No. 1009
August 14, 2019

About The Autoextremist


Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I have read the voluminous back and forth from all sides of the issue, but the bottom line for me - though Sunday's final bumping did prove to be dramatic - is that qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 is a mess. I appreciate the fact that people may think that because Fernando Alonso didn't make the field it validated the entire qualifying process, but it doesn't. The McLaren effort wasn't good enough and he wasn't fast enough and so be it - that part of it was fine. But again, the entire Indy 500 qualifications process has been messed with and watered down with gimmicks over the years, and we have arrived at this juncture where a reset is desperately needed.

First of all, the argument that there should be guaranteed spots in the field for the major teams is preposterous. Make no mistake, I appreciate the massive contributions that Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti and Bobby Rahal have made to the sport of major league open wheel racing in this country. They not only support the series, they underwrite payrolls for hundreds of professionals in this business, bring corporate partners to the sport, and generally provide the momentum for the sport of Indy car racing in this country to survive. Again, their contributions, both individually and collectively, are incalculable.

But, there are no guarantees in life, or in racing. If these racing juggernauts come undone in qualifying and can't make the field, it would be devastating to their sponsors and The Show, but life would go on. And they are of course free to come back the following year, sharper, better prepared and ready to make the field. That's how it should be. Guaranteed spots in the field would destroy the integrity of the entire event. Period.

As for the "Fast Nine Shootout" business, it's convoluted, gimmicky and stupid. Indianapolis needs to go back to the idea of establishing a field of "The Fastest 33" starters - in descending order of speed - with bumping to get into the field still allowed on the last hour of the last day of qualifications. "The Fastest 33" would restore integrity to the qualification process for the Indianapolis 500. 

And it needs to happen in 2020.

And that's the High-Octane Truth for this week.

(Photo by Chris Owens/INDYCAR)
Simon Pagenaud delivered the eighteenth Indianapolis 500 pole position for Team Penske, extending the benchmark NTT IndyCar Series program's record that stands at thirteen more than any other team. In addition, Pagenaud became the first Frenchman in a century to capture the Indy 500 pole, since Rene Thomas in 1919.

(Photo by Chris Owens/INDYCAR)
The Front Row for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, the 103rd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." On pole (right): Simon Pagenaud in the No. 22 Team Penske Menards Chevrolet Turbo V6 with a four-lap average speed of 229.992 mph; Ed Carpenter will start from the middle of the front row in his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet Turbo V6 with a speed of 229.889 mph; and Spencer Pigot (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Turbo V6) will start third with a speed of 229.826 mph. Pagenaud will lead the closest field in Indianapolis 500 history to the green flag. The time separating Pagenaud's four-lap qualifying attempt and that of slowest qualifier Pippa Mann was 1.8932 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2.1509 seconds in 2014. The 228.240 mph speed average of the 33 qualifiers is fourth fastest in Indianapolis 500 history. The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.


Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May 1964. Dan Gurney and Jim Clark conversing during practice for that year's Indianapolis 500.