Dear Indycar drivers, please take notice that a two-week gap in your schedule overlays perfectly with a road course swing in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.
Between the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio on August 4, and the Go Pro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 25 NASCAR’s top two series makes three of its four road course stops. The Nationwide Series makes back to back stops at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio while the Cup drivers race at Watkins Glen. The days of road course ringers coming in and beating Cup drivers on the right-left-right circuits are done with, but it could still be a good chance to market Indycar drivers.
Indy has raced at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio before and Indycar drivers have dabbled in NASCAR with limited success. Alex Tagalini has finished second in the Nationwide race at Montreal in 2011, and Paul Tracy has made some spot starts, but no one has really made a serious effort with a competitive team.
One thing NASCAR has done a very good job at is assisting their drivers find rides and sponsorship. Indycar has been late to this game, but has found some limited success. I think it would be entirely proper to reach out on behalf of some drivers to get them rides for those two weeks in NASCAR. It could keep Indycar in the news, and potentially win some fans over.
Sebastien Bourdais and Tagalini would be top of my list. Bourdais was impressive this year at Mid-Ohio and raced at Watkins Glen in a rand Am Prototype, so he’s familiar with how a heavier car handles at that track. He’s racing for Jay Penske, whose father fields a very successful NASCAR team and one would hope they could work a deal. Bourdais has won in every series he’s ever raced in and apparently helped Jamie Whincup’s championship V8 Supercar team go up a step. I for one would love to see Sebass throw down with NASCAR’s best. Justin Wilson is another driver who has elevated every team every team he’s driven for and has a 24-Hour of Daytona win under his belt.
Chip Ganassi also owns a NASCAR team and could field a team for Dario Franchitti whose returned to championship form and might have something to prove in NASCAR. Also Watkins Glenn is the track where he recorded his only Nationwide pole. James Hinchcliffe’s sponsor also sponsors a NASCAR team, and might be interested in cross-promoting him.
Will Power is another Penske driver who looks like he could adjust to anything that turns right. Given the right equipment and testing time I have no doubt he could show something over that two week stretch.
There’s whole list of drivers with no connection to NASCAR teams who I would love to see try to adapt to a NASCAR car, and this year is as good as any. There is going to be a new car that will only have been raced once at Sonoma on a road course, so it’s going to be as close to an even playing field as they’ll ever get. I hope a few drivers go for it, at best it could help grow the sport, if nothing else it could give me a reason to watch a NASCAR race again.