As the checkered flag dropped on a historic Indianapolis 500, fans were proclaiming throughout social media on what an excellent race they had witnessed.
And they were right. New records for average speed, lead changes, and different leaders were all set.
Crowd and driver favorite Tony Kanaan took an incredible victory, but it was not without controversy. The 500 mile spectacle ended under caution, prompting NASCAR fans on Twitter who were watching the race to question the finish, going as far as to attempt to smudge the race’s legacy in racing lore.
Of course, a green-white-checkered finish would have been interesting, especially if there were three attempts. Both Kanaan and rookie Carlos Munoz passed restart leader Ryan Hunter-Reay before turn one. It certainly would have been incredible to see if Munoz or anybody else, such as Marco Andretti, could have moved up through the field.
But, a green-white-checkered finish should never be debated. Tradition will always trump tackiness, and that is exactly what the green-white-checkered “overtime” finish is. When NASCAR instituted the rule, it was simply pandering to fans because the racing at the end was not sufficient.
For IndyCar, it is a completely different story. The league is coming out of its struggles and needs to re-brand itself based on the on-track product, which delivered admirably Sunday. Although the overnight ratings have not yet been posted, there has to be a feeling of success for everybody involved.
A green-white-checkered finish not only would tarnish the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar, but would jeopardize a lot of teams. The DW12 chassis implemented last year was meant to level the playing field, but green-white-checkered finishes would jeopardize the underfunded teams the sanctioning body wants to protect, and needs to protect if it wishes to have robust fields in the future.
Although intense, the unnecessary wrecks avoided by having races end under caution benefit the sport.
“This is Indy, there’s a certain way things are done.” That’s what series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay said. Hunter-Reay was the leader on the last restart and finished third. He was the one bitten by not having overtime, and yet he told it like it is.
Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486