week in-a-half. Nothing against any of the drivers who are suiting up and racing in next weekend’s Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but just look at the rides the three most recent signings are taking for the short term.
Oliver Askew has concussion like symptoms and is out of his seat for the doubleheader at IMS. Helio Castroneves is replacing him in the No. 7 Chevrolet.
Zach Veach is out of his No. 26 Honda for the rest of the season as that ride is now open for 2021 too. James Hinchcliffe will be in that ride for the final three races of 2020.
Tony Kanaan/Dalton Kellett’s split time in the No. 14 Chevrolet is going to go to Sebastien Bourdais starting at Indy and lasting all the way through at least the 2021 season.
Castroneves, Bourdais and Hinchcliffe.
Castroneves has three Indy 500 triumphs and 30 career wins. That’s one shy of 10th all-time. Bourdais has 37 career wins which ranks seventh ever. He has four series championships which ranks third only behind AJ Foyt (7) and Scott Dixon (5). Castroneves also sits fourth (50) in pole awards with Bourdais in seventh (34).
Castroneves is third in career second place finishes with 41, sixth (93) in podiums and tied for fourth (141) in career top fives.
These guys have rides now.
Hinchcliffe is a fast star too. The ride at Andretti makes sense not just for the remainder of 2020 but for the entirety of the 2021 season too.
These are three popular veteran drivers taking over. Now, look at the rides that they are taking over and you can see where this is only helping the bottom line.
Out of the bottom six entrants that are competing on a full time basis in 2020, half of those rides are going to these drivers. Askew, was 18th in entrant points, Veach is 20th and the 14 car in 22nd. Only Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet (23rd), Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Honda (21st) and Charlie Kimball’s No. 4 Chevrolet (19th) rank with them.
This much talent is taking over rides that were near the bottom of the entrant points standings. Doesn’t that bolster the series up even higher? Again, nothing against who these drivers are replacing, but their stats are where they are for a reason.
Also, you have to factor in Conor Daly taking over the 20 car for the rest of the way which further helps this car too.
The bottom is rising to the top but the top is equally as talented too. Something has to give which is why this is great for INDYCAR fans.
Oh yeah, we have a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion getting added to this mix in 2021 in Jimmie Johnson. The future is bright.