Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wait, Sooo Who's Eligible?

UPDATE 2-23 11:11am: INDYCAR PR rep Amy Konrath says that the league is "working with our competition department to define the rules/criteria and will make that available at a later date."

Seven hours after INDYCAR made the $5 Million challenge official, former driver and current owner Jimmy Vasser tweeted,"Getting my car ready for the 5mil in Vegas!! But The league says they will pick 5 drivers from around the world. Non Indy. Define please..." You raise a good question, Jimmy. A very good question indeed.

First what we do know. Five drivers will be chosen from a pool of entrants with a yet to be determined mid-summer deadline. "We will create a selection committee and I mean, don't forget, we are also dealing with the integrity of our drivers, and we want to make sure that we select the selection committee that selects racers that are great and have an opportunity to win," said INDYCAR's CEO Randy Bernard. "It won't be for a one‑off type of Indy drivers. This is a challenge to showcase the sport of Indy car to other motorsports around the world, and try to attract a new audience and some new drivers and showcase how important, how tough it is to be an INDYCAR driver."

The official press release announcing the challenge reads, "...$5 million challenge to any professional race car driver not competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series". Talk about a grey area. Any professional race car driver not competing in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Okay, so Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simona De Silvestro and anybody else running full-time is out. Simple enough, but now it gets tricky.

Obviously their looking for the Jimmie Johnson's of the world. The Kyle Busch's and Kasey Kahne's are the target, but what if a Davey Hamilton or John Andrettt, who only competed part-time last season, want to come back and have a go at the $5 Million prize? Who's eligible?

By IZOD IndyCar Series drivers I assume Ed Carpenter, who's currently slated to run a partial season with Sarah Fisher Racing, is ineligible. But does that also mean that if, say, Jimmie Johnson wants to take on the challenge he can't run an oval warm up? Randy Bernard confirmed in a post-announcement teleconference that additional testing will be provided, but what if they want real time, race experience? Could Johnson or anybody else for that matter run a, or multiple Firestone Indy Lights races for open-wheel experience?

What about a Tony Stewart, Scott Sharp, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., or Juan Pablo Montoya who haven't piloted an IndyCar in several years, can they run?

What if A.J. Allmendinger wants to have a go at it? Although he raced, and raced well in Champ Car he's never competed in an INDYCAR sanctioned event. But, wait, do the newly merged historic stats count?

Michael Andretti, according to Marco Andretti has put a little thought into it. "Trying to talk dad into the 5mill! He seems interested :)," the 2006 Indianpolis 500 mile runner-up tweeted. Michael hasn't ran since the 2007 Indianapolis 500, is he an 'IZOD IndyCar Series driver"?

Currently without a ride for the season, I'm sure the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner in Dan Wheldon would have some offers for a Las Vegas ride. Does he meet the criteria?

Sooo, who's eligible?


Why just 5 if we can get the best there 4 it then so be it. Put 20 mill on the line for the 500 and see who all shows up. i bet it would shock u.

I think this challenge is aimed more at people like Simon Pagenaud, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kimi Raikonen, Joey Hand, and Travis Pastrana.

While I like all the guys mentioned in the article, none of them have the name recognition outside the sport to bring new eyeballs and that's what this idea is all about.

Seeing Mario run again would be something though. :)

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