The RACER Mailbag, June 5

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: Massive TV numbers for the Indy 500… and the next race is on USA Network. I understand NBC decides what goes where, and IndyCar is bumped by Women’s US Open Golf, but this is a short-sighted view, if not for NBC, but definitely for IndyCar. Any updates on the TV situation? I would hope someone at Penske has the brains to insist the race following the 500, always a ratings king, must be aired on network TV

Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA

MARSHALL PRUETT: I’ve had two significant figures in the IndyCar paddock and one big name outside of IndyCar tell me NBC has offered to place all races on network in a new deal, but they said Penske hasn’t jumped at the opportunity and is continuing to fish for the biggest payout.


I’ve also heard from multiple sources that heading out of Detroit, the prevailing belief is we’ll be setting our DVRs for FOX, FOX Sports 1, and maybe even FOX Sports 2 next year and beyond to watch IndyCar racing. I’ve heard NASCAR on FOX veteran Adam Alexander is a strong candidate to lead the broadcasts.

Related, FOX just informed about 150 FOX Sports employees in Charlotte, N.C., that they’ll be out of work at the end of the month. Not sure how those two items reconcile.

Q: We are taking our boys (8, 6 and 4) to their first race and chose Laguna Seca. We are going to be camping at the campground and I was wondering if you had any recommendations for where we should sit, and any must-see areas of the track?

Secondly, my middle boy has hopes of being an IndyCar driver like his favorite driver Will Power and is also really interested in being an IndyCar engineer (the more probable outcome). He loves solving problems and tinkering with his Legos to see what he can build. Is there anybody I could write to that might be willing to take a few minutes out of the busy race weekend to talk to him about engineering?

Steven Rollins, Riverside, CA

MP: Great to hear. I’ll be in Watkins Glen that weekend for IMSA’s 6 Hour race, so have fun in my absence. There aren’t many grandstands to use, so plan your days like you’re constantly camping with backpacks or a rolling cart to carry folding chairs and your food and drinks. The hill overlooking Turn 2 and the infield is great for the start; lots of action. The obvious place is atop the Corkscrew, and the blast up to the Corkscrew from the inside of Turn 6 is also impressive to behold. Same on the way down from the Corkscrew on either side of the track down to Turn 10. The stands across from pit lane could be worthwhile during the race as you’ll see lots of passing attempts into Turn 11 and pit stops. Send your email address to me and I’ll get you connected with a team or two to host you and your future race engineer for a visit.

Laguna Seca has grandstands all over the place. They’re called “hills.” Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Images

Q: What does Santino Ferrucci have to do or say for something to be done about his awful attitude? He has a long history of dangerous, vengeful driving and saying offensive, bigoted and intolerant things, and yet nothing besides a hollow apology after practice on the Kirkwood/Herta comments. As an IndyCar fan who happens to be gay I found that quite disappointing that what he said was largely unchallenged.

Is there any interest in Ferrucci from teams other than Foyt, or will his actions and words always be a barrier to progression, much like Dan Ticktum?

Paul, Glasgow, Scotland

MP: Awful attitudes, plus poor results, will remove drivers or team members from any racing series. Awful attitudes, plus strong results, usually don’t. There are exceptions, of course.

Santino has the Foyt team up to 12th in the championship and has been a central part in of one of IndyCar’s most amazing year-to-year turnarounds for the perennially beleaguered Foyt team. Unless he uncorks another gem on camera or launches Romain Grosjean into orbit in the coming weeks, I don’t foresee any changes to his employment status happening here.

His clashes with drivers, plus his societal, religious and political views, and whatever else, have not reached a point where A.J. is going to kick him out of the car. If he were to say something or do something that led the series or sponsors to intervene and call for his suspension or firing, that’s where action would be taken, but not pre-emptively.

Teams will tell you they want drivers to be angels, to be social media stars, and so on, but for most of them, all they care about is where their cars start and finish. All the positives and negatives found within people in the real world are found in racing, so it’s tough to find folks in the paddock — me included — who are free of sin. The only difference here is Ferrucci’s words were caught on camera.

It’s also worth overstating the obvious in saying that if his team or the series felt strongly enough about what Ferrucci said, the team and/or series could have taken action and made that action known. Other than being reprimanded in private by the series, I’m unaware of any fines or penalties being levied against Ferrucci by his employer or the sanctioning body. Based on its handling, this wasn’t considered a punishable offense.

On how his words were offered and received, here’s a bit of background: Santino reached out to me and wanted to share a public apology. It didn’t come across as scripted while he was speaking, nor did it sound insincere. He brought up Pride Month on his own and wanted to apologize to the LGBTIQA+ community. I also respect the fact that how you’ve received his words are different than my own, and I could be wrong in my perceptions.

I wish he hadn’t tried to use what he thought was an insult — referring to heterosexual males as being homosexual was once a “sick burn” as some might say, but it’s no longer tolerated as such by younger generations — which led to unimpressed reactions from IndyCar’s younger fans (but not just younger fans) moments after that went out on the airwaves. I also saw lots of “lighten up, people” and, “jeez, we’ve gotten soft” and harsher responses from older fans (but not just older fans) who’ve taken offense to others taking offense to the comment.

Between this and a new, third instance of Agustin Canapino fans threatening another driver following the hit he received from Arrow McLaren’s Theo Pourchaire, this extracurricular stuff is just exhausting.

Q: The 500 is over, the long hot summer is upon us, it’s now silly season in IndyCar. Just between us, lower the “cone of silence” and tell us what’s going on with Meyer-Shank, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Arrow McLaren, etc., etc.

Dave, Gahanna, OH

MP: Hoping my next installment of silliness will be out by the time you read this, Dave. One snippet to share is I thought Christian Lundgaard was going to have a bidding war for his services by bigger teams. That could still come to pass, but it’s currently looking like RLL might be the best option for him.

Q: From Indy to Detroit, from the sublime to the ridiculous. I fully understand the need for IndyCar to race in Michigan but man, there’s an iconic superspeedway purpose-built for IndyCar there lying dormant, and they race on this joke circuit instead?

Anyway, on to happier stuff. How do you think Louis Foster and Jamie Chadwick are coming along in Indy NXT? I well remember Jamie becoming a British GT champion at 16 [ED: in the GT4 class] and Louis tearing up Ginetta Junior and British F4 on the BTCC support bill, marking them out as youngsters to look out for in the future. They’ve got some fabulous young talents in Jacob Abel, Myles Rowe and Nolan Siegel to judge themselves against. Like many I was so impressed with Nolan at Indy and the attitude and potential he showed, but this is one top-quality junior class.

Budgets allowing, what chance of Louis making his IndyCar racing debut either this season or next, and does Jamie just need that extra season in NXT before she jumps up to the big league? I’m so glad she followed Pippa Mann and Katherine Legge to America and is building a professional racing career rather than being some patronizing tick-box exercise with a token Friday practice appearance in F1 once every year or two. Susie Wolff, look at Jamie. That’s what you should’ve done! Looking forward to seeing how Taylor Ferns gets on as well when she flies the flag for the USAC brigade on the ovals. Hope she does them and herself proud!

Peter Kerr, Hamilton, Scotland

MP: I keep waiting for a NXT driver to take charge of the championship, and with his recent form, Foster is looking like the one to do it. If I had to take an NXT driver today and drop them into an IndyCar seat this weekend, it would be Louis.

Jamie’s been my favorite story of the NXT season. She’s fighting at the front and that’s where she belongs. Chadwick, Foster, Jacob Abel and Nolan Siegel (and any others) face a serious shortage of open IndyCar seats to take next year, so I wouldn’t be mad if she did one more season of NXT.

Q: With all the technical advances, car reliability, driver fitness and features; is a 500- or 600-mile race as grueling as it once was? Minded, I couldn’t do a five-mile race, but how dumb is an Indy 650 or Coke 800?

Adam, Missouri

MP: Can’t say for Cup, but Indy isn’t the depleting ordeal it was before aerodynamics and tire technology made the cars less physical to wrangle. If we’re going to extend the 500, let’s do it for real with the 24 Hours of Indy.

Q: Why isn’t there a podium celebration for first through third after Indy? I’m not a believer in the “second place is first loser” business. Second place at the 500 is a pretty good day and should be acknowledged.

Keith Conroy, Minooka, IL

MP: Because nobody wants to see two miserable SOBs crying into their milk while the driver in the middle goes wild. Second and third get acknowledged with a lot of money and a lot of commiseration for losing the biggest race. I’m good with using a single spotlight on the winner.

I’m guessing that the second step of a podium is the last place Pato felt like hanging out after this year’s Indy 500. Dana Garrett/IMS Photo

Q: I am wondering if you gathered any further information regarding NBC’s potential renewal during the 500? For what it’s worth, I hope IndyCar chooses to renew with them. Would Kevin Lee replace Leigh Diffey in the booth?

Separately, are there any further updates on the A.J. Foyt biography? I’ve recently finished recently published books about the Bergdoll brothers and Cheryl Glass. I’m eager for another new title to read.

Kristopher Strebe, Seattle, WA

MP: Leigh is a longtime NBC employee, so I’m not sure why he’d be replaced if NBC continues with IndyCar. Leading into and coming out of Detroit, I’ve only heard that IndyCar is headed to FOX, so if that proves to be true, I’m sure FOX would do like many other networks have done and see if some of the former broadcaster’s talent would want to come along. Last I heard, the Foyt book should be available before Christmas.

Q: I have read reports about the possibility of Mick Schumacher coming to IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing. Is this true? What are you hearing?

Second, does something like this, with his name recognition, help get Mercedes or Volkswagen to IndyCar?

David Tucker

MP: I know Dale asked for help with phone numbers for a few F1/F1-adjacent drivers last year, but don’t recall if Mick was among them. Considering how ex-F1 drivers like Justin Wilson and Romain Grosjean (among others) have driven for Dale, it wouldn’t be out of the norm, but since the team is visibly underfunded this year, I’d think a high-salary guy like Mick would be a bad fit unless he somehow has a major sponsor to bring. Since Meyer Shank Racing has a vacancy, and it’s a paying car, that stands out as a better fit.

Would a German driver who can’t get an F1 drive lead a German auto manufacturer to spend tens of millions of dollars on an IndyCar engine supply program just because he got a drive in IndyCar? I love the idea of it, but that seems like a longshot.

Q: With all of the screens/transponders/technology available, why did race control take so long to get back to green after the McLaughlin/rain caution on Sunday?

Yellow flag periods seem to drag on too long in general. What needs to happen to shorten them up? The series appears unprofessional in these moments.

Gordon, Dallas, TX

MP: Was that the one where race control said it needed extra time to sort out the order of the cars? I got lost on which caution did what after the third or fourth one. We rarely get to see the entire cleanup process for most cautions, so it’s hard to say in a general way.

Q IndyCar needs to dress down its drivers and officials after the Detroit race. The amount of contact was embarrassing and the general driving standards were nowhere near worthy of a top-level professional racing series. Also, why are race officials taking any opportunity to throw the caution? If it’s a multiple pile-up, fair enough, but when Rinus VeeKay spun at Turn 1 they could have thrown a local yellow and see if they could get him fired up before the field came round again. If they couldn’t, then throw the full course yellow. We’re not NASCAR!

Jordan, UK

MP: Imagine a world where slow zones exist and local yellows can be used more often.

Q: I find it interesting that the black hat that Robin always wanted turned out to be Josef. Also, can we please go back to Belle Isle?

Jake Murray

MP: Seriously, please!

Q: The announcers always say it’s hard to get into reverse in a race car. Since it’s mostly electronics, why not make it “on demand?” Why isn’t there a reverse switch or button? It could be located in an out of the way location if they’re worried about tripping it accidentally.

Tim Davis, Detroit, MI

MP: Some race cars have exactly what you mention.

Q: I’m just starting to get back into IndyCar following a long absence. We did our first Indy 500 and the show put on at Indy was just awesome. I was surprised to see the Detroit Grand Prix not being televised on a major network. As I’m catching the race the announcers would mention the points championship periodically, which peaked my curiosity on that.

I went to the IndyCar website to educate myself and could not find any information on the points system anywhere. I did click on the rulebook link under Fan Info but got a “Page Cannot Be Displayed” screen. It seems as though the series championship is not being seriously promoted toward fan interest, but perhaps is just followed by those in the paddock. I know that trophy called the PPG Cup was quite a sought-after item years ago. The series may wish to look into that more, am I wrong?

John Masters, St. Peters, MO

MP: Hi, John, welcome back! I went to, typed in “IndyCar points system” and this was the first link returned.

And you are correct. On the standings page, it lists the latest championship rankings, but offers no insight or link to how the points are awarded. Seems like an easy fix for them to make.

Maybe Dixie’s secret all these years has simply been that he knows how to look up the points system. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Q: I can’t imagine who could have had a more eventful day at Detroit than Will Power, yet he still ended up with a positive result.

He had four penalties. A self-inflicted spin on the first lap that resulted in taking emergency service in a closed pit and a “restart at the back of the field” penalty on lap three. A lap 39 penalty for failure to pack up under yellow (I’ve never heard of that one), forcing him to yield three positions. A lap 44 penalty for “avoidable contact” forcing him to restart at the back of the field. Then finally a drive-through penalty for full service in a closed pit on lap 60.

Yet after all that mayhem he ended up in sixth place. Wow! And I never got to see any of it because my TV package didn’t carry the race.

Doug Mayer, Revelstoke, BC

MP: Wish I knew why Canadian IndyCar fans are being done so dirty with TV in recent years.

Q: While my hat’s off for Scott Dixon, the Detroit race reminded me of the first Nashville street race. There were way too many yellow flag laps and the drivers seemed to be surviving as if tiptoeing through a minefield instead of all-out racing. The track appeared way too narrow in some sections.

Speaking of street races, I caught a YouTube video of the inaugural Baltimore race many years ago. The crowd was amazing and the course itself appeared awesome. I’m curious to know whatever happened to that event? Other than Long Beach, it doesn’t appear any races other than Indy are as well-supported.

Dennis Jones

MP: Baltimore was an absolute blast. It was barely tenable on the financial side to start and only got worse. Then it went away. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Barber has a strong turnout. Same with Mid-Ohio. Toronto. Iowa has potential. WWTR has been good, but has slipped a bit. Hopeful for Milwaukee.

Q: I remember rookie Townsend Bell being on probation and then double probation from CART chief steward Wally Dallenbach Sr. (RIP) for running into everything but the pace car during his 2002 CART season. At what point is Ferrucci at risk of getting his competition license suspended? The dude is having on-track incidents weekly now. And the series seems fine with it?

Kevin Schram, Albuquerque, NM

MP: You know how some sports leagues are super strict and hand out fines/penalties/yellow or red cards/etc., in a flash to keep their players under constant control? That ain’t IndyCar.

Q: The race at Detroit reaffirmed something I’ve known for a while: No major race series in the world is as prone to trip over its own collective feet than the IndyCar Series.

Last week, IndyCar overcame a multi-hour weather delay to put on one of the best Indy 500s in years. With the added attention brought to the race by Kyle Larson and a good showing in the TV ratings, it seemed like IndyCar finally had some real momentum for the first time in a while.

And how did they follow it up? By putting on a total clown show of a race in Detroit.

To be honest, this is one of the reasons IndyCar struggles to get the respect it deserves, especially compared to F1. Too many races turn into debacles.

What can be done to avoid situations like this? Is it the tracks, cars, driving standards, race regulations, or something else?

Garrick, Alabama

MP: It’s not like IndyCar tried to put on a ****show, to be fair, but that doesn’t change the reality of both downtown GPs being crashy stinkers. The tiny and narrow track, with only one significant place to pass each lap (I’m not saying passes at other corners didn’t happen, but Turn 3 was the main site of passing and crashing), is problematic. Reconfigure the layout or move the race. Or, even better, move Milwaukee to the post-Indy calendar slot like it was for so long, and give fans two great ovals in a row before rolling the dice on another Detroit dumpster fire.

Q: I think a lot of IndyCar street course issues could be fixed by having IndyCar add the option of an F1-style full course yellow without having to send out the pace car, and having the restart zones be somewhere where the cars aren’t feeding into a hairpin without any separation.

I also think it’s time to have the wheel gun cables hang from a boom like they do in WEC or F1.

Am I missing something? These seem like fairly easy and somewhat obvious things to implement.

Will, Indy

MP: Something needs to change, for sure. IndyCar has been looking into hose-free wheel guns for a few years. Nothing is imminent, but stay tuned.

Q: It’s been a while since I have seen so many yellows in a race. Is this a driver issue? A track issue? Both? Or is this just one of those strange weekends that happens occasionally? Also, how hard is a weekend like this on the mechanics who have to fix the carnage?

Matt, Dallas, TX

MP: Both. It’s brutal. IndyCar likes to run a race the weekend after Indy to try and capitalize on the momentum of the 500, but it does nothing of substance to lift the series. I’m sure there are some extra viewers and ticket buyers, but not to the point of causing attendance or TV rating to spike, so I wish the series would think about its crews in a more considerate manner and give them a week off to recover.

Since going straight to Detroit says after Indy isn’t making the series more popular, give drivers and teams a chance to rest.

Starting at Long Beach on April 21, teams went from California to Alabama to race the following weekend. They had the next weekend “off,” but most teams were flat out prepping cars for the Indy GP the weekend after and the start of Indy 500 practice a few days later. Then it was into Indy 500 qualifying weekend, race weekend, then Detroit, and now Road America. And for good measure, there’s a full field hybrid test at Milwaukee two days after Road America, so there’s a ton of prep work to do for that.

That’s five racing weekends out of six, plus a test, before crews get to catch their breath. I realize NASCAR does 1000 weekends in a row, so it’s all relative, but there’s no reason to burn IndyCar crews to the ground before the halfway point of the season.

For IndyCar crews, we’re in the grind phase of the season. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: I just went to my first Indy 500 this past weekend. I had a great time with my dad. I can’t wait to come next year. I went to the memorabilia show and bought a Wickens diecast car, and it made me think of an article that was posted last year about Wickens trying to get a ride for the 2024 Indy 500.

I read how it would take major funding to get him a ride, understandably, because of his condition from the accident at Pocono back in 2018. Do you think it would be logical for Robert Wickens to go after some occupational therapy company to try and get sponsorship for a ride? The reason why I say that is because if he gets a ride obviously the car would need to be modified. The reason why I bring occupational therapy into this is because I watched a documentary on Billy Monger. He lost both of his legs in a horrific F4 crash and they were able to modify his car to race again.

Maybe it’s a little more complicated since they are different cars, but wouldn’t it be better to go after that occupational therapy field to give him the sponsorship money for the car and to help design the modifications needed to get him in the Indy 500 in the future?

Robert Ackerman

MP: I wouldn’t recommend focusing on one area of sponsorship over another. Also, Robert isn’t a sponsor hunter, so that’s a limitation. I’m told IndyCar and Dallara have already done the design work to make a hand-control car work for him, so it’s closer to becoming a reality than I’d previously understood. The momentum to make an IndyCar return, at least from when he and I last spoke about it a month or two ago, was waning. It comes down to someone wanting to spend the money and a team that wants to do it, and both are lacking. Making it happen in IMSA was considered to be the stronger possibility.

Q: Great Indy 500. I haven’t seen anything about this, so I decided to ask. On the last lap, Pato went under the white line leading coming out of Turn 2. Does the new rule only apply to the front straight? Would he have been taken down if he would have won?

Don’t get me wrong, I was pulling for Pato or Rossi. My heart sunk for Pato, seeing all wheels under the white line out of two. Now I’m wondering what would have happened.

Fan from Bama

MP: The main focus of policing was the line entering pit lane at Turn 4. I don’t think the series would have been happy about his diving low across the pit exit line, but with it being the last lap — you’d really hope nobody was having to leave the pits on lap 200 — and at a place that isn’t right in front of race control, it was a case of not hitting anyone on the inside instead of running the risk of smashing into the end of pit wall. I’m not saying it was right for him to do, but he chose the only place it could be done on the last lap that wasn’t going to draw a ton of scrutiny from race control.

Q: I’m trying not to puke. I just read Kyle Larson has been named Rookie of the Year at Indy over Christian Rasmussen. I guess I was preparing for this after seeing how they screwed over David Malukas and awarded it to Jimmie Johnson in 2022.

Nothing against Kyle or Jimmie, they are great drivers, but I sure question what criteria is used to select the Rookie of the Year. Apparently driving mistakes during the race and finishing position count for less than if you have a bigger fan following and generate more media hype.

Who votes on this and makes the decision? To me they have lost all credibility. What a farce! Why not just change it to Most Popular New Driver Award?

Craig, Slinger, WI

MP: Blame idiots like me in the media because that’s who does the voting. But as I wrote in my Indy 500 rewind column, the Speedway’s criteria for choosing the winner is so heavily skewed towards selecting the most popular rookie, it forces a Larson to be chosen. Granted, I voted for Rasmussen, but this will continue happening until racers rewrite the criteria.

Q: Maybe I missed it, but I don’t remember seeing on the big screens at the track, or hearing about, any driver coming up to congratulate Newgarden post-race?

Chris, Charleston, SC

MP: No clue. I was on pit lane talking to and interviewing people at the time. I’m guessing such things would have been seen on the broadcast, which I also haven’t gone back to watch beyond specific actions I wanted to review.

Q: Even in defeat, Pato O’Ward looks good. O’Ward has a lot of class and has handled bitter disappointment and being so close extremely well. We all know that he has talent in abundance. He will win the Indy 500, and a championship for that matter, sooner rather than later.

The level of emotional maturity Pato possesses must stand out not only to Arrow McLaren, but to other teams too. Will he be a free agent at the end of the season? Do you see another top-level team such as Penske or Ganassi trying to make him an offer he can’t refuse for 2025, or 2026 at the latest?

David Colquitt

MP: Pato’s signed to Arrow McLaren for many years to come. The thing I liked most (writing this Friday night after FP1 at Detroit) is how dead-eye serious he was after running P2 in the session. He’s still fuming after coming up short at Indy, and instead of letting that do destructive things, he’s channeling it into his work. I hope he can hold onto that laser focus because it’s something we haven’t seen from him for long stretches in previous seasons.

Q: This question is in light of teams solely attempting to run the Indy 500. Besides the biggest barrier to entry that is leasing an engine from Honda or Chevrolet, what is the process behind procuring a chassis and bodywork from Dallara? Does Cheeseburger Speedwerks get on the horn with Dallara and just say, “Hey, I need a chassis” and once the check clears does Dallara just send a tub, or are there other bits included? If you’re Indy 500 only, can you purchase just superspeedway front and rear wings?

Adam, Saylorsburg, PA

MP: Anyone can buy a new car from Dallara, if Dallara wants to sell them a car. And the specification for that car is whatever they’d agree to. IndyCar controls distribution of the cars and parts. For example, Abel Motorsports ordered a complete new car, but it was not delivered to them next door in Speedway, Ind., when the car arrived at Dallara’s U.S. base from Italy, because there were some updated components existing teams needed for the Indy Open Test, and rather than give those precious parts to a team that wasn’t running the test, IndyCar made sure its existing teams were given parts priority before the chassis was released to Abel.

Cheeseburger Speedwerks (or Abel Motorsports, in this case) can buy whatever off-the-shelf IndyCar bits it wants, but it might find itself going to the back of the queue behind the full-timers if certain components are in short supply. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

Q: Why on earth did Dixon not get penalized for his obvious block on Hunter-Reay at the Indy 500? In my opinion that’s about as clear as it gets and could have been an absolute disaster.

Second, I’m glad the “dragon move” was snipped on the frontstretch but did they ban it on the backstretch? Pato went quite low on the last lap.

Finally, I certainly don’t like how the weather messed up Larson’s plans, but wasn’t it awesome to see an evening 500? Obviously I wasn’t around in 1911, but it makes you wonder if that type of beautiful setting was what it was like at the finish in the early years!

Vincent Michael

MP: The dragon move was not banned in any way at any section of the track. Driving below the pit-in line was the only action that was banned, so drivers could still go from the far right out of Turn 4 to the far left — up to that line — and back without penalty. Banning the dragon move, or placing severe restrictions on it — making one or two moves, total, for example, instead of unlimited weaving — was on the docket for review for the 500, but it was tabled.

On Dixon, I’ve heard there were other camera angles we didn’t see on the broadcast that made it easier for a non-call to be made.

If we knew the races were going to be this good, let’s start every Indy 500 at 4:45pm ET. It was brilliant.

Q: If the IndyCar engine breaks, will the IndyCar ERS enable the drivers to get the car off the track, or back to the pits, on just the electric motor?

Rog, Columbus, OH

MP: All depends, right? The ERS is an energy storage and release device, so if enough energy has been stored at the time of the ICE failure, and depending on where it happens, and the length of the track, and whether the input shaft has been broken, or parts of the ICE exploded into the ERS, it could be possible for the car to be driven back to the pits.

Q: More venting than a question: Our 500 seats are in the NW Vista (Row EE). Without fail, idiots chuck beer cans at the catch fence throughout the race. Sometimes, they make it all the way to the fence, other times, they fall short, hitting fans below. These can-chucking idiots should be removed from the track, if not arrested! It takes no intelligence to chuck your empties during the running of the race. The only thing you prove is that you are an a-hole!

Matt, South Bend, IN

MP: I’ll send this one to IMS president Doug Boles. Not sure I’ve seen that thing happen at other sporting events, but it needs to end. I do, though, have a memory at a San Francisco Giants game when I was about seven and my grandfather took me to at the old Candlestick Park stadium. He’d gotten tickets along the right baseline back a ways from the field — directly below the upper deck — and some mischievous soul thought it would be funny to grab the giant mustard dispenser from one of the vendors up there — the kind with the pump on top to use on your hot dog or whatever — and walk out to the ledge, unscrew and remove the top and pump, and turn the gallon of mustard upside down and paint the people sitting about 15 feet to our left in yellow condiment.

Hopefully, I didn’t give the beer can-throwing a-holes you’re referring to a new idea.

Q: Did Rossi’s team get a full fuel load in the car during the final stop at the 500? I was surprised to see that they needed to hit a fuel number during the final stint.


MP: Among the contenders, Rossi was first to pit for his final stop (lap 169). Newgarden pitted two laps later (lap 171), so at a point in the race where Chevy and Honda let their contenders go to the most aggressive power-making engine maps to go for victory, Alexander had a five-mile deficit to consider due to when he stopped. Pato and Dixon were in on lap 172 and were able to attack as hard as they could.

Q: How bad is it for some of the Honda teams and title contenders right now for engine allocation for the year? Is Palou staring down two penalties this year? Do we have any idea what is causing a much higher than normal number of issues?

P.S. Since I know the series often reads the Mailbag, I need to tip my hat. IMS was dressed up in its proper Sunday best for the 500. I think I walked the entire facility before 10am and it was impressive. I already renewed for 2025 and can’t wait to see if I got a seat upgrade closer to Turn 1. Also, Doug Boles is so good at his job.

Ryan, West Michigan

MP: If we knew what Honda was getting wrong, so would they and they’d stop getting it wrong, so that’s a no, unfortunately.

Leaving Indy, not one Chevy driver was on their fourth engine (once you get to five, grid penalties start and that car no longer contributes points towards the manufacturers’ championship).

Leaving Indy, five Honda-powered drivers were on their fourth, and that’s with 12 races left to run. Two of those five in Kyffin Simpson and Graham Rahal had their teams get calls from Honda asking for engine changes for Detroit, so they got popped with six-spot penalties after qualifying.

To your specific point, yes, Palou, the championship leader, is on his fourth. Same with Ganassi teammate Marcus Armstrong and RLL’s Pietro Fittipaldi, so they’ll definitely be receiving penalties in the near future. Ganassi’s Scott Dixon is on his third, and of Honda’s other contenders (prior to the Detroit race), all three Andretti drivers and RLL’s Christian Lundgaard are on their third.

Doug will be the governor of Indiana in the next 10 years.

Q: Can we get a shoutout to Jonathan Diuguid?! The man is responsible for the rise of Porsche Penske Motorsport and now is an Indy 500 winner! And taking the No. 2 stand with so little notice? Very well deserved.

Daniel Borges Martins, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

MP: Indeed. JD’s an excellent guy, and excellent at his job(s). I posited the theory to Tim Cindric that Diuguid was primed to quarterback the No. 2 car at Indy and lead it to victory in a way he might not have been prepared to do years ago as a race engineer, and not because he was lacking in anything in that former role, but with the full-picture view he has now after assembling and running Porsche’s factory IMSA/WEC prototype program on behalf of Penske, he’s at an entirely different level of skill and understanding of the sport, which made being the boss of the entire No. 2 effort and calling strategy less of an overwhelming proposition on short notice. Tim agreed.

Diugiud did good. Motorsport Images

Q: I’ve been trying to engage with someone, anyone, who has the knowledge to talk about the engine competition in IndyCar right now. Chevy totally waxed Honda at the Speedway which I don’t think has happened so obviously in quite some time, if ever.

If the regulation changes you referenced last week were to slow down development on the current 2.2L TTV6, does this put Honda at a disadvantage that they can only make up with hybrid development? How different are the internals on both engines? Is there a group or a resource that dives into more technical aspects of the engine competition?

For a while I thought Honda was the company that took their engines more seriously, while Chevy just farmed out the work to Ilmor. I now see it as GM being totally hands-on and spending a ton of money and R&D on their engine where Honda seems awfully quiet. Am I reading this wrong?

Tim, Stamford, CT

MP: Other than changes to the headers and exhaust collectors on the Chevys and Hondas and the related alterations to turbo and wastegate positioning, there’s nothing we can see within the motors to know what’s been changed. Whenever I want to have someone laugh at me, I know I just need to go find folks from Chevy or Honda and ask them what they’ve done differently inside their motors, because that’s just not something they tell you in a competitive sport. If the engines were single-source, it might be different.

I’ve never doubted Team Chevy and Ilmor. They whooped Honda the first many years in this formula, then Honda gained the upper hand for a while, then it got really close, then Honda took it back in terms of drivers’ championships but Chevy got more manufacturers’ titles, and who knows where we’ll end up this year in both categories, although Chevy is looking like the MFG crown will stay in its hands.

If Honda stays, and if the mostly-frozen-development formula is implemented, there would need to be some criteria set before that freeze happened. Honda, or any manufacturer for that matter, wouldn’t agree to start the development lockdown while sitting on a notable power, torque, fuel economy, or reliability deficit. As I’d see it, both would need to submit motors to IndyCar for independent testing and benchmarking before signoff.

Q: The non-penalty on Scott Dixon for running Ryan Hunter-Reay into the grass was officiating at its inconsistent worst. Yes, Dixon is well respected, but that move was clearly a reaction block, not a positioning on the track. Do you think Ferrucci or one of the rookies would have been let off without a penalty for such a move?

Second, is there a plan at Arrow McLaren or IndyCar to hire a charm school teacher for Alexander Rossi? In the post-race interview he seemed to be heading in the direction of accusing Newgarden of cheating because somehow, he made the fuel conservation work and Rossi did not. He caught himself, but could not quite spit out a congratulatory comment that should have followed.

Marwood Stout, Camarillo, CA

MP: I hope Alexander never changes. He’s a unicorn that way. No other driver today, or any other era I can think of in IndyCar, is anything like him. His ragey-contempt for everything in life — mostly people — is a gift. And he can also be incredibly kind and sincerely warm when he wants to be that way.

I’ll take 100 Rossis over a driver who has nothing interesting to say, can only talk about racing, or merely wants to rattle off their sponsor’s names.

Q: What happens with the engine in Katherine Legge’s car? Seems that it blew quite early in the race. If it’s a Honda issue, maybe a bad part or incorrect assembly, does the team get a “credit” for future purchases, or are they out of luck?

And second, how much would you charge to watch a race with me and my Long Beach Turn 1 marshals from Charlie 7? If you watched with us you could answer all of our questions right then and there! We would even pack in your favorite beer and racing snacks!

Sean Raymond

MP: All depends on the team and driver. There’s no law requiring Honda or Chevy to send invoices to teams, so based on the situation, or the status of the team or driver with each manufacturer, some would get a bill and others would not. Hard to say here as Katherine is a favorite of Honda, but Coyne is a straight customer team, not a factory-affiliated one.

Charge you? If I can swing it, I’ll come watch some of the race with you next year and bring the beer.

Q: I was looking at the payout schedule by position/driver. I can understand that one-off drivers such as Marco would receive less than full-time drivers, but don’t understand someone like Sting Ray Robb, who’s been in the series, finished 16th and gets $238,300 while Romain Grosjean finished 19th, and gets $517,000.

Tom Corso, Rancho Mirage, CA

MP: Sting Ray is piloting an entry that did not receive a Leaders Circle contract in 2023 due to finishing outside the top 22 in points, so that entry’s payout at Indy is decidedly lower than a LC entry like Grosjean’s. His No. 41 is the renumbered No. 55 Benjamin Petersen drove to last place in the entrants’ standings — 27th of the 27 full-timers.

Q: I can’t remember so many engine failures in the Indy 500 for quite a while (except for grenading Buicks). It doesn’t seem like any of these failures were team- or driver-related, so will the teams earn grid penalties for this? Does Honda have any explanations for so many failures? I know that Chevy had their issues during high boost runs, but Honda basically got their rear-end handed to them this year.

D Thomas, Tell City, IN

MP: In IndyCar’s latest, but somewhat longstanding engine penalty structure, it’s the driver who pays the price for failures. No, Honda hasn’t explained what’s caused all of the failures; most manufacturers, across every global racing series, do not, so that isn’t a surprise to me.

Not one of the failures in May for Chevy or Honda, to my knowledge, were due to the driver or team.

Q: Timeline, 2026. In his first year in Formula 1, Kyle Larson says he won’t race at Monaco so he can run and win Indy for the second time.

All kidding aside, what can’t he do?


MP: Dunking a basketball is about all I can come up with.

Q: I was listening to Rossi’s radio at Indy and they told him to pit with Pato and Dixon on the second to last pit sequence. He saw Newgarden and McLaughlin stay out, so he ignored them and stayed out. He was then saving fuel while Pato and Dixon were full rich. If he had listened to them and pitted, does he win or at least finish in the top two? Would have loved to have seen his fast car not saving fuel for the last sequence.

Luke Entrup

MP: Rossi sure looked like he had something to work with if he was able to attack. At the same time, I think Newgarden’s car was just that tiny bit better. We’re only 51 weeks away from seeing if he can become a two-timer.

Rossi had about 96% of what he needed to become a two-time Indy winner a couple of weeks ago. And that’s pretty good. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Q: During the 500 victory banquet one of the speakers said that Josef’s car was brand-new and just delivered to the team a few days before the race. How much of the car can be changed between qualifying and the race? Second, I thought teams spent most of the year working to make the bodywork as smooth as possible. I would assume that there’s some variability to all of the car parts, so how much of the car was really delivered just a few days before the race? And how does a car get delivered to a team? Does it look like a car, or is it a bunch of parts that need to be put together?


MP: I was on a flight home when the banquet was happening so I don’t know what was said, but I’d assume they were referring to “before the race” as in before the race meeting started, not three days before the green flag. There would be no reason to replace the car he used to qualify third, obviously.

Q: What are the gear ratios teams are using for fifth and sixth gear at Indianapolis? I’ve always been curious to know just how close they are when watching qualifying, as there’s an obvious jump in top speed between third, fourth and fifth on the warmup laps, but the choice between fifth and sixth during the four-lap run seems like it takes a team of eagle-eyed engineers watching telemetry or a first-person vantage point from the cockpit. Are teams restricted to using specific gearing, or if there are options, how big is the set? And how do the exact gear ratios compare at Indy versus the other ovals and road/street courses?

Always love when you dive into the mechanical side of things in the Mailbag — feel free to over-inform!

Pete, Rochester, NY

MP: A classic “how long is a piece of string” question, Pete. There’s no single answer to offer as teams have plenty of ratio options to choose from and they’ll change those ratios based on ambient conditions. Gears are being changed once or more per day, at minimum, as teams try different downforce packages, engine settings — high boost and low boost — and so on.

Teams have software to tell them which ratios will produce which top speeds based on the car’s setup, and with ambient factors included. Depending on the conditions, the top few gears could be separated by just a few hundred RPM or more, if there’s a concern of greater drop offs in speed. You’ll see bigger splits in the gears at most other tracks; Indy is the only place where you’ll edge towards something in the region of 1:1 ratio in top gear.

Q: Were temporary airport circuits like Edmonton, Cleveland and currently Berlin-Tempelhof less expensive to set up than street circuits? Compared to the concrete canyon street circuits that became ubiquitous during the 1980s, airport circuits provide much better views for spectators in the grandstands. Many cities have airports in their immediate vicinity that are already abandoned or sparingly used for aviation purposes, and would seem to be possible sites for less claustrophobic temporary tracks that avoid the need to close downtown city streets. Why aren’t there more of them?

Keith Baxter, Toronto, ON

MP: Cheaper, yes, but not cheap. More airport tracks — all it takes is for motivated promoters to propose them, and if it would benefit the series, I’m sure it might happen again. But it all starts with someone trying to create the event.

Q: I’ve quit going to races a good half dozen times now. Between weather, red flags, Southwest middle seats, etc., it wears me out. But, just like Al Pacino, “they pull me back in.” I’ve booked me travel on points (refundable) and waiting till last minute to GA a ticket to Gateway. What’s the odds of a sell-out? How early should I get to the track for a decent seat? Will you be around to share some dark beers in the hotel/airport bar?

Shawn, MD

MP: Gateway hasn’t had an IndyCar sellout in a while, so you should be safe. There was no date clash last year so I could go to Gateway, but that clash is back this year with the big Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion historic event, so I’ll be with my favorite cars of yesteryear instead of my favorite IndyCars of yesteryear… and today.

Q: Last week a reader wondered why only NASCAR drivers do the double, and that IndyCar drivers don’t try it. A little history shows that of the five drivers who have done the double, three started their careers in IndyCar — John Andretti, Robby Gordon (five times) and Tony Stewart. Only Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson had not regularly driven IndyCars before they made their run at the double.

Stephen  Terrell

MP: Yep.

Q: Why has the racing world media been so quiet on the P2P infringement? What other sporting entity would be OK with the said owner of the entire entity deciding his teams level of punishment for a blatant rules violation? I am amazed this incident is already swept under the carpet. However the top officials of the entity had their hands tied because they get paid by the entity’s owner. Huge black sky hanging over IndyCar, IMHO. Josef Newgarden mentioning his suspended team members at the victory celebration says it all for me. They are cheaters who are probably laughing under their breath.

Susan Bournoville

MP: Can I encourage you to read the 10,000-plus words I penned in April and early May about this, and more in mid-May? Or is there an expectation that we in the media write weekly outrage columns to satisfy those who can’t accept the fact that this scandal broke, was thoroughly explored by many outlets, extreme criticism was levied towards the guilty party, the series, and the series’ owner, peaked, then peaked again when suspensions were handed down, then had a cold and unflinching Q&A session with the owner of the entity that owns the series and the team that cheated? What more is needed?

Penske, who wields all of the power, has decided this is over and done with, which I’ve criticized, and there’s no recourse or mechanism in place to change that. So, you have two choices: Live in a perpetual state of anger over something you can’t change, which is a sad way to go through life, or accept the situation for what it is and go on with your life, which is what I’ve done.

I hate every way this was handled, as I’ve said and written extensively, but I also have other things in life that are far more important to me than a billionaire taking every shortcut imaginable to put this affair to bed. A friend from the series forwarded a quote from Penske today where he tried to play the role of a victim when asked about the ordeal. He just doesn’t get it, but that’s his right.

Q: I am curious about your answer to David from New Albany in last week’s Mailbag when you mentioned not getting into the weeds about Ackerman steering.  As a stooge during the late ’70s for some sprint and midget teams, many followed the book Sprint Car Technology by Steve Smith, which said there should be zero Ackerman in the steering geometry. The mantra back then (to change and butcher Tom Hanks’ classic line from a movie that came later) was “There’s no Ackerman in racing!”

Did technology change?  Please, get into the weeds.

Mark Beer, lost in the Colorado mountains

MP: I couldn’t tell you a thing about 1970s sprint car setups, but yes, it’s a thing — and a good thing in our world. Here’s an article you might enjoy.

Q: Pato could bring half a million people if there was a race in Mexico.  Just saying.

Chris Fields, Indy

MP: He does have a lot of friends.

Pato = popular. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: So after the rain delay we thought we were going to enjoy a dry race like everyone else. Except a pipe started leaking at about lap 100 over Paddock Section 3, Row LL. At least three rows were affected. People were wearing their ponchos. It made the entire experience miserable.

No IMS official came to check on us ticket holders. Maybe move us to some dry seats. Heck, offer a towel. One maintenance guy with a Milwaukee tool belt came looked up, left and never came back, and the water never stopped for 100 laps.

This was my 32nd 500. I re-ordered our tickets, hopefully moving out of this section and away from this leaking pipe. We really don’t want another race ruined.

Patrick, soggy in Milwaukee

MP: Yikes. Please tell me it wasn’t a pipe coming out of a bathroom.

Q: I’m in no way criticizing the race that we had for the 500, but I keep feeling like bringing back the apron could help with the racing and generally add another element of excitement to the race. I saw lots of clips of races from the 1980s and ’90s in the days leading up to the race, and seeing people dive down onto the apron to complete a pass just looked amazing. I know the cars are very different now, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t still be able to run down there if the grass was mowed? Why did they take the apron away, and do you think it could be brought back? And if it was, do you think it would add anything to the race?

Max Camposano, Philadelphia, PA

MP: Bringing back the apron is better described as “completely changing the layout of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” Yes, the racing was better with the apron thanks to the wider track in the corners that allowed for more daring and creative arcs for drivers to take. It was changed for the sake of safety, namely so drivers didn’t exit the pits and go straight onto the track.

Also keep in mind that when we had the apron, we had no pit speed limits, so drivers fired onto the low line in Turn 1 at a higher rate of speed. Doing that today, with the pit speeds in mind, would be the most dangerous scenario imaginable.

Q: I may be on my own island, but I am tired of the anti-Penske snark.  In a 100 Days to Indy episode, Will Power said what happened with P2P was an accident, and I believe him. I believe him because I feel that Team Penske had highly competitive cars for St. Pete, without any advantages, and probably had the field covered anyway (as exhibited by Power). So why would they risk the penalties that have been applied?  They were outside the rules and deserved what they got, but everyone should get over it already.

Bruce, Philadelphia, PA

MP: Sure, but Josef used P2P illegally to run away from Pato on that last restart, so using Power as the example for St. Pete isn’t the one that best fits the situation. In fact, Josef’s blazing domination and eight-second margin of victory over Pato is the perfect scenario to demonstrate how that extra P2P time helped to create that monster victory.

All of that aside, I hear you. Getting caught comes with a lot of downsides that go beyond the penalties handed out by the series. I wish it never happened.

Q: Can you explain how drivers’ motorhomes are handled? Are they owned by the teams, or do many drivers buy their own? Is this a significant contract perk? Who drives them to the next race? Do all drivers have a motorhome, or do some stay in hotels?

I’ve seen so much more of drivers, families, and the motorhomes on 100 Days to Indy and realized I’ve never read about them.


MP: Another “how long is a piece of string” question. Some are owned, some are leased, some are rented. If it’s a team owner’s bus, it’s probably owned/leased/rented by the team and listed as a business expense or asset. Same for drivers, but through their LLC or S-Corp. Some have family or friends who drive them, others hire dedicated drivers, and sometimes team members do the driving. No, they do not all have buses, but many do. The veterans tend to be the ones with families who want that mobile base and comfort. The younger drivers, who often make less money, can take a little while before forking out all of that money.

Q: What was the difference between Chevy and Honda this year?  Was it horsepower, gearing, luck, drivers or what? Chevy had a dominant month. Also, I thought Peacock’s coverage all week was top notch. For anyone who’s never been to the race, I suggest going once. There’s no describing 300k fans in one place.

Finally, and this is nothing against Larson, but drivers should forget the double. It’s a fantasy that doesn’t ever work at anything other than pre-race publicity.

Pete, Ohio

MP: Chevy won with better power and reliability. Honda seemed to have a slight fuel economy edge, but it’s hard to say if that was a true advantage or if it was making less peak power and therefore burning slightly less fuel.

I know a lot of folks hate NBC, but I’m a fan and have been for a good while. We went 10 years between drivers attempting the double. That feels like a nice interval.

Q: I watched with interest as Helio Castroneves had been running in the top 10 six to eight seconds behind the leader prior to the last round of pit stops. He then fell off the radar and ended up finishing 20th. Could you shed some light on what happened to him?

I also am curious about Scotty Mac, who was right there with Newgarden most of the race and then following that last stop just didn’t have anything for him. Being the only one in the Penske stable who had never won the 500, we were all pulling for him.

James Herbert Harrison, Overland Park, KS

MP: Scotty lost the balance on his car, and according to Helio: “We were a little on and off today. But unfortunately the gears we had on the car really ended up hurting us on the restarts. It was not a very typical race with how the clouds and shadows came in. And I had a mistake on the last pit stop — we just locked up the rear and went a little long, unfortunately. I don’t think we had a car to win, to be honest, but we had a shot to be to be in the top 10, for sure. But great job this month for the whole MSR team, I’m focused on next year and being back here again!”

Q: A few questions regarding IndyCar 2025. First, the status of the TV negotiations. I have heard that FOX is a serious bidder. Two, I know you recently commented that you haven’t heard much on the schedule for 2025, but is Richmond a realistic option.? Third, any silly season rumors? Thanks.

Dale “The Old Codger,” Chesterfield, VA

MP: The codger! FOX is still interested, according to Penske’s Mark Miles. We did a story on the state of negotiations among our Indy coverage that might be worth reading. I’ve not heard a thing about Richmond. I’d love to go back, though. Lots of silly season stuff. I hope to have an update out this week before I fly to Road America.

Q: Curious with so much being read about Josef’s Indy payout, is that prize money paid directly to the driver or split somehow among the team and car owner? Also, does that vary from track to track?

Bob Frankish, Cleveland, OH

MP: This is the piece-of-string-iest Mailbag in quite some time. All depends on how a driver or their manager/lawyer negotiates their contract. Josef’s lawyer is someone who hopefully captured a nice percentage for his client, and it’s not uncommon for it to be a 50-50 split between the team and driver. Crew tend to get year-end bonuses with a season’s worth of prize money given at once. It’s usually a fraction of a percent. Not sure how to answer the last question.

Indy was a good payday for everyone in this photo. But as for how it was broken down, you’d have to ask them. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Any updates you can share on the status of IMSA’s next TV deal? I’ve seen next to nothing written on IMSA’s next TV deal, which to my understanding was also expiring after this season?

John, Chicago, IL

MP: No deep insights to offer other than I expect IMSA to stay on NBC and to take a more prominent place in NBC’s coverage. Provided IndyCar does head to FOX, that would open up some nice network slots for IMSA to fill.

Q: This story at Ars Technica got me thinking about remotely piloted race cars. Now they are talking about AI-driven cars, but my question is this: If we took the driver out of the cockpit of an open-wheel car and it was remotely piloted (using an augmented reality helmet, etc.), how fast of a lap time and average lap speed could we achieve at Indianapolis before the car spins off the track, like when your 4-year-old sees how fast their Hot Wheels can take a plastic track turn?

Doug, Stafford, VA

MP: Hard to answer a theoretical question about something that has never happened at Indy (I’m aware of the autonomous Indy Lights cars race that neither went impressively fast nor captured the imagination of fans).

I’d imagine the speeds would be similar-ish, but you’d have steaming piles of Dallara DW12s landing in the IndyCar administration office parking lot across the street from Turn 1.

Q: Very interested in carrying on the positive vibe from last weekend, but have confirmed that the Detroit race broadcast is not available in Canada. I have attended and supported the series at every Toronto race since the inaugural in 1986. Would very much like to receive a logical answer as to why I should continue to invest in the series, as it is evident that the series is not interested in supporting the Canadian fan base?

Sadly, and expectedly, this year’s race will be my last.


MP: It has been a while since we got a letter from Canada saying the person felt like they were loved, seen, and heard by IndyCar. I’m sorry for that, Mike.

Q: What are your early thoughts on Kyffin Simpson? He certainly hasn’t been the dumpster fire many thought he would be. How do the other drivers feel about him? Does he have a future in IndyCar if the family funding runs out?

Tobey Taylor

MP: The Simpsons could buy Penske Entertainment, and probably all of Roger’s businesses, and not notice the expenditure, so there’s no risk of coming up short on funding.

He’s just what I thought and said he would be: A kid who’s short on open-wheel mileage, but extremely experienced in big and fast prototypes and in forever-long endurance races, which would make him better than all of the naysayers predicted. He still spins at least once a weekend, usually in practice, but in the races, he’s been solid. Not blazingly fast and daring at all times, but solid. This is a rookie season where his team is focusing on teaching him how to walk in IndyCar. Next year, it will be about learning how to run. The year after, it will be about learning how to sprint.

He’s a nice, quiet kid. I haven’t heard other drivers bring him up in the course of our conversations, and compared to some other rookies in recent years who were often being called out for dumb or ignorant on-track behavior, I figure having nothing said about Kyffin’s a really good thing at this point in the season.

Q: Why doesn’t F1 have one car go out at a time to qualify, or even just some number less than 20? There are always issues with someone holding someone else up. The time taken to do three qualification sessions could even still be less if one car went out at a time (for example, one lap to warm up and two laps to post a quali time). For all the ways F1 is advanced in technology, prestige, etc., the qualifying is pretty laughable.


CHRIS MEDLAND: F1 used to do exactly this, but it was deemed boring and I can understand why. You had spells where cars that had no chance of qualifying at the front were on track, and you’re watching them fight for 18th or 19th. But it also meant an unfair advantage for some, especially those running last with the best track conditions (or if rain was coming in then the worst).

Having them all out on track together helps ensure they all have the same chance, which is how it should be in my opinion. Monaco is always going to be a problem and is perhaps the one track where drivers should be split into two groups to reduce traffic, but once Q1 is done then it’s always less of an issue anyway.

Q: Jak Crawford has a lot of talent and started the season strong, but has been struggling lately. He is in the Aston Martin driver development program, which doesn’t seem promising given the current driver lineup in F1. He had a test with the FE Andretti team. He is only 19 years old. Where do you see him going in 2025? Back to F2? Sports cars? IndyCar? FE? do you still think he has a chance in F1?

Paul Hirsch, Westlake, OH

CM: Good timing on mentioning Jak, as he has been testing F1 machinery this week and I’ll be speaking to him about it in Montreal. He’s had a few tough weekends with reliability and team errors, but the good thing is the F2 championship is still wide open so there’s plenty of chance to make amends in such a long season.

If he impresses Aston in his F1 tests and doesn’t win the F2 title this year then perhaps they will back him for a further season in F2 to win the championship, but otherwise it becomes tricky as he’s not really in the F1 conversation quite yet with all the movement this year.

I’d hope he would take on a reserve role with Aston Martin, carry out plenty of testing in the same way Jack Doohan has been doing, and have a chance to still earning a future drive if one opens up. I always prefer to see drivers racing as part of that sort of schedule, but it doesn’t appear to have hurt Doohan’s chances — at the moment, at least.

The FE links with Andretti could be good on two fronts as well, not only to give him a chance at a race seat in that series if he needs it, but also to put Crawford in the frame if Andretti does get an F1 team in future and is looking at American driver options.

Crawford’s Andretti ties could come in handy a couple of years down the road. Dom Romney/Motorsport Images

Q: I think it is time that F1 changes its red flag rules to be like American racing series, where you are not allowed to touch the car during red flag periods. Giving teams a free pit stop and allowing others to repair cars that were damaged and would have been out of the race is crazy.

The present policy of allowing these repairs and tire changes has ruined many a race. While it may have not changed who won Monaco this year, it would have changed the finishing order as Sainz and Gasly would have been out.

What are your thoughts on this?

Mark B., Floral City, FL

CM: On the whole I agree with you Mark, especially relating to tire changes. The reason they are allowed though is because teams say it’s a safety requirement. I spoke to Mario Isola about it last week and a number of teams found cuts in their tires after a big crash at a past race, and said it was proof that they needed to change their tires under the red flag to avoid a failure on the restart.

When you have safety as the basis for a rule, it’s always tough to change it, but I think it should be that you’re only allowed to change like-for-like tires (so the same compound) rather than do what happened in Monaco, which is change compound and then never need to stop again. That means strategies aren’t ruined by red flags, and pit stops still need to be made under some form of racing condition.

When it comes to damage repairs, I think I prefer teams being able to work on their cars in that sense. It can be very impressive to see, but also it’s usually the case that it’s better to have more cars in the race than not. Of course there are times it backfires and potentially a race-changing bit of damage is addressed that helps the dominant car win, but in general I think it’s better to allow that and have more cars out there.

Q: How the hell does NASCAR penalize the driver who threw a punch after being wrecked, but not the driver who intentionally used his car as a weapon in the All-Star Race? I know NASCAR is hesitant to assign penalties for on-track incidents. I have heard the phrase “let the drivers police themselves” used many times on broadcasts. Well, as far as I am concerned, Ricky Stenhouse followed through with the NASCAR policing policy as a pit lane confrontation was the only retribution Kyle Busch was going to receive for the intentional and dangerous act. NASCAR’s reaction? The guy who threw a punch is penalized and Kyle Busch goes scot-free!

Busch’s on-track actions could have injured several people. What a screwed-up system. NASCAR is the only major racing series in the world that acts in this fashion. At some point a driver is going to be seriously injured and NASCAR will be responsible. When will NASCAR start doing what every other racing sanctioning body does and start handing penalties out, at least for intentional actions?

Bill M, Austin, TX

KELLY CRANDALL: NASCAR penalized Ricky Stenhouse Jr. because he had a cooling-off period between the time of the on-track incident and the fight. Matt Crafton faced the same penalty for the fight with Nick Sanchez at Talladega Superspeedway last year. NASCAR views heat-of-the-moment confrontations differently. As for Busch using his car to retaliate on Stenhouse, in this case NASCAR did not see the contact as egregious or as intentional as everyone else did. But a week later Austin Hill was penalized for staying on Cole Custer’s bumper down the backstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway and wrecking him under caution. They are always judgment calls from NASCAR and they don’t always get them right, or at least the way many others would have reacted.

Q: What is the deal/debate/holdup with Kyle Larson’s waiver? If he skipped the Cup Series to race IndyCar every other weekend, it would make sense exclude him from the playoffs. But he had every intention of starting in Charlotte, and I fail to see what the benefit would be of penalizing him.

This was an opportunity to compete in the, largest, most historic, and most prestigious event in American auto racing. Larson did nothing but represent NASCAR and stock car racers in this event with class and dignity. NASCAR racers deserve to be represented in the Indianapolis 500, and it’s frustrating to imagine that this stupid waiver system might penalize Larson, and discourage similar attempts, robbing fans of the chance to see their drivers represented at such a major event (not to mention playoffs).


KC: NASCAR has not spoken about the waiver and why it is taking so long to make a decision, so it’s only speculation at this point. [ED: Larson’s waiver was granted as this week’s Mailbag was being put together]. The argument, possibly, could be made that he didn’t have the intention of starting at Charlotte because he didn’t. The choice was made to stay in Indianapolis when weather moved in and it became apparent that he would not make the start of the Coca-Cola 600. Perhaps, that is part of what NASCAR is caught up — choosing to run another series instead of coming to Charlotte when Hendrick Motorsports and Larson had been previously saying that NASCAR was the priority.

However, I can see arguments on both sides about how many waivers NASCAR has granted in the past, how this is a rare circumstance of not competing in the Cup Series race, and so on. It seems NASCAR is debating all those arguments behind the scenes right now as well since a decision hasn’t been made when I think everyone in the industry, and the fan base, assumed it would be granted as soon as it was requested. Larson isn’t being penalized; it comes down to whether NASCAR enforces what the rule book says.

Q: I was going to tune into the Cup race at WWTR after IndyCar was over with, only FOX had the Cup race on FS1, which I don’t get because (gestures at the crazy high cable fees). In its place on prime-time FOX was… pickleball. Seriously. FOX chose pickleball over the Cup race?  How did FOX get the rights to any NASCAR race in 2025 if they are choosing pickleball over NASCAR?


KC: From what I hear, pickleball is becoming quite popular. I know nothing about it nor does it interest me, but that seems to the word around social media. Anyway, I cannot offer any insight into why television networks make the decisions that they make and I don’t work for a network to have any idea on how those decisions would be made. Fox Sports paid a lot of money to have broadcast rights to NASCAR and make whatever choice they want, though.

Q: With the news of SHR closing down, it’s sad that an organization that was looking like it could be the next JGR or HMS is soon to no longer exist, and the lack of involvement/interest from the ownership can be blamed for the demise in my opinion.

Finally, what absolute heartbreak on the final lap for Ryan Blaney to go from cruising to a win to being the last car on the lead lap! Just an absolute gut punch. I also want to say that Austin Cindric deserves many congratulations for his win. Granted his win came at through misfortune of his teammate Blaney. Cindric had a fast car all race long and was up there all race. He deserves to be talked about for a positive performance, especially a win!

Kevin, Arizona

KC: I disagree that a lack of involvement and interest from the ownership group at Stewart-Haas Racing is the sole reason for its impending closure. The organization has gone through a lot of changes over the years including personnel, drivers, and losing multiple big-time sponsors. There was also the huge investment of the Next Gen car. I think the joint statement from Tony Stewart and Gene Haas was pretty straightforward about how much it takes to run a successful team and both being at a point in their lives where they need to move on.

Austin Cindric was fast all weekend and was there to capitalize when the race fell his way. That doesn’t happen without a fast car, good strategy, and being in the right place at the right time. It was job well done by everyone on the No. 2 team and a much-needed day. The team is fully capable of more days like that, but it just hasn’t jived the last two years.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, June 3, 2015

Q: There is often discussion about increasing the personal profile of the drivers. I’ve often felt that the drivers should lose the sunglasses when being interviewed on television. I’m sure that they are paid to wear them, I get it. Face time is important to people trying to raise their profile. Helio: wearing the damned headphones out of Gasoline Alley. I guess his wife and daughter didn’t have anything to say to him. Need I even mention the GoPros on the baseball caps? Really? Your coverage of the sport is invaluable.

Brian Bristo, London, Ontario

ROBIN MILLER: You are spot on. It’s hard enough to recognize an Indy driver without the sunglasses, and it’s half-assed offensive as well. My only explanation for headphones is that these guys watch too much pre-game NBA basketball.

Story originally appeared on Racer