Phoenix NASCAR winner Kyle Busch was asked if IndyCar’s Super Bowl, the Indy 500, is somewhere in his future and, well, he didn’t say no. He specifically said, “If I could ever get a chance to do it I would certainly welcome it and try to…”
But earlier in the weekend when we asked something similar of Aric Almirola, he answered vehemently, “No!”
Aric’s grandfather raced open wheel and it was once thought that Aric’s path was being paved to follow in those footsteps, including the climb all the way up to IndyCar. As many of us in racing are well aware, the IndyCar split in the mid-90’s changed the paths of several sprint car and midget car drivers, most of whom would jump to Indy Lights and then IndyCar. But instead of heading directly to the top racing series in the country, this other series NASCAR had begun gaining national popularity and snatched up so many of the younger drivers with what was then considered a more stable product. The split destroyed IndyCar’s reign as the top racing series in the United States and vaulted NASCAR to the top of the podium.
Fast forward more than 20 years and now both series are struggling for relevancy in a sports landscape that is more diverse and more time consuming than ever. But some things never change. Drivers taking shots at each other’s series has been common practice for decades. So why then have many fans taken issue with Almirola’s recent comments about IndyCar? Are we more sensitive in this differing landscape? Almirola did say that he has respect for IndyCar drivers and that they are “very good at what they do.”
But alas, Aric made the car/driver comparison that just seems to hit a nerve with fans, engineers and series' execs alike. “IndyCar doesn’t really excite me… especially ovals… they just run wide open and it’s about getting the car trimmed out just right… it’s a lot car and some driver… that’s what’s cool about NASCAR… it’s more 50/50 car/driver…"
Oh Aric, you are just in time for MTV & Ice Cube’s revamping of Celebrity Deathmatch. It is ON!
For the complete context, listen here to Aric Almirola from ISM Raceway:
And for a full weekend wrap on not only motorsports, but all sports in general, listen to The Freaks with Kenny and Crash LIVE on Fox Sports 910 at 1pm PST.