The RACER Mailbag, June 19

Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to We love hearing your comments and opinions, but letters that include a question are more likely to be published. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.

Q: Good to see Malukas back and in the saddle with Meyer Shank. Doesn’t look like he missed a step. You think Arrow McLaren kicked him to the curb too soon?

Jeff, Colorado

MARSHALL PRUETT:  I don’t think so, based on what the team was wanting from him. They waited four races and decided his uncertain return timeline wasn’t a fit for their needs. The fact that he never raced for the team was important; if he got hurt while driving the No. 6 Chevy at St. Pete, they’d have waited. Ilott did well as a stand-in, as did Pourchaire, who I can’t believe is now out of the car. Great shot for Siegel, but a cruel twist for the F2 champ.


Now Malukas has a chance to develop at a really good team at MSR and can revive his career and earn an opportunity to stay in the car next year if he does a proper job. He was a wild card at Arrow McLaren — an inexpensive experiment among two proven veterans — without holding extraordinary importance to the team with O’Ward and Rossi there. At MSR, he can prove himself to be a vital cog in the team if he puts up the results in the No. 66 Shank has been chasing.

It won’t happen this weekend or at Mid-Ohio while his recovering hand and wrist are pummeled, but give him some time and I think he’ll be someone MSR will want to keep.

Q: How about this: This proposed international IndyCar exhibition series grows revenue and eventually can move into filling early season calendar spots and a post-season or two non-points flyaways… maybe even a trip back to Motegi to entice/appease Honda or other potential Asian (Toyota/Hyundai) OEMs? Is there enough buy-in across the paddock to make it happen?

Gordon, Dallas, TX

MP: Not sure a Korean manufacturer like Hyundai would see any value in a Japanese race, but the main issue is the fencing placed around the calendar with FOX. The NFL with its Super Bowl and NASCAR on FOX at Daytona own most of February, and FOX and IndyCar are ending their first season together the weekend before the NFL season starts.

Whether it’s IndyCar’s long-held strategy to avoid going head-to-head with the NFL, or FOX’s full devotion to the NFL and NASCAR, IndyCar is left with a strict corridor of when it can be on TV.

I just don’t see where going to (name the places) before the season happens due to FOX’s priorities placed elsewhere, or where the series goes after the NFL dominates FOX’s airwaves from September-January. And no promoter I can think of is going to pay top dollar to host a pre- or post-season race that has no meaningful TV component.

Hands up if you’d like to see IndyCar go back to Japan. (My hand is also up). Steve Shunck/Motorsport Images

Q: With the news that Fox will broadcast IndyCar next year, I hope that they: do not have awful drawings of the drivers instead of real pictures, have someone other than Adam Alexander as the lead announcer, (he does a good job, but he’s too identified with Cup), do not have ceaseless promotions for the next Cup race during the IndyCar broadcast, and bring back Kelly Stavast as a pit reporter.

How many years is the multi-year broadcast contract?

David, Waxhaw, NC

MP: Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles declined to answer the duration part, but two to three years would make sense. He told us in a recent interview that they wouldn’t be signing a long-term deal due to the rapidly changing world of broadcast and streaming options.

Q: Watching Le Mans reminded me how quickly the state of things can change in motorsports. Just a few years ago Toyota was racing against incomparable competition (no offense to Rebellion and Glickenhaus). The top class was frankly uninteresting and uninspiring beyond the intrateam battle with the GR squad. Just a few years later, Hypercar has become the biggest and possibly the most fascinating motorsports class. With nearly 10 manufacturers racing globally in Hypercar/GTP, it’s hard not to be absolutely amped about what’s going on in the prototype world. The cars are cool and interesting, the racing is close and exciting, and there’s more marques than anywhere else in motorsports.

IndyCar, on the other hand, has really got itself into a pickle. Even before Penske, the series sat on its hands and avoided the changes necessary to grow manufacturer involvement. While I understand the reasoning to essentially freeze the ICE units and gently open up the hybrid units for development, it doesn’t feel like a step towards growing the series, but rather a way to prevent it from becoming fully spec. I get the mindset, but I wish IndyCar would do something more inspiring/open.

I just don’t see how additional manufacturers would be enticed by a badging exercise with minimal design influence? With torque sensing and fuel flow meters, you’d think there would be ways to have more passive BoP to prevent a spending war while maintaining close competition. Good racing, technical diversity, and restrained budgets don’t need to be mutually exclusive.

Michael, Halifax, Canada

MP: Amen.

Q: After watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans, what´s next for the LMDh guys at the Ganassi shops in the U.S. and Germany after the Ganassi/Cadillac split at the end of 2024? Another IndyCar program might not be the option…

Do you know why Honda doesn’t choose Ganassi for its GTP program from 2025 onwards, with the existing ties they have?

Lars, Germany

MP: I haven’t heard of any immediate follow-on programs for CGR in 2025, but I am aware of two significant manufacturers who are looking at joining IMSA’s hybrid GTP class in 2026 or 2027, plus another existing brand that races in the WEC and wants to add a GTP program. Any of the three could be a perfect fit for the team.

I’ve heard the bidding process for the Acura GTP effort had some teams come in with a higher financial need than others.

Q: Have the cooling concerns on the updated aeroscreen been addressed?


MP: I’m struggling to recall a sweltering day of running since the aeroscreen was introduced. I think we’ll need to table that one until high heat/humidity provides the answer.

Q: Seeing the planned override system in F1 (which is just a push to pass with a cooler name) made me think… Why doesn’t IndyCar change the push to pass to something similar? Something that allow drivers to use when they are 1.0s or 1.5s behind the next car but disables automatically as soon as the cars go side by side?

DRS has an advantage compared to P2P: It works all race long. P2P, on the other hand, is mostly used by people in the back. Those in the front tend to use less. Most times the leader has way more than everyone else at the end of the race and nobody can pass them.

Of course IndyCar grid being this close could cause some difficulties for passing. That sure would mess up with fuel saving, as well.

William Mazeo

MP: Why isn’t IndyCar switching its P2P routine to one that’s never been used in F1? IndyCar is weeks away from going hybrid and introducing 60hp of e-power as a secondary P2P. I’d imagine they’d want to get some races under their belt with the existing P2P and the new e-P2P before monkeying with anything.

Q: Have the IndyCar simulators been updated to include the hybrid technology? If so, how is such updating done, and by whom?
Considering the Road America Penske sweep, wouldn’t it be nice if IndyCar was transparent and released data on P2P, etc., so we could be sure it was above board?

Isaac W. Stephenson

MP: It’s all virtual in driver-in-the-loop simulator testing, so it’s the software engineers at Chevy, Honda, and Dallara writing code to replicate the effects.
Would folks know what to do with the data and how to confirm its accuracy and legal use if it was provided?

Q: Was it Blomqvist’s desire to embark on an IndyCar career after a successful sports car career, or was MSR looking for a place for him to race in their IMSA 2024 “gap year” between factory programs?

Ralph, Indianapolis, IN

MP: It was a bit of both, as I’ve understood the situation, but was pushed for and made to happen by Shank. Tom had a strong junior open-wheel background, and was a monster while racing for MSR in IMSA, and with that in mind, there was a curiosity and belief that he could excel in an IndyCar. If he’d found the speed and consistency and confidence required to reach his potential, I’m positive he’d be in the car for years to come. Now, I’m looking for him to be reunited with MSR IMSA teammate Colin Braun when their Acura ARX-06 program returns for 2025.

The Blomqvist/IndyCar experiment was worth trying, but you can expect him to look more comfortable when he returns to the IMSA fold. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Q: Knowing how Scott Dixon takes care of his car, tires and fuel mileage, I’m left wondering if he just got a bad left rear at Road America? Or did the team just badly miss the setup? We weren’t shown all the alternate tires taken off cars, but that looked to be about as bad a case of blistering as I’ve seen. Will Firestone do an autopsy of the tire?

Tom Hinshaw, Santa Barbara, CA

MP: Yes on the investigation by Firestone. Drivers who pushed too hard on the alternates too soon had the worst results. The Ganassi team’s racing at Le Mans as I write this so getting their take on the tire isn’t possible.

Q: Romain Grosjean’s in-car radio from Detroit referring to “I (he) has nothing to drive for” got me to thinking about team recognition. With the IndyCar Series now at 10 full schedule teams and on the verge of a charter system, are we not at the point where recognition of team accomplishments can be tracked for potential awards at season’s end?

To make it as equitable as possible and given team sizes ranging from two to five entries, how about providing team points based on highest and lowest finisher? In this fashion, each team with greater than two entries must rely on each driver to perform for recognition of overall team excellence. (i.e., it’s not just about the driver getting the recognition in this points system).

Furthermore, it would also be possible to drill down on team performance in each of the disciplines (overall, road, street, and oval). Being admittedly a die-hard fan, I would find this interesting to follow throughout the season.

I’m not certain about the casual viewers interest if promoted on TV however, but depending on the “discipline of the week,” team standings within just this discipline could be presented in conjunction with the typical driver standings. That’s a step above and beyond what other series can promote about their team’s race to race.

If interested, here’s a little insight as to how team points could be award (and even under different point value systems). [MP – See attached .xl file] Feel free to pass along to IndyCar for consideration

Chris (WHY NOT BRING BACK LOUDON!) Bobay, Hooksett, NH

MP: IndyCar has the entrants’ championship, which recognizes the annual achievement of each individual car/entry. The series did road/street and oval “championships” back in Randy Bernard’s days as CEO, if my memory serves, and while it was cool, it didn’t garner much attention. We could revive it and just send the oval trophies to Newgarden because he’s damn near impossible to beat. Same with Palou and Dixon on the roads and streets.

Q: Why was there such a late wave of the green at the start at Road America? The field was formed and ready to roll between Turns 13 and 14. Seems like every time they hold waving the green at the start, the field just stacks up and it leads to problems. Looks like once half the field was out of Turn 14 it would have been perfect to throw the green.


MP: If Marcus Armstrong hadn’t hit Linus Lundqvist, I’m not sure we have any issues, and we can start the race close to the bottom of the hill, but that gives drivers more time to draft and fire by and arrive at Turn 1 at a higher rate of speed. The late green is fine as it is.

Q: It was reported that Josef Newgarden’s crash hit 95g, with 80g in his helmet. That seems like it would take some time to recover from. What does a driver feel like a few hours later, and the next morning? How do they get back into the car and perform so quickly (other than they’re paid to do so)?

Speaking of quickly, how big a difference is it between “cold” and up-to-temp tires? How long does it take for tires to come up to temp on a track like Road America as opposed to a street race like St. Pete?

What takeaways are there from Nolan Siegel in the JHR car as opposed to the Siegel in the Coyne car?

I really liked Jack Harvey at MSR, but he hasn’t seemed the same since he left. How much of that is a confidence issue, a team issue, a gelling issue? What other factors are involved?

Ed, Jersey

MP: Every person handles impacts differently, so Josef was obviously not injured and incapable of driving. A different driver might have been ruled out in the same hit.

On tires, there’s no single answer; it depends on the ambient conditions and the compound and the tire pressures and how hard a driver is pushing.
No major takeaways on Siegel since he’s barely driven for both teams. Jack had a team built around him at MSR and hasn’t had the same since.

Q: What happened to Rossi at Road America? He ran in the top 10 through the whole race until the last stop, then dropped to 18th. Did he have car problems or did they pick the wrong strategy again?

Second question is, do you think he will ever win again? He used to be the one to beat on road courses, but it has been years since he has won a race. What is going on with him?

Mark B. Floral City, FL

MP: He had a turbo wastegate issue. I’d be surprised if Alexander doesn’t win at least once per year. From the outside, he seems to be in a really good place this season, but he continues to be the first guy at Arrow McLaren to have the cartoon anvil fall on his car, just as it did so frequently in his final years at Andretti. Wish I knew why.

Q: I find it extremely frustrating at Road America when teams pull their trucks (Andretti were the first three) across the walkway up to the pit fence, then rope off the other end to keep fans away. This was the second year in a row! That seems so unsporting. Says to me, “Don’t buy our team merch or anything from our sponsors!” Other than that, fabulous weekend!

Tom Hiett

MP: Teams park where they’re told to park by IndyCar. It isn’t a decision made by their truck drivers.

Q: Thinking about Road America in 2025. Osthoff or Siebkins?

Jeff Smith

MP: I stay 30 minutes west in the lovely town of Fond du Lac. Siebkins is the most fun option, based on the nightly gathering of teams and drivers, but I have no experience staying at either option.

Q: I don’t remember seeing Menards on a car since Simon Pagenaud drove for Penske a few years back. I noticed a Menards banner at the Detroit race and was curious to know if you have any knowledge as to his involvement, if any, in IndyCar? I know his son Paul raced in NASCAR, and I believe John Menard is still around. He seemed to have had many accomplishments in past years. Could you be so kind to remind us of some of his achievements and where is he now?

Hisham Bate, Indy

MP: Haven’t seen Menard since his No. 22 Penske Chevy days. Rather than rewrite what already exists in detailed form, you might give this a read.

Do you know what Menard’s Wikipedia page doesn’t mention? The No. 22 IndyCar. Outrageous. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Q: Why is Turn 2 at Road America considered a turn?

Reginald L., San Diego, CA

MP: Our friend John Ewert, the head of communications and fun at Road America, shares this:

“It’s a great point of curiosity for many fans and drivers alike. Quite simply, Turn 2 is a slight bend, similar to Turn 4, but it also plays a crucial role in setting up for two of the more challenging turns downtrack, Turn 3 and Turn 5. While it may not be as pronounced as some of the other turns on the track, its significance lies in the setup it provides for navigating these subsequent turns effectively.

“Additionally, Turn 2 holds a legacy value due to past corner stations and flag stands, which have historically marked this part of the track as a distinct turn. Over the years, this nomenclature has stuck, becoming a part of the track’s rich heritage.”

Q: Looking at the speed chart from the hybrid testing at the Milwaukee Mile, the best laps were around 160-161mph. In 1998, our own Patrick Carpentier qualified at 185mph to establish the track record that still holds, 25-plus years later.

Has the track changed, the tires or is it the lower downforce from the current chassis? Can you explain where is the difference coming from?

JP, Quebec City, Canada

MP: You bet: Lighter cars, far more powerful engines, and a tire war between Goodyear and Firestone that resulted in extreme grip. Plus, teams with unlimited days of testing and frequent visits to Milwaukee made for cars/teams/drivers who were dialed in and flying in some of the fastest IndyCars every made.

Q: Reading last week’s Mailbag, there were a few questions that boiled down to “why doesn’t IndyCar have more consistent paint jobs?”

I think there has to be a happy medium where more cars have what McLaren is doing with a base paint job for each car that’s easily identifiable, but can have varying sponsors. Even the broadcasters weren’t initially sure who crashed on the opening lap at Road America.

Colton Herta had a comment that was posted by IndyCar on its Instagram page on June 1 talking about the Detroit practice issues, saying, “Ferrucci is driving a Penske car to P20 for, like, the fifth consecutive weekend.” While that comment might be a bit of an exaggeration, what are the rules for technical alliances? If Ferrucci is effectively driving a Penske car, it could be argued that he’s way underperforming given the car’s potential.

Will, Indy

MP: I hear you, but all teams aren’t the same, so if the 94 primaries on Graham Rahal’s car want their own liveries in order to give RLL its money, they’ll get their own liveries. There are no rules for technical alliances because the teams in the series are independently owned and run.

Foyt has been the worst team in IndyCar for years. Ferrucci is currently 12th in the standings, and his car is being run on the financial equivalent of loose change found in the team’s couch. It’s the most remarkable year-to-year turnaround in IndyCar. Imagine what they could do with the same budget and staffing depth as a Penske or Ganassi entry.

Q: After that first turn incident at Road America when Marcus Armstrong got penalized but Josef Newgarden did not for what I perceived as doing the exact same thing, I got to wondering: How realistic would it be for race control to issue a summary or box score of the race? So if there is an incident, they indicate the lap, who was involved, who was issued a penalty or not and why/why not? I can’t imagine they don’t do this internally already, one would hope!

Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA

MP: It’s a great idea, Vincent. When judged rule, you’d like to know the reason why they made their decisions. Some sort of after-action report (or after-inaction report in some cases) would only help.

Q: Here are a couple suggestions for Erin Higgins from last week’s Mailbag. The fundamentals learned in a mechanical engineering program are most transferable to motorsports engineering. If Purdue is out of the question, look for a college or university that has a Formula SAE program – the stronger, the better. Competing in the annual Formula SAE events will lead to networking with industry professionals.

If aerodynamics are his thing, although not strictly related to motorsports, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has a strong Low Speed Aerodynamics program. In this case, low speed means under about 300mph.

If you are in an area that has a local Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) region, reach out to them. Depending on the region, they hold autocrosses, rallies, or amateur road racing. It is a good way to have fun, meet people, and start learning about racing. ome of the regions have introductory events to ease the way for newcomers. Your son could possibly find an amateur racer that could use volunteer crew members.

On another subject, I must have missed the boat on sustainable fuels and IndyCars. Last I remember, IndyCars were running methanol, which I understood to be 100% sustainable. I also understood that methanol burned nearly invisible and the spritz on the buckeye was to dilute any spilled methanol enough that it wouldn’t catch fire on the hot exhaust start an invisible fire in the pits. Now I see a big marketing campaign about going to sustainable fuels. What did I not pay attention to on fuels over the last few years?

Walt, Dolan Springs, AZ

MP: Not sure. We wrote plenty of words about renewable fuels leading into the 2023 season.  [ED: Here’s a story and a video we ran about the renewable fuel last year. IndyCar dropped methanol for the E85 blend in 2007, and went to 100% renewable ethanol in 2023.]

Q: I am taking my 7-year-old son to his first IndyCar race on the Saturday of the Milwaukee weekend. I couldn’t be happier to share my joy of IndCar with him. I am debating buying the garage passes for us. I’ve never done that before for races I’ve attended. My son’s goal is to meet some drivers and get some autographs. I am not 100% sure what the garage pass would entail. Would these be worth it for us? Would he have a chance to actually meet some drivers or get a picture with them or an autograph?

Ryan, Lake Villa, IL

MP: No guarantees, of course, but you’ll see plenty of drivers if you’re in the paddock. The most popular drivers tend to hide in the transporters or in their buses when they aren’t driving, but plenty — often the younger or newer drivers — are more social and will happily pose for pictures or spend time chatting. Being up close to the cars and taking photos or seeing what goes on between sessions is also pretty cool.

Fans usually have plenty of opportunities to interact with drivers during IndyCar weekends. James Black/Penske Entertainment

Q: Let me extend kudos to David Malsher-Lopez for his wonderful obituary of Parnelli Jones. And while Dan Schwartz is right that there are only four that raced the turbines, there are others who turned laps and even made qualifying attempts in turbine powered cars, including Greg Weld in the Granatelli Lotus turbine, and Al Miller, Jigger Sirois and Rick Muther in the Jack Adams Aircraft turbine. Then there’s the GE Shelby Turbine cars, but, yeah, let’s just leave that there. They did lap IMS though. Also, turbines did run a few other races, and even Mario ran one at Riverside, but only for not quite a full lap.

Big Possum should know better. That was no “sprint car” that A.J. put on the pole, but his “Championship Car” (later known as Champ Dirt Car, Silver Crown car). Longer wheelbases, heavier. Still, an impressive feat. USAC wouldn’t have allowed a ‘sprint car’ to run a championship race. Well, after 1946.

Jim Thurman, Mojave Desert, CA

MP: Thanks, Jim.

Q: I was glad to see Jamie Chadwick get her first win in NXT. With that and three series wins in the now-defunct W Series in Europe, she is obviously the cream of the crop among contemporary women racers. How does she compare with other IndyCar women of recent vintage, say Katherine Legge, or the best woman ever in IndyCars in my opinion, Simona Di Silvestro, when both were starting out?

Anthony Jenkins, Brockville, Ontario

MP: Simona was a monster in Atlantic cars that were nimble rockets. She’s the best I’ve seen. Everything’s starting to click for Jamie, but the only way to answer the question is to get through the season and see where a larger body of work in her newly competitive state takes her.

Q: I know there’s a lot of fans who expected the IndyCar Series to be further ahead in terms of popularity with Penske having been in charge for four years now (although I’m a newer fan who has only ever known Penske as being in charge). However, is the fact that it has been so difficult to have growth in IndyCar partially to blame on the state Tony George and the Hulman family had the series in when they sold it off? It just seems that the foundation for the series was never very strong since the Champ Car/IRL merger.

Also, big kudos to Penske for getting the series on FOX for the full season!

Matthew Houk, Columbus, OH

MP: It’s a great question. We’ve had growth in entries — for example, Ganassi was a two-car team in 2019, the year before Penske bought the series, and soon after, it changed its approach and began accepting paying drivers. Penske’s ownership has, without question, given rise to more confidence in teams and sponsors to expand or invest.

We’re also at the same race count with 17. The Leaders Circle payouts are effectively the same. And TV ratings/audience size, while up, aren’t vastly improved. Positives, for sure, in some areas since taking over from the Hulman George family, but I also think the Hulman Georges receive unfair criticism — like the series was in bad shape, which it wasn’t — and under Penske’s ownership, everything’s magically better, which is also incorrect.

As I wrote, the FOX deal is the most important achievement — has the potential to be, at least — since the series changed hands. The truly positive things we’ve been waiting for and hoping for could arrive in the coming years if the ratings are what we hope they are.

Q: Pretty much the same schedule as last year; but on big FOX (they’ve come a long way since making my little brother hold the circle antenna just to watch a fuzzy Simpsons). The way the early season IndyCar schedule plays out with the big gaps shouldn’t have too many time conflicts with NASCAR, no? Any word on who the on-air talent will be?

Shawn, MD

MP: The early schedule was built around NASCAR’s broadcast times. Leigh Diffey’s an NBC staple, so he’s going nowhere. Not sure if Towny is interested in jumping ship. Hinch is very much of a broadcast gun for hire, so I hope he’s signed. I texted with PT and he’s interested in returning to the booth.

Not sure on pit lane talent, since NBC has folks like Kevin Lee doing double duty with IMSA, but I hope he’s taken care of. Marty Snider is very much a NASCAR guy for NBC, so I wonder if there’s a desire to leave or if FOX has room. I’ve heard Dario Franchitti’s name mentioned as an analyst of interest.

Q: I’m sure there will be letters galore about the new IndyCar TV contract. But to geek out, in the original Star Wars Episode IV, when the Millennium Falcon drops out of hyperspace into the debris field and Han Solo says “I have a bad feeling about this,” that line keeps repeating over and over in my head.

Yes, getting all the races broadcast on FOX main is a good thing. However, the fans lose out on access to everything else unless you have a pay TV subscription. Yes, FOX has the FOX Sports app but you can only access it with a pay TV subscription. So Indy NXT, practice and qualifying are all gone unless you are willing to pay a lot of money. Miss a race live because of a birthday party, wedding, or graduation? You are out of luck because unless you pay a lot of money, you have no access. Peacock was $6 a month. I could watch the race replay if I had to miss the live broadcast. That’s all gone.

I kind of feel like a kid whose game console got taken away and made into a family used unit that I can only use when it’s convenient for everyone else. I feel this is a mistake like the video game fiasco with issues that will be explained away as “unforeseen.” Foreseen by everyone but IndyCar management. I really hope I am wrong. But FOX never does anything except what is profitable for FOX.

John Balestrieri

MP: Once Venu Sports launches in a few months, we’ll know what the monthly subscription price is for ESPN, FOX and TNT sports channels in one bundle.

Q: I’m sure you are getting blown up about the FOX deal. So like a popsicle on a warm day, I’m going to bring up something else to refresh you from it! At Detroit, Michael d’Orlando and Myles Rowe were incredible to watch drive! I had not really paid much attention to d’Orlando before, however I do not see him on the Milwaukee test. Do we know if he is finishing the season?

Tom Harleman (your teammate from Taylor Fletcher Racing), Carmel, IN

MP: We do not. The 2022 USF2000 champion is a real talent who can never seem to scrape a full budget together. I’d bet he’d be a title contender in a full Andretti or HMD situation next year.

Q: I’m sure you’re aware of the half-pave and changes to Iowa ahead of the Cup race. What’s the odds that this will pull a Texas Motor Speedway and screw up Indy’s racing lanes?

Bernard, TX

MP: I watched some of the Xfinity practice from Iowa and I’m not aware of NASCAR doing anything to the track that would hamper IndyCar.

Q: No Texas Motor Speedway on the IndyCar schedule is a shame. I wonder what happened?

Mark Manroe

MP: I know IndyCar was keen to return this season. As always, the other side needs to say yes for a relationship to happen.

Q: The questions and answers about the liveries and sponsors got me going, so I have a fun and light question for you.

Years ago Champ Car and/or CART broadcasts had Jon Beekhuis doing some very entertaining technical skits (wish we got them today). One not so technical skit was about the sponsorship costs. He broke it down like $xxx for side pods, $xxx for rear wing, $xxx front wing, etc.

Now for fun. Your best guesstimate. I’ve got $2.5m, I want my colors, I want the sidepods and the rear wing. How many races does that buy me for a mid-lower tier car?

Bill M, Delray Beach

MP: About one-third of the races on one midfield car. I miss Jon.

Q: Just read your article on FOX being a great deal for IndyCar and I absolutely agree. I’ve been hoping for this, and one thing you didn’t mention is the cross publicity from the NFL! If Fox promotes IndyCar’s last few races in its preseason games, it would be a huge boost with all those eyes on the NFL, not to mention the end of the NFL season promoting the beginning of IndyCar and the Indy 500 is huge. Great to get some fantastic news for a change!


MP: Great point, CAM. Not sure on what kind of audience tunes in for pre-season NFL games (I don’t), but it can’t hurt.

IndyCar/NFL cross-promotion is a guaranteed winner. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: I saw that IndyCar is moving to FOX starting in 2025. I want to know how we will be able to watch via streaming without having to buy a massive sports or cable package?

We current only have three streaming services (Disney Plus, Netflix and Peacock) and no cable TV package. Our total TV bills run about $20 a month. The only sport we watch is IndyCar, so I can’t justify buying a $70-80 a month cable TV package or a even a $45 a month sports bundle like the proposed Venu for only IndyCar alone when we won’t watch anything else on it and we are currently paying around $7 a month for our IndyCar coverage. That is a huge jump.

From what I heard NBC had promised full network coverage as well, so why the shaft to the stream-only audience? I am hoping there is another way to watch, or IndyCar has just lost a lifelong 40-year fan who watches every race and every qualification.

Justin, Cincinnati, OH

MP: According to Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles, the rumors I’d heard about NBC offering all-network were just that — rumors. My note about Venu Sports is the answer.

Q: I love this decision to go with FOX. The amount of money that the teams and series will receive will be a huge boost. Even a huge win for Indy NXT to be live on FS1.

There hasn’t been much news regarding Honda’s involvement after 2026. Will this TV deal help keep Honda in, and even attract a new manufacturer?

Not that deer hunter Stefan Johansson

MP: It can only help, right? We need to see if the expected hike in average ratings actually happens, and if it does, it would give Honda more of the return-on-investment it’s been seeking.

Q: First, as I understand it, this is a three-year deal with FOX through 2027, correct? Second, will all races after 2025 also be aired on network TV?

Rob, Rochester, NY

MP: That’s my understanding, and Mark Miles told us in an interview no so long ago that Penske Entertainment wouldn’t be doing a long-term deal since the broadcast world is changing so rapidly. IndyCar team owners would burn FOX Sports down if it went backwards and started dropping races on FS1 or FS2.

Q: Now that IndyCar’s immediate TV future is settled, I am curious if you’ve heard anything about IMSA’s next TV deal? The rumor mill has been rather quiet.

John Swank

MP: I’ve heard IndyCar’s upcoming exit from NBC will only benefit IMSA and give it a bigger presence on network.

Q: Great job by Penske getting a deal with FOX. Hopefully it will lead to more engine manufacturers. Are you aware of any lurking deals that might have been juiced by this new deal?

Pete, Ohio

MP: Not in the 48 hours since it was announced, but I’m confident it will make it easier to open doors.

Q: I understand why the second road course race at IMS could not happen in 2024 because of the Olympics and NBC, but with 2025 and FOX, I’m not sure why it was not added back in? It has always been a big draw for fans. There is a date open after Portland and before Milwaukee, and the cars would already be set up for a road course. It seems like Mark Miles gets to relaxed in wanting to expand the schedule. Maybe in 2026?

Arnold Edgar

MP: It wasn’t added back because it was universally hated within the paddock and there’s no need to pad the calendar with Milwaukee and Thermal on the championship schedule.

Q: Will IMS Productions still be involved in the broadcasts under the new contract with FOX? Or will it be 100% Fox?

Jeff Fenton

MP: Mark Miles said the same heavy production support from IMSP will continue.

Q: Reading last week’s Mailbag, Marshall mentioned that Logan Sargeant is rumored to bring $30 million to the Williams table. Having at the same time a discussion on the Autosport forums about the same, I quoted you and (of course) linked to the Mailbag. This was dismissed as rumors. So I did what anyone else would do and Googled it: One result was this.

But it seems the article was changed and now says nothing like that.
That could be for several reasons, but I’m just wondering why Marshall put that figure out? It’s very hard to find any other sources for the question of Logan being a pay driver or not. What gives?


MP: Let me ask Marshall. He says he’s heard the figure mentioned many times by friends who work in F1. He also suggests spending less time in forums. Anybody who thinks Logan was hired by Williams is silly.

CHRIS MEDLAND: I’m not quite sure where MP will have heard that figure from, but it’s very possible that within IndyCar circles that story has gone around off the back of his family ties, as his uncle is billionaire Harry Sargeant III. But Williams insists it picked Sargeant up based on his talent and potential — he was looked at by Mercedes, too, at one stage — and wanted to try and develop him into a top level F1 driver while simultaneously hoping that would prove attractive to sponsors in the U.S. market.

So both aspects can be true at the same time, in that he isn’t bringing direct money to the team but there were commercial considerations as well as sporting ones to giving Sargeant a race seat and keeping him in it for 2024.

I actually think F1 has moved away from the concept of traditional pay drivers now, and it is no longer as simple as buying a seat with enough money regardless of performance. The talent level has to be higher to be in the frame, and the perfect candidate also either has personal sponsors or represents a market that the team would like to be more prominent in.

(As an aside, I’m not sure if that’s the correct link you were intending to share about Logan being set clear targets by Williams last year, but I have the original copy and the article is completely unchanged from when it was published).

Q: I hope FOX can do a better job with IndyCar than it has with NHRA. They run a ticker across the bottom of the screen with useless information, and the ticker compresses the image, so everything looks weird.

I am praying that they do the only sensible thing and hire an IndyCar guy as the lead commentator. You had mentioned Adam Alexander as a possibility. Adam is fine for NASCAR, but not IndyCar. If they haven’t chosen a lead yet, put in a good word for me.

Also — this one is for Kelly, too — I’ve been meaning to address something since the season started. What happened to Saturday night races? It is outright stupid for at least one of the Iowa races to not be on Saturday night. I think there is only one Saturday night NASCAR race this year (Bristol, thank God).

None of this makes sense. Night racing looks awesome. There is no way that I would ever attend a race during the day in the summer, baking in the sun. Also, a Saturday night race leaves Sunday as a fallback in case of rain. Not everyone can take Monday off with one day’s notice if there is rain.

Keith Younce


KELLY CRANDALL: The television networks moved away from Saturday night races because they said the windows and ratings were better. And late day Sunday accomplishes that. The weather isn’t always going to cooperate but we’ve seen races (like Las Vegas one year) scheduled late in the day because of how hot it is there. But overall, it’s about the network feeling when the best ratings are, and they feel more people are home on Sunday.

Q: If I was Michael Andretti, I’d make an offer to Gene Haas to buy both his NASCAR and Haas F1 teams, and brand them as both Cadillac. Apply for NASCAR to allow them to use CT4 or CT5 V Blackwings bodies. Toyota doesn’t sell coupe versions of the Camry and the Camaro is already out of production, so why not?

I believe the cross-sponsorship between the two series would be beneficial to all involved. Mahindra (for example) is a global company, and to be a sponsor on both teams would be an option to look at.

Dave, Orlando, FL

KC: I don’t see Andretti coming into NASCAR and starting from scratch. It seems like all their eggs are in the Formula 1 basket as far as doing that and the money being spent to make it happen. It would seem more logical, and I believe they’ve said it before, that if they came into stock car racing, it would probably be buying into an existing team.

It’s possible that we could see Marco driving for an Andretti-owned team in NASCAR someday, but they’re far more likely to buddy up with an existing operation than do it as a standalone team — at least in the beginning. Motorsport Images

Q: Just watched the NASCAR race at Sonoma and found it very entertaining once the spate of yellow flags was over. I’m curious to know why NASCAR insists on throwing a full-course yellow flag for minor off-course excursions that aren’t impeding traffic? Almost all the sanctioning bodies racing at road courses simply use a local yellow and the racing continues. Certainly, if the track is blocked or otherwise dangerous, a full-course yellow makes sense. NASCAR yellow flags require a lengthy time to gather everyone up, make a decision about when to open the pits, implement the pace car, etc., ad nauseam. The rhythm of the race gets thrown off kilter and the event drags on.

Mark Young, Arroyo Grande, CA

KC: There is no denying that NASCAR can be very inconsistent with its yellow flags. In fact, we saw that at Iowa Speedway when tires were going down and what got called for a caution and what didn’t. On road courses, NASCAR doesn’t believe in local yellows because they’ve stated in the past it comes down to the process of dispatching equipment and personnel and have them on the racetrack while cars are still running at full speed somewhere else.

Q: I have a question about the virtual energy tank at Le Mans. When the No. 50 winning car crossed the line at Le Mans it had 2% left in the virtual tank and took a full victory lap, albeit at a reduced speed. I would have thought the virtual tank would have reached 0% on the victory lap, but the car had enough gasoline to make it back to the pits. Is it OK that the virtual energy tank reaches 0% but as long as there is enough petrol in the tank for post-race scrutineering the car is still legal? 


STEPHEN KILBEY: This is a very good question, and thankfully there is a relatively simple answer.

The formula is designed around managing the amount of energy that each car is permitted to use in the race itself. The regulations for the FIA WEC Hypercar category specifically state that “for the last stint, the energy calculation will stop on the finish line at the checkered flag.”

That means that, as long as the No. 50 crossed the line with more than 0.0% of its permitted energy, the team would not be penalized. A slowing-down lap does not count towards that total.

Ultimately, the car’s energy percentage that you see in on-screen graphics is not necessarily representative of the actual amount of fuel on board.

Virtual energy tanks are topped up via a sensor on the fuel nozzle, on a sliding scale depending on the amount of time it is connected to the car for refueling. They can have more than that on board, but can’t use it all.

The time it takes to refill a virtual tank fully is precisely calculated to ensure that a car will receive more fuel than it needs for a stint, thus enabling it to complete formation and cooldown laps.

Virtual energy management, measured in megajoules via live monitored driveshaft torque sensors, has been a regular topic of discussion in the WEC paddock for the last two years since it was first introduced.

It exists as a concept to manage stint lengths in Hypercar (and now LMGT3). The rule-makers feel it is necessary due to the wide variety of car types competing in the same class. The key is that a car’s “virtual energy tank” and “fuel tank” should be effectively be treated separately.

In the case of Hypercar, because LMH and LMDh cars are significantly different and therefore challenging to balance, the “virtual energy tank” helps ensure that — in the spirit of BoP — one platform (or specific car) doesn’t hold an inherent advantage on fuel consumption. 

This does not remove a team’s ability to stretch the envelope on stint length via “lift and coast” techniques, though. The difference is you are saving “virtual energy” first and foremost, rather than fuel — as the ruleset allows for cars that burn fuel at significantly different rates.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, June 17, 2015

Q: Of course I love your body of work and your always honest opinions. You have been in our sport for some time,  so who are your top five all-time drivers for Roger Penske? If you list Will Power I will be saddened.

Mark McKinley, Floyds Knobs, IN

ROBIN MILLER: Mark Donohue, Rick Mears, all three Unsers (that counts as one vote), Tom Sneva and Emmo. I’m basing this on results because Mario and Gary B. were cursed.

Story originally appeared on Racer