Today's crash at Pocono proves Indycar has a problem with superspeedways
During the first lap of this weekend's Indycar race at Pennsylvania's Pocono Raceway, a huge crash involving Takuma Sato, Alexander Rossi, Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe, and Ryan Hunter-Reay stopped the race for 45 minutes. Pocono has recently seen huge and terrifying crashes on track in the 2015, 2017, 2018, and now 2019 events. A 2015 crash led to the death of driver Justin Wilson and a 2018 crash led to the partial paralysis of driver Robert Wickens, who weighed in on Twitter following today's crash, saying Pocono should be removed from the Indycar schedule.
I agree that Pocono should be taken off the calendar. But I think that isn't going far enough. After all, every one of the the three superspeedway tracks that Indycar currently races on has seen huge crashes--Texas Motor Speedway had a really big one in 2017, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has had huge crashes on a regular basis. One, in 2015, almost killed James Hinchcliffe (who is also Wickens's teammate), and another in 2018 sidelined Sebastien Bourdais for almost the rest of the season. Scott Dixon somehow escaped a terrifying 2017 crash at the speedway without serious injury, and Carlin driver Max Chilton announced earlier this year that he will no longer race on superspeedways due to the huge risk of a serious crash. I feel like this should throw up some serious red flags, people.
The way I see it, Indycar has two options . One, reduce the speed, either through a modified aero package or through restrictor plates. Some opponents of restrictor plates in NASCAR claim that this will actually increase the risk of crashes, but even if they are correct, the crashes that do happen will be happening at much lower speeds, so they will not be as deadly. There's a reason these types of crashes don't happen on road courses. I think Indycar should try to get from 220 to 200 mph at least, if not down to something like 190.
The other option is to give up on superspeedways entirely, and stick to road courses, street courses, and short ovals. This will be a controversial opinion, because it would involve canning the Indy 500. For that reason, I don't see Indycar ever taking this route--at least not entirely. But in my opinion, Indycars are too fast, and too exposed, to race at tracks like this.
So what should Indycar do? I think they should go for a combination of the two ideas. Drop Texas and Pocono, but keep the Indy 500. However, use restrictor plates or a revised aero package to bring the speed down and hopefully, reduce serious injuries. At the end of the day, Indycar (and all racing) will always be dangerous, but hopefully, steps like this will significantly reduce that danger