Today we saw Indianapolis Motor Speedway history as the Firestone Indy Lights Series Freedom 100 ended in a FOUR WIDE Finish at the line and was decided by 26 ten thousandths of a second (.0026)!
Peter Dempsey of Ireland was in fourth behind leaders Carlos Munoz, Sage Karam and Gabby Chavez going into the last lap of the 40-lap race. Karam, driving for Sam Schmidt Racing, seemed to be in the best position to win. He had started pole, led the first several laps and had dogged Munoz the entire way once he got by.
As many of us expected, Sage swung his car to the outside of Munoz and looked like he had the momentum. Then Chavez made it three-wide and the race was on!
Wait…not so fast! Dempsey, after the top three made it three abreast, drew up behind Chavez and blasted to the outside, making it a four car drag race to the line as the fans erupted!
Dempsey’s Hollywood ending came true as he won, literally, by a nose! Chavez, Karam, Munoz and Zach Veach rounded out the top five in a race that those of us who watched it will never forget!
Anyone who says that Open-Wheel racing in America is dead needs to take another look. True, IndyCar needs a bigger TV stage than NBC Sports Network. Yes, Indy Lights is quite expensive and suffers from a thin car count. But the potential is there for a popularity explosion with the right combination of marketing and persistence.
I have never seen better IndyCar road racing with more exciting finishes than I have this year and I expect the 500 to be just as nail-biting. Drivers such as Takuma Sato are ratcheting the aggression level up to “sizzle” and forcing the competition to step it up.
Indy Lights has Karam, Munoz, Chavez, Veach and Dempsey just to name a few. These are young racers with tremendous potential who are driving as if they’re hungry and not just to run around and finish races.
It is my belief that if IndyCar could talk the “real” NBC into carrying some of their events and if the “parent” IndyCar Series would, as my media colleague and racer Mike Guerity of 3-Wide-Life pointed out to me earlier, offer some legit scholarships to get more of these kids up to the big series we could see a huge comeback because the racing is shorter and much more aggressive than much of what NASCAR’s offering these days.
What an amazing start to a holiday weekend where we pay tribute to and remember those who have gone before us, on the track, on the battlefield and in each of our lives.
Now it’s off to the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for some World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and NDRA Crate Late Models.
RaceChaserMobile, take me to the track!
PHOTO: John Cote / IndyCar.com