The RACER Mailbag, September 6

Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t guarantee that every letter will be published, but we’ll answer as many as we can. Published questions may be edited for length and clarity. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.

Q: Coyne needs to sign Sage Karam to a one-race deal to be David Malukas’s muscle.

Shawn, MD

MARSHALL PRUETT: McLaughlin’s twice his size, so you might be onto something here. In a throwback to the 2000s, I feel like someone needs to start the 2023 version of but for Lil’ Davey Malukas to sell the false impression that he’s the world’s toughest man. We’d get gems like this (borrowed from here):


• Death once had a near-David-Malukas experience.
• David Malukas spices up his steaks with pepper spray.
• David Malukas once kicked a horse in the chin. Its descendants are now known as giraffes.
• The flu gets a David Malukas shot every year.

Q: What if a team took a current Dallara tub and Firestones as the safe base, and then added any drivetrain and aero package from any set of USAC/Champ Car/IRL/IndyCar rules package since 1960? Unlimited boost? Unlimited displacement? Multiple engines? AWD? Active suspension? Monster wings? Side skirts? Active aero? What did I leave out? Could this car lap Indy at 300mph? I wanna see it!


MARSHALL PRUETT: The formula behind big speeds at Indy involves light weight, high power, and ample grip to maintain that speed through the corners. That makes chucking multiple engines into the DW12 a bit of a non-starter. But here’s an idea: If you could strap two NHRA Top Fuel motors to a Dallara, and get them to last a lap, I imagine you could go fast enough on the straights to where having big World of Outlaws wings on the front and back could allow you to maintain decent speeds in the turns. Maybe if we hit 450mph on the straights and can do at least 150mph in the corners, we’d get to an average lap speed of 300mph or more. Active aero and active suspension would definitely help.

Q: What went wrong with Graham Rahal’s race at Portland? He seemed to be leading effortlessly up to his first pit stop.


MARSHALL PRUETT: Lots, including another strategy masterpiece by Ganassi. Here’s what Graham said: “I was at the wrong place, at the wrong time a lot today. Every time we came out of the pits, we were in a gaggle of cars. Every time we came into the pits, we had lapped cars in front of us that cost us a lot of time. The Canapino deal cost me four or five seconds on an in lap which cost me three spots. On the last stop, we had a little fueling issue and that cost us. We should have been well ahead of McLaughlin, and instead we were four cars behind by the time everything had cleared.

“I’m clearly not happy, but not pointing fingers. Maybe there were times that I could have maximized it more. I can’t think of a clear mistake that I made but maybe there was a lap or two that I could have gotten more out of. Our balance on blacks on the first stint, I was really, really loose and I think that hurt us. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

Portland was a “shoulda, woulda, coulda” weekend for the No. 15 team — which is still better than a “not in the conversation” weekend. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: I am excited to see that the hybrid unit successfully completed some grueling testing at Sebring. I’ve been wondering about the transition of this project from MAHLE to Chevy and Honda.

I searched the web and read several articles about it from various outlets, but none of them provided a significant amount of detail. I read everything from: a scenario that suggested MAHLE is still involved and supporting it, even now, as a joint venture with Chevy-Honda-IndyCar; or, conversely, that the initial MAHLE product received was entirely inadequate, leading to Chevy-Honda-IndyCar taking over out of necessity; to numerous other postulated situations. Not all of them can be accurate.

What happened? Was this transition planned? Is MAHLE still involved? Have they been manufacturing the parts as the technology has continued to be developed and refined? Will MAHLE have expert support personnel at the tracks next year? Or did Chevy-Honda-IndyCar take over due to an insufficient product that required their intervention? If that’s the case, who will be manufacturing the hybrid unit for the teams?


MARSHALL PRUETT: From what I understand, and for a variety of reasons, MAHLE was not going to be able to deliver its proposed system on time. With the clock running out on being able to mass produce energy recovery systems to go with the new 2.4L motors in 2023, a radical change of plans was required to keep the series on its path to hybridization and, critically, to keep Honda on board. That plan shelved the 2.4Ls, took those budgets, and applied them to designing and creating a new ERS solution with IndyCar’s two engine partners working together on the project.

I am not aware of MAHLE having any involvement today. Team Chevy/Ilmor is working with a different European vendor to make the motor generator unit, and Honda Performance Development is working with another European vendor to make the supercapacitors. Look for more details in another installment of our IndyCar hybrid video series on in the near future.

Q: After getting dressed down by the team following his Q1 elimination, are there any prospects left for Romain Grosjean in IndyCar?

Ryan, West Michigan

MARSHALL PRUETT: Grosjean has received interest from three teams, but there’s also a chance he won’t have a seat next year. The hostilities between himself and the timing stand was not only a bad look, but it’s also not the look you want while trying to sell yourself as the right person to hire in another corner of the paddock. He needs to start over somewhere else and to bring that cheery and fulfilled version of himself that we saw in the opening months of the season.

Q: Week after week we hear complaints about lapped cars impeding cars in contention for a possible podium. How about doing your best Robin Miller impression and give IndyCar an earful to correct this? My solution: once a car is a lap down, IndyCar disables its push to pass. Pros and cons?

Rick Schutte

MARSHALL PRUETT: I don’t know if I’ve seen anything different with lapped cars in 2023 than I saw in 2013. They’re always a problem, in every series I follow. It’s part of the puzzle for the leaders to solve, and depending on the driver, series, or race, backmarkers can bring some spice and drama to a snoozefest. Give people nothing to yell about — at the TV, in the grandstands, or on the timing stands — and we’re in trouble.

Q: I’ve been unfriendly towards Graham Rahal, but he claimed the pole at Portland and I was interested in how his race would go. He looked good from the get-go, but the next time I looked, he was down 20-30 seconds even though IndyCar timing and scoring showed all to be square on pit stops. I didn’t see why he dropped. What did I miss? And a comment, way too much expertise is conveyed by the NBC announcing team… just saying. If only they were out there?

Jack Woodruff

MARSHALL PRUETT: We covered off Graham above. On the broadcast side, Hinch, specifically, was in the Portland race two years ago, so I’m taking whatever he says as a fact. Townsend’s a racer. Dillon’s a racer. And Diffey’s called IndyCar races for 20 years.

Q: I saw the movie “Grand Turismo.” The movie didn’t touch on Jann Mardenborough’s adventures in open-wheel racing, and it many focused on him winning the GT academy and his racing in European GT and his race at Le Mans. Do you think he’s capable of driving an IndyCar, or stick with the IMSA GT3s?

Alistair, Springfield, MO

MARSHALL PRUETT: Jann’s got tons of talent. If he were motivated to come here and give Indy NXT a try, because he has no racing profile in the U.S. that would make an IndyCar team owner want to hire him, I’d bet he’d be exceptional.

Q: What is the attraction of Andretti Autosport over Chip Ganassi Racing for someone like Ericsson? CGR is a 15x championship team. Is it the illusion of an F1 seat?

Mark, Ohio

MARSHALL PRUETT: A big salary is the first item, and the feeling of being wanted is the other. He’s never spoken of seeking a return to F1 because he knows it’s not realistic. Like every IndyCar driver, he’s said he’ll happily go back if Horner or Wolff place a call, but that isn’t happening for him or any other driver in the series.

Q: Two quick questions: First, back in the day when the TV announcer said the team was putting sticker tires on, you would actually see the stickers on the tires for a few moments until they wore away. I don’t see those anymore. Do teams remove them, or does Firestone not apply them and there is some sort of bar code printed on the tire? Second, how many air guns do teams go through in a season? It seems like when the outside front tire changer throws the gun to the wall it takes quite a bit of abuse.

Rich, Woodstock, IL

MARSHALL PRUETT: The bar codes are on the sidewalls, and the big old-school stickers are no longer a thing. They’re smaller now, and most teams make the effort to remove them before the tires go onto the cars. Teams tend to work with primary (race) and practice guns. The race guns aren’t pulled out until warmup, and it’s common for this year’s race guns to become next year’s practice guns with new units coming in as the race guns.

Q: What do you think of this idea? R.P. or Jay Frye call Ed Carpenter in and say, ‘Your entry is welcome, but we are afraid if you are the driver there is a good chance your car will fail tech inspection every race.’ Call it the Carpenter Infraction of Rule 18.b, Paragraph 5, Section 108, Seat 4. Replace the driver with a decent sub and the Carpenter infraction will probably go away.

Jim Cox, Rock Island, IL

MARSHALL PRUETT: I know it’s easy to kick a guy when he’s down, and Ed’s had the worst run of his career over the last year or two, but he’s more than capable of running up front in a car that’s capable of being there. If Alex Palou is slow on a road course, I know it’s not because of him. The same goes with Ed on ovals. The difference here is whether Ed will make the necessary changes within his team to change his fortunes?

The problems at ECR run much deeper than the guy at the wheel of the part-time third car — but he’s also the only person who can really fix them. Josh Tons/Motorsport Images

Q: What a great race at WWTR, cementing in my mind that Scott Dixon may well be the best of his era. Granted, it was a heck of a team effort, but he still had to drive and feather the throttle. If I am ever low on gas, I want Scott driving my car!

Two questions. As best as I could tell, Marcus Ericsson was on a similar strategy to Dixon and was, I think, five laps better on fuel after the last stops. Why did he and his team abandon that strategy when Dixie was looking like he would make it with five laps less fuel? Shouldn’t Ericsson have been able to get to the finish and on the same lap with Dixie?

While on Ericsson, can you explain the issue of having no backup car to go to after the wreck with Power? I appreciate that due to engine lease practices a team cannot show up with two cars fully ready to go in the hauler like they did years ago. But Palou’s team clearly had a backup to put together, and it got used by Marcus instead. Maybe this begs a bit more of a global question as to what teams can and do show up with in the way of backup cars and equipment for situations such as Ericsson’s?

Forrester L Morgan

MARSHALL PRUETT: The question about Ericsson is answered by your opening comments. Most drivers have learned to save fuel at a high level, but this was facing the Yoda of fuel saving and Marcus — or any other driver — weren’t going to match Dixie.

On the spare chassis side, you get what you negotiate for. There’s also the reality that if needed, a spare chassis can be deployed for use with any of the other entries.

Q: I love oval racing, and ovals are what made me an IndyCar fan back in the IRL days. I’ve been to Texas many times, the 500 twice, Milwaukee back in 2009, as well as the ill-fated 2011 season finale. I want more ovals more than most fans. But let’s be clear, going back to Milwaukee, which has failed multiple times, ain’t it. To keep it short:

• It’s been almost 20 years since MKE was last successful.
• The most successful new event for IndyCar has been Nashville (a street race in a growing, cool, popular city).
• F1 is holding street races in the U.S. in fun, growing cities which are proving popular despite the terrible racing.
• People always complain about the racing on the flat, short ovals because the racing is single-file more often than not. (I don’t even like them much myself.)

My point is, if I were calling the financial shots at IndyCar, and despite my love for ovals, the last move I’d make would be returning to an old track that’s failed multiple times that was last successful almost 20 years ago.

Ross Bynum

MARSHALL PRUETT: We’re kinda’ predictable that way, aren’t we? Milwaukee has failed more than once as an IndyCar venue this century, but it’s worth one more try. If this attempt doesn’t work, with a new promotional effort from Penske Entertainment (which is the new wrinkle), it will never succeed.

Q: Thank you for a great article on Juri Vips. I hate seeing these kids get crucified for one dumb mistake. We’ve all made mistakes but a lot of us have been lucky that they stayed private. Let’s move on and give the kid a second chance.

Dave Seaton, Indianapolis

MARSHALL PRUETT: I hear you, Dave. When I think of mistakes, locking your keys in your car or forgetting to tip the waiter come to mind. Uncorking the N-word is a mistake, no doubt, but it’s one with well-known and well-defined repercussions, and might make you question why that “mistake” was made.

Nonetheless, Vips and the RLL team appear to be genuinely interested in gathering knowledge that will help the kid in life and as a professional, so while it’s sad it took this kind of situation to come to this realization, I do think Vips will be a better person after going through this self-induced hell.

Q: There were many letters last week about fuel saving. I believe what these people don’t understand is that even if IndyCar gave the teams an unlimited amount of fuel there would still be fuel saving, especially near the end of the race. There will always be three vs four stop strategies, and those strategies will change because of yellows.

You cannot remove strategy from racing. Why in the world would you want to? The only answer is the sprint format used in the mid-1970s F5000 racing. No stops at all. And when one car checks out on the field, the complaints about a lack of close racing will be deafening.

Mike Talarico, 60 years in Riverside, CA, now near Charlotte, NC

MARSHALL PRUETT: I do hope that more folks will recognize that a driver’s ability to save fuel while making speed is just as big of a skill as driving at maximum speed without saving fuel. It’s not an aberration; being great at using less fuel to go quickly is a huge differentiator, just like being able to go 0.01s faster per lap in qualifying.

Q: I love that Helio is part-owner of MSR, and I also heard TK state that he is interested in future team ownership in IndyCar. Are there any other drivers you know who have an interest in ownership? It seems with Scott Dixon’s not only amazing ability to drive out a team strategy but to understand what it takes to win, that he would be an outstanding future owner!

Dixon’s domination at WWTR reminded me of the unfair advantage Penske/Donohue displayed in Can-Am years ago, except Penske/Donohue had the best equipment. Dixon was racing all those other equal Hondas in the field! Absolute amazing job by Ganassi/Dixon!


MARSHALL PRUETT: Dixie’s too smart to start an IndyCar team. There are many who have the smarts to do so, like Simon Pagenaud, but I just don’t see him putting in 20-hour days for the next five years to bring a team to life.

It’s a safe bet that there’s a long list of ways Scott Dixon plans to use his time once he’s done with driving — and an equally safe bet that dealing with the hassle of running his own team isn’t on it.  Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Q: How long before Alex Palou starts his own team? As plenty of drivers can attest, his ability to not honor contracts makes him perfect for team ownership!

Secondly, I was hoping WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca would take the March/April slot in 2024 so I could go to the race. Selfishly, I always miss the fall date because I spend the entire five days at Petit Le Mans each year, and the two race dates are too close together for me to pull it off. Is it just the concern about March/April being the rainy season, or is something else in play? And let’s be honest, the rainy season in that area is still hit-or-miss showers at best.

Zack S, Atlanta, GA

MARSHALL PRUETT: We do get rain, but there’s no telling how much or how little it will be. Even so, the track doesn’t want to risk a poor turnout so it’s aiming for June or July.

Q: With the recent news of Ericsson heading off to Andretti and Linus Lundqvist moving to Ganassi in the number No. 8 with Marcus Armstrong going full-time in the No. 11, I couldn’t help but notice the contradiction here. Ericsson brought his own funding to the No. 8 and now sees fit that he should be paid. He and Ganassi couldn’t come to terms, and off to Andretti he goes.

Armstrong, to the best of my knowledge, is funding his ride in the No. 11. Linus has no financial backing, and as we’ve heard since winning in Lights, that was the major hurdle for him not being in the series in 2023. Yet, he is now the pilot of the No. 8, a supposed pay-driver ride. The math isn’t working out here. Is this another Palou small-dollar contract that he accepted in the hopes of proving his ability?

And what about Ericsson? Is this a slap in the face to him? Does Chip see him as a non-championship contender even though he’s brought home podiums, wins and the Borg-Warner Trophy? Did Chip offer him peanuts? Or is it merely the old adage of why buy the cow since I was getting the milk for free?

Ken P., Naperville, IL

MARSHALL PRUETT: Makes total sense, Ken. Chip offered to pay Marcus to drive the No. 8 and fund it through team-found sponsors. Marcus declined the offer, which was said to be good, but nothing like the $4 million per year Andretti’s said to give him, which made it easy to sign Linus. I’m sure he isn’t being paid a ton because he hasn’t done anything to warrant a big contract.

Q: Who actually owns the Borg-Warner Trophy? Next year, when Penske’s captive stewards give him his 20th win, will it become a permanent decoration on the credenza in Roger’s office?

Russ Wakeman, Canton, MI

MARSHALL PRUETT: There’s a rumor on the Internet that the Borg-Warner Trophy is owned by Borg-Warner. Roger would turn it into motor racing’s great Russian Doll, with all of his Baby Borgs kept inside the main trophy.

Q: Our Sebring camp has renewed our tickets, car, and RV passes for Sebring 2024 at 2023 prices. We ask you, is there a better bang for the buck for motorsports fans in the world?

We are recruiting new people and expect to have over 25 in our camp next year. We have been to NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and F1 events elsewhere, but none compare to Sebring. For less than $30 per day (if buying the full week ticket), you get to go inside on Tuesday, then get four great days of on-track action, free access to the paddock, an awesome vendor village, and one of the best parties in North America at Green Park after Dark. Hank ’n Sheila’s Big F’n Tent is party central, but good times are held throughout the infield! We have yet to bring a person to Sebring who has not had a good time.

Daytona treats the 24-hour race like an NFL game, complete with metal detectors and third party minimum wage “security staff” who harass you. When you finally get in the infield section, the fences are six feet tall, and the atmosphere is pretty lame if you don’t know a millionaire in a bougie RV.

Circling back, is there a better week-long event in North America for a motorsports fans to attend than Sebring?


P.S. All who are reading this are welcome to share a tasty beverage with the Manic Manatees inside of the hairpin.

MARSHALL PRUETT: You win letter of the week for the first-time use of “bougie.” Can’t disagree with anything you’ve shared. Not even the Indy 500 can compare with the extreme fun at a low price that Sebring offers. It’s one of those things where if you know, you know. And if you’ve never been to Sebring for the 12 Hours, you’re missing out on one of life’s great experiences.

Q: “I am tired of professional athletes believing they can renege on contracts they agreed to. We have that situation with Chris Jones and the Chiefs locally, as he has held out of camp because he wants a new contract and has one more season left on the existing one — at $20m!” said James, from the last Mailbag.

If he’s sick of it, maybe James should start watching NHL hockey, where guaranteed contracts cannot be restructured. The CBA is rock solid in not allowing for it.

Football owners are just as much to blame for this phenomenon as the players.

Mike McKenna

MARSHALL PRUETT: I recently learned IndyCar does have a very basic form of contract oversight, but there are no series policies on anything that would be construed as a CBA, or basic guidelines for that matter. If a driver wants to go rogue, there’s nothing I know of that IndyCar has in place to corral or correct such a move. It’s purely in the hands of lawyers.

Q: I know the IndyCar teams can’t modify the body kits for on-track performance, but can they modify them for off track performance? For instance, if a team came up with a better mechanism to change a nose quicker during a pit stop (and assuming it’s mechanically safe), would they be permitted?

Sean, KY

MARSHALL PRUETT: They would not. The whole idea behind spec parts is to make the challenge equal for all teams, so no monkeying with the spec bits and pieces.

Spec means spec, and that includes the mechanisms for replacing noses. Motorsport Images

Q: I was at the Milwaukee Mile for NASCAR’s return last weekend, and I had a great time. The crowd looked pretty good for a standalone Truck event, but my one concern was with the parking situation. I got to the track half an hour before the ARCA race started and some gates were restricting access to one side of the road, while the one I went to took a long line of cars through the full lot and to the grass area behind Turn 2 and backstretch. If IndyCar is returning, I believe it would be a bigger draw than the NASCAR Trucks, so I hope the State Fair and the promoters can figure out a better situation.

Logan, Saukville, WI

MARSHALL PRUETT: Thanks for the intel, Logan. Whether it’s parking or concessions or every other aspect of the event, IndyCar cannot afford to mess up at Milwaukee. It must nail all the details or it will die.

Q: Is anyone looking at Jack Harvey for next season? Is he showing up on anyone’s radar at all?

I feel Harvey has a lot to offer and has had some not-so-great breaks in his time with RLL and the end of MSR. Some questionable race strategy and car setups… but with that being said, maybe he could have done a few different things on his end to help rectify that. I just feel he still has some good seat time in him. Thoughts?

Kasey Branham

MARSHALL PRUETT: He is not, at least as a serious number one option. I’ve heard he might be interested in lending his talents to the NBC broadcasts if a drive isn’t available. I think he’d be a great addition to the booth.

Q: I’ve been an IndyCar fan for over 30 years. Reading about the new F2 car, whether it relates to IndyCar or not, just makes me sad that IndyCar has not had a new car in over a decade. Yes, I know updates have been made. Yes, it’s a better-looking car than the original DW12. But the bottom line is that I am reading about every other racing series introducing new cars, and IndyCar seems to not only have given up on its plan for a new one — it doesn’t even want to try to put together a plan for a new car.

I love the sport. I always have. But I just am starting to see this as a series with no idea going forward. It’s like the owners have given up and are now just complacent. Yes, I know it’s not my money. But it wasn’t my money 30 years ago when I fell in love with the sport, and somehow the millionaire and billionaire owners could afford new cars yearly.

Is saying that an IndyCar has a five-year life span and then a new one would be made too much to ask? Is letting the owners know that every five years a new car will be commissioned so that they can be prepared to pay for it to much to ask?

I’m not posting this as an “IndyCar is doomed” guy. I guess I’m just venting a little because another series has announced a new car, while we still race with something associated with 2012. After announcing they were postponing the new car — what, two years ago? — it has been crickets from IndyCar leadership on this since.

SUPP aka Jim in Allen Park

MARSHALL PRUETT: If IndyCar’s team owners demanded it, a new car would be here ASAP, but most prefer to avoid the costly changeover. And the same old argument — that the racing is good, so why change anything — is always the answer. There’s a decent spike in costs coming for 2024 with the series going hybrid, so I get why there’s a push to wait for less costly days, but I just don’t see it happening. IndyCar announced a new engine formula in 2018 and six years later, it will finally arrive. Maybe if we announce a new chassis now, it will be here before 2030.

Q: College football started this week and my 4K channel lineup is alive. Any idea when motorsports will get in on the action?

Shawn, MD

MARSHALL PRUETT: Since motorsports is a completely disconnected and independent sport with no unified sanctioning body and different broadcast partners across every conceivable network and platform, that would be a no. While we’re asking questions that have no answer, how long is a piece of string?

Q: I tried to find this out via Google, but I was unable to do so. May I ask you how Bob Varsha is doing? For the last 35 years or so I felt he was easily the best motorsports broadcaster in the United States, and I have met him on two or three occasions at races. I know he was seriously under the weather, and I wanted to know how he was getting along these days. I hope you will pass along my best wishes to Bob.

David Lind

MARSHALL PRUETT: Bob fought and beat cancer a few years ago and keeps busy with whatever opportunities come his way. He’s the best.

Q: I attended my first professional road race in 1968 at the Road America Can-Am. Can you ask your statistics boffins to look up the fastest laps ever for Can-Am cars and then USAC/CART/IndyCar for common tracks? I’m remembering The Glen, Mosport, Mid-Ohio, Road America, Laguna, Riverside and probably Sonoma. I expect the Can-Am record to be by the Penske/Donohue/Porsche 917-30. I do understand that track paving has changed and some configurations also, but still, I’m curious.

Rick, Lisle, IL

MARSHALL PRUETT: I have one friend who specialized in IndyCar statistics, and he does things on his own free time. Sports car stats aren’t in his wheelhouse, and while I could go and do the hours of research for you, that’s not the purpose for the Mailbag. You can satiate your curiosity by starting here, and then going here. Please report back and let us know what you find.

Q: With Alex Palou’s second IndyCar championship in three years, will opportunities in F1 open up for him next year? I would guess his CGR contract has F1 provisions.

Mike Woodall, Kettering, OH

MARSHALL PRUETT: They may, but he’s signed a new and long contract with Ganassi, and after all of Alex’s contractual nonsense over the last year, I doubt Chip would provide any wiggle room for him to leave — unless it’s a life-altering payday for the team, which no F1 outfit would offer — before the contract is up. Alex was asked about this on Sunday, and he pointed to his age — he’s 26 — as an issue that will only get worse for F1 teams who want young, new, and malleable, not older and set in their ways.

CHRIS MEDLAND: The impression I get from chats with McLaren is that the Ganassi U-turn does not come with any F1 provisions. AlphaTauri’s interest was always a little tentative, but has softened further given the fact Red Bull already faces a choice of two from the three of Yuki Tsunoda, Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson.

If anything, sticking with Ganassi feels like a decision from Palou to focus more on enduring IndyCar success rather than prioritize trying to get an F1 chance over that.

Little does he know, that kid is actually Zak Brown in an elaborate disguise, and that hero card turns into a contract if you fold it like one of those old Mad magazine illustrations. James Black/Penske Entertainment

Q: Didn’t all this business with Palou start with Ganassi not wanting to renegotiate his contract after winning the championship? That’s the memory I have, but please correct me if needed.

Also, it seems absurd to me that Ericsson would need to continue to bring money. He’s quick, he’s steady and he’s won races (not insignificantly, the Indy 500!). Those are not the typical results from someone bringing money.

My point is that Ganassi seems to be his own worst enemy. In this sport, and many others, Worth = money. So, what message is Ganassi trying to send?

Also, as we know, Dr. Marko often says questionable things. Most recently, this would include his suggestion that Andretti should buy Alpine. It looks to me like Alpine has no interest in selling anytime soon. The upheaval in team management strongly says to me that they are planning on continuing, else why go through the BS of removing folks? Am I reading this correctly?

Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA

MARSHALL PRUETT: Alex signed a contract for an agreed-upon sum. His dissatisfaction with what he signed, while mid-contract, didn’t impress Chip. Chip might not have done himself any favors with Ericsson though, as stonewalling him until late in the game only angered Marcus, who chose Andretti’s offer and warmer embrace over the offer and longstanding rejection from Ganassi. Chip has won three of the last four championships and an Indy 500 since 2020. He’s doing OK.

CHRIS MEDLAND: I agree with you about Alpine, Don, as Michael Andretti has already said that he’s been to every team and none of them are selling. Not only the upheaval, but the recent investment from multiple consortiums that means Alpine/Renault is having to put less into the team also suggests it’s working financially for it, even if the sporting results aren’t great.

That said, the departures suggest an impatience at Renault board level, and if the next year or two results are also hard to come by then perhaps it would become open to selling at that stage.

Q: I am seeing news footage of Ryan Preece’s crash, and his black eyes a week later as he is racing again. The crash feels very similar to what happened to Simon Pagenaud back at Mid-Ohio, and Simon has been out of the car for two months now. Both of them climbed out on their own and walked away, seemingly unhurt. So what’s the difference that allowed Ryan to race again a week later? Is it the direction of the spin — end over end versus side to side? The number of times it hit the ground? Safety in the NASCAR vs IndyCar? Or is the IndyCar medical protocol that much more stringent than NASCAR’s? I am a dedicated IndyCar fan and know a fair amount about their medical team and what they do, but absolutely nothing about the corresponding NASCAR protocol.


MARSHALL PRUETT: Doctors and physicists and engineers would need to analyze both crashes and provide the answer on the differences in forces and the respective effects visited upon Simon and Ryan. We know in basic terms that brain injuries are highly specific to the individual in how the damage and recovery process plays out, so two drivers experiencing the same exact crash would not have the same effects.

KELLY CRANDALL: Ryan Preece was allowed to race because he wasn’t injured. It’s as simple as that. He was kept overnight at the hospital, and then cleared to get back into the car.

Q: Any merit to the rumor that Lance Stroll will retire at the end of this season and Alex Palou will take his Aston Martin F1 seat?

Ralph, Indianapolis

MARSHALL PRUETT: Couldn’t tell you on the Lance part, but Palou will be driving for Ganassi next year and beyond, which we told you about a month ago, and Chip confirmed on Sunday.

CHRIS MEDLAND: It’s a no from me. I do still find it hard to to shake the feeling that Lance might decide he wants to race in other categories or make a career change given his recent struggles, but his return from his broken wrists earlier this year shows his determination so I don’t see him retiring from F1 just yet. And while Lawrence Stroll would probably like to get one over Zak Brown by poaching Palou, I don’t see Aston taking that risk on a driver who hasn’t started a grand prix.

Q: Will Max Verstappen ever compete in IndyCar, or the Indianapolis 500, or in NASCAR or in the Daytona 500? And will Curtis Turner or Smokey Yunick ever get inducted into the NASCAR Hall Of Fame?

Kurt Perleberg

MARSHALL PRUETT: No on Max and IndyCar. Who knows on Max and NASCAR, and Smokey belongs in every racing hall of fame.

KELLY CRANDALL: Well, they say never say never… but I’ve never seen him express any interest in NASCAR.

Curtis Turner was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2016. Smokey Yunick has never been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, so the nominating committee must feel strongly about something to not give him a chance for selection by being on a ballot. The assumption is that it’s because of the rift that once existed between Yunick and the France family.

Q: It seems that fewer and fewer V8 engines are being sold in vehicles. Is NASCAR blind to the fact that engines used by the teams are not really production pieces readily available to the buying public in cars? It seems ridiculous that some of the cars being raced as stock cars cannot be purchased in the configuration raced (V8 engine) at a dealership, even ignoring that there is little similarity between the race car shapes and the ones available to be purchased at a dealership. When did the rules start outweighing reality?

Pete Pfankuch, Wisconsin

KELLY CRANDALL: I don’t think NASCAR cares. They aren’t in the engine-selling business — the manufacturers are. But I don’t think they care either. Let’s be honest: there has been nothing “stock” about a “stock car” in decades, so folks really need to let that go. The manufacturers do care about trying to add more character to their race car bodies — something they’ve tried to do more over the last few years — that resemble the production counterpart because they want fans to see something relatable on the track. But that comes down to the box NASCAR puts them in regarding the car design and rules.

The “stock” part of “stock cars” lives on in name only in the modern NASCAR Cup Series. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

Q: Since when do you need a super license and super license points to race in NASCAR? Especially on an oval where it’s two left turns, or maybe three! Sarcasm aside, I’ve heard rumors that NASCAR doesn’t want to let Shane van Gisbergen in full-time next year due to a lack of experience on ovals. That seems like a very F1 elitist-type of thing to do. I realize pack racing on a superspeedway is no joke. I also realize Travis Pastrana has some experience, but it had been a couple years since the last time he’s done it and SVG is a professional at the top of the sport. Is anyone with some common sense able to remove that barrier if that’s the route Trackhouse wants to take?

Ryan, West Michigan

KELLY CRANDALL: There is an approval process that every driver has to go through, and that process can be different depending on a driver’s resume and credentials. NASCAR wants drivers of all disciplines to come and compete in the sport, and they will work to make that happen. In talking about Shane van Gisbergen in particular, he has a road/street course background and was approved for those races. He then ran an oval at Indianapolis and did very well, which will be considered going forward.

But when it comes to superspeedways, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s required to run a race in a lower division before being approved for a national series start. But it bears repeating, every driver’s process is different, so considering van Gisbergen’s credentials, he may not have to take that route. Time will tell once van Gisbergen is confirmed to compete next season and has his NASCAR license.

Q: Why do F1 drivers sit on the ground while their cars are being prepped on the starting grid instead of in chairs?

Bill, IL

CHRIS MEDLAND: I don’t mind admitting I had no idea about the answer to this other than it had just become a habit to conserve energy during longer grid ceremonies rather than standing in the heat the whole time. They’re in race suits, don’t forget, so they can overheat, and sitting allows them to shade themselves completely with an umbrella, if not the wall itself.

So I asked one of the drivers’ trainers — Rupert Manwaring, who works with Carlos Sainz — and he said with the amount of kit that they already carry to the grid a chair would be a bit of a pain, but the window to use it is also small. After getting to the grid to talk with engineers, drivers tend to return to the garage and use the bathroom, then walk back in time for the anthem, and generally get in the car very quickly after that. So while they’re sometimes pictured sitting against a wall to get in the zone, they’re not sitting there for long.

Q: As much as I know it’s never going to happen, if Lance Stroll were to leave the Aston Martin team on his own, or got sacked from the team, would Daddy-O Larry-O give up ownership of Aston Martin and the team? And would Aston Martin just fall back into bankruptcy?  Nonetheless, in my opinion (I know this is a pipe dream) Lance and Larry ought to be investing Aston Martin into IndyCar as well as F1. No budget caps in IndyCar, at least 

Aaron Cylinder, firing on all cylinders, Media, PA

CHRIS MEDLAND: Interestingly, the topic of Lawrence Stroll and the value of Aston Martin came up this weekend with another team principal, who thinks he’s made very smart business calls. If he looks to sell up, he’s got a very strong car brand and an F1 team that carries its name, but that also has incredible assets now after its factory development. He definitely wouldn’t just give it up, but he’d probably make a significant profit and hand over a very well-placed F1 outfit.

I don’t know if it makes any business sense, but I’m all for more F1-IndyCar crossovers so I’m on board with the pipe dream!

Q: Having just watched Alex Palou win his second championship in three years, Aston Martin should poach Palou and say bye to Stroll’s son Lance, who has done next to nothing in an identical car to the one Alonso has used to score many podiums. Contracts can always be broken, and what a couple of matadors this pair of Spaniards could bring to F1 in 2024!


CHRIS MEDLAND: Before I shoot this down, I want to make it clear that I’d love to see Palou get a chance to show what he can do in F1. Maybe he’d struggle to adapt, maybe not, but either way if a driver with his record at his age doesn’t get a shot in F1 then I wonder if anyone from IndyCar ever will.

But I really don’t see Aston Martin ever getting rid of Stroll unless it’s the driver’s choice, and as tough as this year has been for Lance I think he’ll point to the pre-season injuries and some bad luck as putting him on the back foot, so that he’d hope to perform much better next season. Whether he actually manages to do that is another matter, but I certainly don’t see him being replaced against his will.

Q: What do you make of Felipe Massa’s legal moves, years after the fact, to overturn a world championship result? It seems absurd, and absurdly late. What honor is to be gained? I’d say it is all to be lost, and my opinion of him has nosedived.

Anthony Jenkins, Canada

CHRIS MEDLAND: It’s an interesting one, because Felipe has clearly been informed that certain comments made by Bernie Ecclestone about the Crashgate scandal earlier this year could help him earn damages. Massa’s not trying to overturn the 2008 championship, but to have the FIA and F1 admit he should have been champion, and pay him huge amounts of compensation for lost earnings and opportunities he’d have received as a title winner.

Massa and his legal team know that the result won’t be changed, but it would be as good as if he’s awarded compensation.

It’s the quotes attributed to Bernie that are key here and are what triggered the legal action, because Ecclestone said the FIA and F1 knew about Crashgate during the 2008 season, but did nothing about until it was too late to overturn anything in order to prevent it from becoming a massive scandal. However, he also now says he doesn’t remember giving that interview…

I don’t see Felipe succeeding, as one key figure in his case disputes making the comments and another — former FIA president Max Mosley — is no longer with us.

It’s wild that the aftershocks from Nelson Piquet Jr.’s 2008 Singapore crash are still being felt 15 years on. Motorsport Images

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, September 4, 2014

Q: I’ve been watching IndyCar for 20 years, but just recently started to make it my primary venue for motorsport after attending my first Indy 500 this past May (which was as epic a race as I’ve ever seen in my life). That said, whenever someone brings up doing the double on Memorial Day, it’s always about what NASCAR driver will run an IndyCar, but never the other way around.

Has anyone on the IndyCar side of things tried looking for a NASCAR ride so they can attempt it, thus bringing some more eyes on the open-wheel side? I know sponsorship is the driving factor, but why not have an IndyCar guy run a couple of Nationwide races to get a license for a Cup car and try it one day?

Alex Martinez

ROBIN MILLER: Well, A.J., Rutherford, Mario, Parnelli, Gurney, Hurtubise, Bettenhausen, Johncock, Sneva and the Unsers all competed in the Daytona 500 and Cale Yarborough, Lee Roy Yarbrough, Bobby Johns and the Allison brothers came to the Indy 500 back in the ’60s. But I guess it’s a lot more prestigious to come try Indy than it would be to go run nine hours at Charlotte. But my vote for the double in 2014 is KYLE LARSON!

Story originally appeared on Racer