High-intensity pack racing infuriates some, enthralls others

The 500-mile contest at Auto Club Speedway provided some spectacular racing, scary accidents and ignited a heated debate over pack racing and its place in IndyCar.

High-intensity pack racing infuriates some, enthralls others
Podium: third place Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport and winner Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and second place Tony Kanaan, Ganassi Racing
Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske Chevrolet
Pack racing
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Pack racing
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet and Ed Carpenter, CFH Racing Chevrolet
Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing and Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, CFH Racing Chevrolet
James Jakes, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Ryan Briscoe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

Saturday's wild IndyCar race at Fontana had drivers split on how to feel about it. Some were grinning from ear-to-ear over the enthralling action in a race that saw a record 80 lead changes and four and five-wide racing almost every single lap.

The race ended when Ryan Briscoe flipped on the front stretch (Crash Video), allowing Graham Rahal to snap a seven-year winless streak. Reactions after and during the 500-mile thriller were all over the board.

Penske team slams pack racing

"I felt it was a little too stupid, we shouldn't be racing like this and sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt," said Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished fourth. "Honestly, I was not a fan of the racing we put on today. What I told IndyCar yesterday was that we shouldn’t be racing like this. This is full pack racing and sooner or later somebody is going to get hurt.  We don’t need to be doing this."

Will Power was very animated after the incident, making comparisons to the 2011 Las Vegas race that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon. 

"It is just not safe racing," added Simon Pagenaud. “We don’t need to risk our lives for the 5,000 people here in the stands today," concluded Ganassi pilot Tony Kanaan.

Team Penske President Tim Cindric voiced his displeasure with the pack racing during the event, talking with NBC Sports.

"It’s really disappointing because we all sat down with IndyCar after Las Vegas and discussed the fact we could never have another race like we had then. Why we’re here doing that today and I have no idea.

“It was very obvious to us from the first practice that this was the way it was going to be. We voiced our concerns, the drivers voiced their concerns. I’m sure it’s fun to watch, but running open-wheel cars like this is very difficult.”

Some not bothered by Fontana racing

A.J. Foyt, on the other hand, had no issue with the race and said so within minutes of watching his driver Takuma Sato crash heavily.

“It’s not that much fun watching, but I think it’s great racing. At least you can race. When you can race, you can race. … That’s just racing. It just wasn’t our day.”

Ed Carpenter was also taken out in an accident, but tweeted "I love close IndyCar racing. Hate to see drivers bad mouthing a series. If you want to race, race. If not, retire."

The comment that spoke the loudest though has to be James Hinchcliffe's. He nearly lost his life at Indianapolis last month, yet he went and posted on social media, "Man I wish I was out there!!"

These are just a handful of the many opinions now circulating in and around IndyCar after a race that polarized fans, drivers and media alike, igniting a debate that will rage on far beyond Saturday's 500 miler at Auto Club Speedway.

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