Just read this AP column by Jenna Fryer this morning, and I have a few thoughts and responses.
First, Danica Patrick coming back to race the 500 would not generate NEAR the amount of buzz you think it would. Second, “the series seems to cater to it’s homegrown fans, and unfortunately often settles for mediocrity”???? You can’t be serious? Yes, it is an AMERICAN open wheel racing series. Ironically, your statement in quotes up there is more of a description for NASCAR than IndyCar. Your “valuable gauge of what’s trending” is clearly affected by your bias.
With regards to his rookie orientation, he will still be required to get up to speed as a typical rookie will. (If he isn’t, this is the first time I have heard about that. I have reached out to IndyCar for comment) Just as Busch did two years ago. Unfortunately he will have to do it on a much tighter schedule.
Why is it ok for Alonso to skip the Monaco GP? Because he wants to…. That should be more than enough of a reason. Luckily, he has an executive who will allow him the opportunity.
Now, I think the one item I was most disappointed in was your statement about Stefan Wilson. While others have painted him a hero, you paint him as an abused driver who was beat down by the series to give up his engine. Now, I don’t have any inside sources at Andretti, but I have seen the backend of some last minute deals. Here is what I am guessing was the case. Stefan’s budget was probably the tightest of the group. Which is why it hadn’t been announced yet. Crew hadn’t been hired yet, and none of the t’s were crossed or the i’s dotted. So, as a driver, you would feel the stress of hope. Stefan’s hopes have been dashed many times in the past few years. So knowing he has a program in place for next season, with none of those worries? Hell, I know MANY drivers that would jump at that prospect. I know Jay Howard was most likely relieved to be seated in Stewarts entry early enough to not have to worry about that shortened time frame. While Stefan is a kind soul and a gentleman, he’s not weak minded, and if he had a better option for his sponsors, he would have not stepped out of his ride. Instead, what he did was make an exceptionally smart BUSINESS decision. This is, after all, a business.
I’ll take Fernando over Hamilton any day of the week.
How does it benefit IndyCar? What happens when Alonso get’s out of the car after entering turn 1 at 230MPH? You have HUNDREDS of drivers sitting on their thumbs waiting for their 20 Million $ grand prix dream to come true, and a LOT of them see Alonso as their hero. So if their hero laughs and smiles with the giddy excitement of a rookie in an open wheel racing series because of the RUSH of racing at the most famed racetrack in history, don’t you think even for a moment that the potential for their “American dream” to become a reality, seems a bit more plausible? There is nothing but an upside to this situation.
That said, if you think Alonso isn’t doing this because he actually wants to race the Indianapolis 500, then you sell him short as well. Bucket list items for racing drivers are few and far between. He has the opportunity to make one of these things happen.
And, to be fair, we all know, Jenna, that if he had chosen to race the Coca Cola 600 instead, you would be praising him like it was the second coming.