In a city known for its bold gambles the IZOD IndyCar Series has placed the biggest bet of all for the October 16 season-finale. IndyCar is betting $5 million that any driver from another racing series can’t beat the best IndyCar drivers in the world in the IZOD IndyCar Series World Championship.
While there has been plenty of interest from top-name drivers in various forms of racing the time has come to “Put your money where your mouth is” if anyone is going to take up IndyCar’s challenge. Just like a high-stakes Poker Game many are reviewing their hands deciding whether to up the ante or to fold.
But there will be plenty of bold gambling entering that race as Dario Franchitti of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Will Power of Team Penske and Scott Dixon of Target/Chip Ganassi Racing are locked in a tight battle for the $1 million IZOD IndyCar Series title.
The IZOD IndyCar Series is off to the West Coast for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. The next time the series heads west will be for the season showdown at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Heading into Sunday’s race three-time IndyCar champion Franchitti leads Power by 47 points and Dixon by 73. Oriol Servia of Newman Haas Racing lurks back in fourth place 135 points out of the lead and Tony Kanaan of KV Racing is fifth 148 points out.
The battle for the IndyCar season championship is annually the closest and most competitive of any form of racing and that is reason enough for the bright lights of Las Vegas to shine on this event. Throw in a $5 million bet that any top driver from another form of racing can’t come in and beat IndyCar at its own game simply raises the stakes even higher, focusing the attention on what promises to be a great championship finale.
“It’s our job to make IndyCar top of mind,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. “I want to make sure our strategy is very well designed. I’m trying to bring the credibility of our sport – just as hard as it is for Juan Montoya and Sam Hornish and others to go to NASCAR it’s just as hard for NASCAR drivers to come over to our sport. My point is now that we are unified since 2008 we showcase the best drivers in the world. I don’t care if you are an F1 driver – our guys would lick their chops to race against an F1 driver on an oval. This is a $5 million challenge. What it does for us is build perception of the credibility of how good our drivers are.
“They are the fastest most versatile drivers in the world.”
So far NASCAR’s Kasey Kahne has expressed interest pending approval from his current NASCAR team at Red Bull Racing and his future team owner – Rick Hendrick. Travis Pastrana was ready to take the bet but he broke his ankle while competing in the X-Games. And former CART champion Alex Zanardi would love to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar.
“The five guys that we choose will be five guys that help our sport,” Bernard said. “We will ask anyone that is interested to fill an application out. A committee will analyze that and the top five guys that we believe the fans will want to see race against our guys will be chosen. If we don’t get any that doesn’t change our belief. Our storyline will not change on our network show. It will have an emphasis on the World Championship but it will focus on our drivers battling for the IZOD IndyCar Series crown. If we have some great drivers going for the $5 million it will help everything.
“I’ll take that bet every day of the week.”
So, any takers? It’s time for these drivers to either show their hand or cash in their chips.