When the 2011 IndyCar season winds down in Las Vegas, five drivers from other series will have the ability to win a $5 million grand prize. In theory, at least, since none of the 26 drivers who’ve expressed interest have been approved by IndyCar officials, and no IndyCar teams have stepped up to field “guest drivers.” That said, one of those 26 drivers is Travis Pastrana, who IndyCar would love to have in a seat during the Vegas race. Pastrana has a huge following of potential IndyCar fans, so even a single race appearance would help to boost series ratings.
A lot of things have to come together before Pastrana throws down against IndyCar’s best on October 16. First, he needs to complete a mandatory driver test in an IndyCar, which won’t happen unless he finds a seat to rent. Laps in IndyCars don’t come cheap, so it isn’t likely that any team will loan him a car, crew and spares just for a driver’s test.
Assuming Pastrana gets past that obstacle (and he will, since IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is behind his participation), the next step is finding a team willing to lease a race car for the event. Rookies to the series have done well in the past, but only those with significant open-wheel racing experience, which Pastrana lacks.
There aren’t many teams in contention to win the championship this year, so Pastrana’s best chance at winning the $5 million prize will be behind the wheel of a Ganassi or Penske car, and that’s probably not going to happen. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Andretti Autosport will find a car for Pastrana (and others, perhaps) to use, but I seriously doubt any of the “Foreign Five” drivers will contend for the victory. Call me cynical, but I’ll be surprised if any of them even finish the race.