Yes, there are differences between IndyCar and NASCAR, and these differences seem to still be a subject of debate whenever the Indianapolis 500 comes around.
A rookie by the name of A.J. Allmendinger (who started fifth in the Indy 500 on Sunday) already ran the Daytona 500 four times during his Sprint Cup career. But he, like many other drivers, believes wholeheartedly that although the Daytona 500 is beyond special, it’s the Indy challenge that takes top prize.
Let’s just say from the images on screen and the media interviews, A.J. is one fan of Indy who has stars in his eyes. A.J. discussed with absolute delight the best of the best moments that happened in Indy 500 history, and how the drivers would strive to cross that finish line first. Would A.J.’s statement annoy NASCAR fans? Most likely. But even the rookie said that everyone was putting far too much weight on which form of motorsports is actually better.
This is the truest view possible, yet for the past twenty years or so, NASCAR has been the top choice for fans. IndyCar is growing, they are getting back to the original strength they once had, but NASCAR still looks and acts like the red-carpet motorsport.
One of the issues, however, that many have agreed upon is the fact that IndyCar drivers and sponsors are far easier to deal with and gain access to than their counterparts in NASCAR. The PR involved for the IndyCar realm is more entertaining, and the drivers are a lot less guarded so fans and media can get to them with ease. No million-dollar buses appear in the lots, and almost every sponsor of a major IndyCar team has a hospitality area set up.
So let’s weigh the differences. When it comes to the rules, NASCAR allows contact to be made; it is a contact sport out there on the track and bumping is acceptable. When it comes to IndyCar, this is a non-contact sport (although contact has certainly occurred). Because of the more lightweight cars, they can wreck from even the smallest impact.
NASCAR is all about stock cars. With body weight being 3200 pounds, the cars are made of heavy rolled metal with bumpers and doors. But the turbo-charged engine is not a part of the car.
IndyCar, on the other hand, are open-wheeled cars with no roof. Made from a lightweight carbon fiber, no doors and bumpers are provided; but the engines are most definitely turbo-charged.
When it comes to locations, the oval tracks of NASCAR are well-known, while the IndyCar can race on oval tracks or street courses. The biggest race for NASCAR is the Daytona 500, which is literally referred to as the “Super Bowl of Racing.” IndyCar’s most famous is, of course, the Indianapolis 500. A Super Bowl ring may not be part of their realm, but Indy’s tradition of ‘kissing the bricks’ is alive and well.
When it comes to drivers, IndyCar had a definite female star. Danica Patrick won an IndyCar race and finished third in the Indy 500 back in 2009. I say had, because Danica has announced that Indy racing may just be behind her for good. Instead, she is focusing all her efforts on NASCAR and the Spring Cup Series.
Daytona 500 has had a woman as part of their field of drivers too, back in 1977. But, thus far, a female hasn’t earned the title of Super Bowl champion.
Whether a die-hard NASCAR fan or an Indy lover, the Indianapolis 500 is an international event. The entertainment, thrills and chills, and big finishes that went down in history, are part of the many traditions that make up the race. The rookie, A.J., is correct on this one: IndyCar should never be treated as the ‘poor cousin’ when it comes to the NASCAR/IndyCar debate.
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