IndyCar responds after Long Beach death threats

Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, Long Beach, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Callum Ilott, Juncos Hollinger Racing, Long Beach, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

IndyCar responded to the hate and vitriol spewed at certain drivers after Sunday afternoon’s race on the streets of Long Beach.

Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race on the streets of Long Beach, California was a bright spot for many, including new polesitter and race winner Kyle Kirkwood and the entire Andretti Autosport team, which secured their first 1-2 finish since September 2020.

But unfortunately, the 85-lap race around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile (3.167-kilometer) temporary street circuit brought about the worst among a small percentage of the sport’s fanbase.

IndyCar fans aren’t generally known for getting “ugly” on social media, at least not the extent that a handful of NASCAR and Formula 1 fans are, but that was sadly the case after Sunday afternoon’s race.

IndyCar addressed the online abuse and reiterated that it is unacceptable on every level.

While the statement indicates that “drivers” were the target of “disrespectful and inappropriate abuse”, the primary target was Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott.

Specifically, fans of Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Agustin Canapino attacked and threatened his British teammate, who happened to come out of the pits ahead of him on a restart.

Canapino was leading the race after not pitting during the caution period, and Ilott coming out right ahead of him in an attempt to stay on the lead lap slowed him down and caused somewhat of a chain reaction, particularly at the front of the pack.

The 33-year-old Argentinian driver had never previously led an IndyCar race, but his lead did not last long. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who took advantage of the chaos to pass Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, took the lead of the race a few seconds later.

Upon learning about the death threats directed at his teammate, Canapino quickly made a statement in support of Ilott, denouncing the things that were being said.

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The 2023 IndyCar season’s fourth race, the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix, is scheduled to take place at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 30. It is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.