HEALTHY RIVALRIES AND FUN FEUDS
The heat is building in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and it couldn’t come at a better time. By heat, I
mean healthy, intense rivalries among
drivers. Our recent races at Toronto and
Edmonton brought out the competitive
side in each of us.
Things like that are exciting for the
fans. It generates interest. It’s good
drama, and sometimes it’s fun. After the
Toronto race, everyone was talking about
the growing rivalry between my teammate
Will Power and Dario Franchitti. They’re
battling for the championship, and it
definitely warmed up at Toronto. IndyCar
racing has always had rivalries but now
it’s been taken to another level. It’s
midseason and it’s getting hot out there.
It’s not just one or two drivers, either.
Almost all of us have a feud going with
16 SEPTEMBER 2011 racer.com
another driver. It isn’t just entertaining off the track; it adds to
the competition on the track. It’s become more competitive with
each race, and the individual rivalries add to that competition.
It got really hot in Toronto. Tony Kanaan was mad at my
other teammate, Ryan Briscoe. Will was mad at Dario. Graham
Rahal was mad at Ryan Hunter-Reay. And, even before we got
to Toronto, Dario was mad at me. Because of the tight track
layout, Toronto was a place that offered very little opportunity
for drivers to make something happen, so there were lots of
crashes and close calls. That leads to a high level of intensity
between drivers. Why is that good? Because it creates stories
for our races, and stories generate interest. What if we all went
“ALMOST ALL OF US HAVE A
FEUD GOING. THAT ADDS TO
THE COMPETITION ON TRACK”
Helio scored his first podium finish of the
season in edmonton after an intense final
stint, spent racing in close formation with
teammate Will Power and Dario Franchitti.
out there and raced but never got close to
each other and nobody ever had an
incident with another driver? Borrrrring!
Rivalries are interesting.
They’re also proof that our form of
racing is as close and competitive as it’s
ever been. Our cars are very similar, and
there isn’t much difference between first
and last place. That puts us all very close
together on the track, which leads to
incidents. And that, as you know, turns
up the heat and intensity.
The bottom line is that what’s
happened over the last couple of races is
proof that the IZOD IndyCar Series is
extremely competitive and entertaining.
That can only lead to more viewers and
more growth. So a little bit of anger is a
good thing. Some good, healthy rivalries
are a positive sign.
I’ve had my own heated battles this
year. Dario thought I was blocking him
in Milwaukee. I was surprised he would
call me out like that, so I responded by
saying he should act like the champion
he is. It wasn’t mean-spirited, but it was
honest. And it made our battles on the
track that much more intense. I don’t
dislike Dario – he’s a great racer and one
of my toughest competitors – but we did
exchange barbs after that race and before
the race at Iowa.
Here’s another example of healthy
rivalry: Tony Kanaan and I have been
friends since we were kids, but we’ve
also been rivals. In fact, I’d say through
the course of my career, Tony has been
my biggest rival. We were teammates in
the past, we both went for the same
championship in Indy Lights, and we’ve
raced wheel to wheel for most of our
careers. We’re still friends but our rivalry
helps the series generate interest, just
like all other rivalries and feuds do.
At Edmonton, rivals ended up racing
each other to the finish, as Dario chased
both Will and I during the final laps.
After the race, Dario was complimentary
about both of us. He said we didn’t make
any mistakes. So we’re able to be intense
on the track against each other, and
sometimes we criticize each other, but
we also know how to compliment each
other when we race well. It was nice to