The RACER Mailbag, May 15

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

Q: I see Roger Penske suspended some crew and Tim Cindric for two races. Sort of a day late and a dollar short on integrity. I reread the B.S. comments from Newgarden, acting so naive. I still can’t fathom that Power had the same software settings and yet did not cheat. If Penske was a leader he would clean house and fire these clowns. It stinks that the 500 is coming, but it is now clouded. If the series wanted attention they sure got real fans stirred up. Guess even bad press is better than no press.

Craig B. Leland, NC

MARSHALL PRUETT: I’ve never agreed with the “all press is good press” deal. We look like idiots. Based on the TV audience size at Barber just days after the scandal broke, it did nothing to put more eyeballs on the series and the race; the audience actually shrunk by 12.5 percent from the Barber race in 2023. Scandal… drama… and nobody seemed to care.


Q: How much of an impact are the Penske suspensions really going to be on the team for the month of May? In NASCAR, for example, the crew chief gets suspended (usually multiple racers for an infraction), and you get the impression that’s significant to the competition of the team at a race event. I’m sure for someone like (senior data engineer) Robbie Atkinson, the suspension is going to have an impact, given the publicity. But, in general the suspension seemed superficial and more a PR move, given that it was self-imposed and not handed down from IndyCar. That actually seems to be the worst part of it.


MP: If Penske was serious about sending a message, he would have actually suspended them. Turning off their access cards. Taking their laptops and phones. Sending them home for the rest of the month like they are on four separate islands where no contact with the race team at Indy is allowed and no work product can be done.

You’re “suspended” but can still do your full jobs before and after cars are on track at the Speedway each day? That’s not a suspension; that’s a time-out.

Jon ‘Myron’ Bouslog  kept watch over Newgarden’s No. 2 in Cindric’s absence during the Indy GP, and will move across to Will Power’s car for the 500. Jonathan Diuguid will take time out from overseeing the Porsche Penske Motorsport sports car program to fill the vacancy on Newgarden’s pitwall. Motorsport Images

Q: So, at the Indy GP,  Rahal and Armstrong both had brand-new engines let go before they even ran two laps at speed. Since they’re only allowed four engines for the season, they will probably suffer penalties later in the year for exceeding the engine allotment.

When Honda takes them back and if it finds that there was a manufacturing or assembly defect that was Honda’s fault and they find it is through that whole series of engines, is there any kind of provision that would allow IndyCar to waive the penalty for using an extra engine? Say Honda built 12 engines that had the same defect, they had two fail, found the cause and pulled back the other 10 before they were used, could the two teams that had failures be given a pass?

Michael Pennington

MP: Due to higher usage of engines in pre-season testing than was forecasted, Honda chose to start changing motors after Barber instead of after the Indy GP, and they had the two failures with Marcus Armstrong and Graham with the new motors which were sent back for inspection and fixing. On the Chevy side, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi also had motor issues at the GP.

IndyCar has a policy that says if the motors can be fixed without major work — I’m paraphrasing — they can go back into service with no penalty. But if the motor needs to be torn apart and broken items need to be replaced, or if a bad batch of parts have been identified and all need to be updated after they’ve been pressed into service, that would fall out of the scope of a quick and easy fix. If an issue was found with one or two and the others with the same issue haven’t been installed and used, the manufacturers could apply fixes without penalties being involved.

IndyCar doesn’t care on the how or why; it has a strict policy of four engines and 10,000 combined miles of use for the $1.45 million annual engine lease per entry. Stick to the four, and there are no penalties. Need to go beyond the four, and there are problems.

Anything other than the quick/easy scenario is treated by IndyCar as an “unapproved change.” So for those who needed engine changes last weekend, they’ll need to go to a fifth engine at some point late in the season, and any engines beyond the four included in the annual engine lease come with grid a grid penalty. Same for the sixth, seventh, and so on.

Q: At Indy in Friday’s first Indy GP practice, both Rahal and Armstrong had to replace a new motor with less than a couple laps running time. The NBC crew indicated that this would likely cause a grid penalty later in the season due to the need of a fifth engine. Can’t those engines just be repaired by Honda and sent back to the teams to use without burning an engine? I can understand some manufacturer’s penalty for supplying what appears to be a faulty engine but to penalize a driver and team for an engine loss in practice and not a race seems excessive. Marshall, we’re talking practice here. Practice! Is there any appeal process?

Dave Pisula

MP: Allen Iverson would be livid! IndyCar has changed the penalty at least twice since we went to the new formula in 2012. It’s solely a hit on the manufacturers in the manufacturers’ championship, and it’s been a hit on the team/driver, and the manufacturers. I’ve never understood the driver/team part, unless someone left an oil line undone and the crew caused it to blow.

Q: Seeing the astonishing results by Nikita Johnson, I wondered if a Ganassi or similar team have signed him? If this was a F4 driver in Europe a F1 team most probably would have. In fact, maybe they will snatch Johnson from the IndyCar ladder and place him in F3 or similar next year. Here is hoping an IndyCar team is looking to the future.

Oliver Wells

MP: I’d put good money on more than half of IndyCar’s team owners having no clue Nikita exists, much less drives race cars and has been doing big things in the USF Championships for the last two seasons. That being said, based on the results to date, a smart team owner would look to get him in their development pipeline, along with Max Garcia from USF2000.

Q: Why is anybody surprised with the Penske penalties? Anybody remember the acid-dipped Camaro in Trans Am circa (late 1960s)?

Second, IndyCar is losing out to the IMSA and WEC in interest and technology. IndyCar was always the series that lead technology, but not anymore. F1 fans, please no comments — only one winning team per year.

Last, it would be awesome if IMSA and WEC could come together and end their season with a race for GTP and Hypercars only. Don’t care which track or continent. Eleven GTPs and 19 Hypercars would be awesome. Your take?

Rick Schutte

MP: I miss the days when prototypes were so numerous, we had GTP/GTP-Lights races that were separate from IMSA GTO/GTU races. Same for the 24 Hours of Le Mans being filled with only Group C/C2 cars. An all-GTP/Hypercar jam would make me so happy. Road America. Eight hours. Let’s do it.

Q: Double question: The cheating scandal has to muck-up Josef Newgarden’s free agency chances, no? And will we ever see Sage Karam back at the 500? McLaren is my favorite team, they could use a 500 driver.

Shawn, MD

MP: Doubtful on Josef; as we wrote right after the penalties were announced, the team was working on an extension for him. Prior to that, I’d heard Arrow McLaren, the main team that had an interest in him other than Penske, was informed he was no longer on the market, which led to asking Team Penske about the situation and team president Tim Cindric telling us they were putting a new deal together to keep him.

Hopefully that works out for them because he could be a contender for championships and Indy 500 wins for at least another decade. Also, and no disrespect to any of the other free agents, but there’s not a single person available Penske could hire to replace Newgarden who is better than Newgarden. Not keeping him would make the team weaker, simple as that.

Q: I would like to have this question answered by the powers to be as it will mean a great deal to me to decide (not that the recent demise helps me decide) whether to keep supporting what we call IndyCar.

I am a 58-year-old previous Indiana resident whose family has supported CART, IRL and IndyCar since around 1970. Our family has also supported the Indianapolis 500 by renewing 12 seats in the Northwest Vista Row NN & PP since 1972.

Will IndyCar promise that the fishtail (blocking) racing at the end of the 500 will not continue? This is not only dangerous, but flat-out blocking the drivers behind. The excuse of breaking the draft is sickening. It abandons the one-move rule in racing and I can guarantee this behavior would not be allowed on the first lap, so why the last laps? I have not, and I will not support this type of racing considering the investment I personally put into supporting this series.

During the COVID years I watched this race on TV with family members that normally attend this race and it was very enjoyable and much easier than attending. With the way that the ticket renewal system works for the 500, I want assurances that this kind of racing does not continue. I have been around enough for the decades of “Penske yellows,” and now we have “Penske PTPgate.”’ Get rid of the red flags for persuasion, and be sensible like Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. wanted the 500 to be… The Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Not to “Let’s change the outcome for our benefit.” Last year’s beneficiary: Shell Oil.

PS: Could you imagine Anton standing on the platform with fishtailing cars coming for the checkered flag? No, he was a sensible businessman. Please Roger, become another one of those sensible businessmen.

Jeff, 45 minutes from Mid-Ohio

MP: Thanks, Jeff. The “powers that be” aren’t under contract to the Mailbag, so they won’t be responding.

The series had a note in its pre-season discussion topics with its drivers about ceasing the “dragon” move as it has been dubbed, but it didn’t transition into an actionable item it will police. So, if that’s a condition to continue following the Indy 500, you will be disappointed with the results.

I hated the move the first time I saw it and want it gone immediately as well, but IndyCar isn’t bowing to my wishes, or yours.

The powers that be haven’t slain the dragon, although they did clip its wings a little – this year, drivers are no longer allowed to cross the line that extends from the atenuator. Motorsport Images

Q: To Jeff in Colorado in the Feb. 21 Mailbag asking how to obtain a ringtone: I took the video and extracted it to an M4A and MP3 file (attached here and here). My phone, which is not a smart phone, works off MP3 files but I researched that AAC or M4A files may be used for smartphones.


MP: Let me know where to collect my royalties.

Q: Do you know what drivers drink during the race? Will Power’s tube looked red, that was my favorite Kool-Aid.


MP: Many things. Usually water as the base and whatever supplement powders they prefer.

Q: Congratulations! Mr. Penske, in his infinite wisdom, has appointed you head of the ICONIC 2027 Committee! It is your job to create the next generation’s engine regulations and chassis specifications. What’s your move and your mandates? Secondly, would a design based off Dallara’s conceptual IR-01 (alive only on iRacing) be a viable option for the next gen IndyCar chassis?

Jah From Stankonia

MP: Hello to you and your fellow ATLiens. This fantasy world of yours is amazing.

I ring Red Bull and ask to borrow the X1. I bring it to Dallara, since that’s who’ll make the next IndyCar, and tell them it’s too tame and they need to take the concept and make something more futuristic. On the engine regs, I’d give manufacturers three ICE solutions to pick from with a naturally-aspirated V12, inline-5 turbo, or 4-rotor with a peak power target of 750hp, and let them cook up an energy recovery system that can contribute 250hp.

We’d have the craziest looking and sounding open-wheel formula of all time. And it would probably crash the series’ financial ecosystem, but wow, it would be glorious for the one season it would last. That’s my fantasy answer. Based on what I expect to happen, the real answer would bore you to death.

Q: I don’t have cable and IndyCar no longer races in the part of the country where I live, so I follow the series exclusively through Peacock. I enjoy the production value and especially the price of the service. With that being said, the amount of commercials during a race is exhausting. I would be willing to spend more for a commercial-free experience. I can use the extra money I have since I don’t need to buy tickets anymore. Is there any chance I will have that option next season under the new tv/streaming contract?

Jared, Reading, PA

MP: I don’t know, but I do know that if a no-commercials option was available, a lot of people who’ve said they’d pay for it will have their dreams come true.

Q: There’s a lot of negativity around the Indy GP, but my wife and I really enjoy it. I think there was a good turnout on Saturday and even more importantly, the crowd looked like a lot of kids and younger people. The tickets are a bargain and you can sit in amazing seats most could never get for the 500. Also, whoever came up with the idea to let the fans walk the track after the race deserves recognition. What a great move. I never thought I would be able to kiss the yard of bricks. An amazing moment for us as fans.

Brian, Joliet, IL

MP: That’s awesome to hear, Brian.

Q: I absorbed all your commentary and videos from IMSA’s Laguna Seca race, and as always, nicely done. At the same time, an IndyCar race is on Saturday in Indianapolis. How do you determine which race to attend when there are conflicting dates? I actually thought you might do Indy on Saturday and then hightail it to Laguna Seca for Sunday. Do you ever do that, and who pays the bill?

Jeff, Colorado

MP: Thanks for asking, Jeff. My editor and I tend to have a “what races do you expect to attend” conversation in January and then we adjust as necessary from there since I also cover IMSA and historic racing. I was originally scheduled to head to Indy for my usual GP-through-the-500 coverage, but there was a request to head to Laguna Seca for the IMSA race instead of the GP due to an advertising opportunity that arose. Similar situation for June’s Laguna Seca IndyCar race; I’ll be in Watkins Glen for the 6 Hour.

Q: Thank you for being direct and forceful in your interview with Roger Penske with regard to the push to pass debacle. I appreciate your also intertwining the IMSA and NASCAR incidents of the past year, and with that I have two questions:

Has Mr. Penske become too removed from his teams to be fully aware of the day-to-day activities given all the series he participates in and coupled with the IndyCar/IMS ownership?

Can we really believe, and I am a fan of his, that Newgarden really didn’t “understand” how the PTP works? Race car drivers develop small muscle memory and subconscious/automatic reactions to driving their car. After 200 IndyCar races I find it hard to believe that he magically relearned the process with which he activates the PTP.

Tom Patrick, Baja California

MP: I’m told Roger was unaware Penske Entertainment had been warned on multiple occasions by Honda that it was looking for major changes to cut costs from the current engine formula, and do not doubt that Roger was clueless when it came to the P2P stuff.

I’ve had many people, from former Penske drivers to former Penske crew chiefs, tell me what we all knew, which was for most of his time in the sport, no decisions were made without them passing through Roger’s hands. Those same people, citing that longstanding practice of hyper-micromanagement, have said they can’t believe Roger was out of the loop on P2P, but I do think times have changed and do believe he was caught by surprise with this ordeal, just as he was caught by surprise with Honda.

As I wrote to open the Mailbag a week or two ago, Newgarden’s explanation, and the subsequent backing of that explanation by Penske’s internal review, is pure nonsense.

We have a newly-imposed limit of just one Penske P2P scandal photo per week here at the Mailbag, so instead let’s take a moment to enjoy Mailbag photo icon Jarno Trulli’s first and only GP win at Monaco – 20 years ago next week. Time flies. Tee/Motorsport Images

Q: Thanks for the interview with Roger Penske. Your questions were fair yet probing, and you brought up one key point: independent investigation. It seems like the additional penalties Team Penske leveled were to somehow prove to competitors and fans alike they took the breaking of rules seriously and are a separate entity from IndyCar. So if they’re trying to clear the air on conflict of interest, why would they not involve a third party investigator? Quite frankly, the penalties from Penske look more like trying to sweep the matter under the rug than anything else.

I’m not sure that termination is the appropriate penalty, but the fact that all four suspended parties can partake in after-action meetings during May is a joke. Why suspend them if they are able to work anyway?

Lastly, I think many fans (myself included) harbor anger toward this situation because of how Penske and his organization want to present themselves “above” their competitors when it comes to rule following. Whether the team intentionally tried to cheat or not, they have distanced themselves from ownership of the situation. Newgarden’s “I thought the rule changed” and Penske’s “I was in Europe” excuses are merely pointing fingers at others. Not only that, as you pointed out, this is the most recent of three infractions across multiple series in the last year. Roger’s response? “Completely unrelated.” That doesn’t sound like Penske Perfect to me, and it makes it hard to believe this was merely a code oversight.

Kyle, Westfield, IN

MP: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kyle.

Q: After seeing the article about Larson and his potential back-up driver for the 500, I’ll suggest an alternative strategy. Zak Brown needs to put TK in the No. 6 and use Illott as Kyle’s bullpen driver. Just makes so much more sense plus it gives the fans the proper TK/Helio send-off.

Skip Ranfone, Summerfield, FL

MP: I swear Tony had a proper sendoff last year. I put together a farewell dinner for him the night before practice started, which makes me feel confident about 2023 being his last, but I could be wrong!

The only way Helio bids farewell is if he wins his fifth.

Q: There is no question that drivers in the paddock don’t like Romain Grosjean’s consistent reckless driving. It seemed like he was wrecking more equipment and throwing away races than his competitors last year while driving for Andretti Global. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

Santino Ferruci had a legitimate beef with Grosjean following the race at Barber. Despite that, it didn’t mean he had the right to intimidate and get payback for the incident in the morning warmup at IMS and then deliberately push Grosjean into the grass during the race. Ferrucci should really give his head a shake and grow up based on his comments before the race.

When you’re racing at 175mph and trying to force someone to wreck or go off track something’s wrong, and it could be deadly depending on the hit and speed that is being carried. You simply shouldn’t use a race car as a weapon. Shouldn’t someone from IndyCar sit these two down before the 500 so this nonsense doesn’t carry over? What do you think should be done, if anything? Would it even matter to either driver or be in one ear and out the other? Perhaps IndyCar should set up a ring and put these two in a UFC cage match in the outfield.

David Colquitt

MP: Chip Ganassi says a lot of smart things. His recent comments about the late Wally Dallenbach, former CART IndyCar Series race steward, fit that theme here:

“I remember his famous line he’d say in the drivers’ meetings that sticks out today where he’d say he would not stand for using the car as a weapon. And I think today, more drivers need to hear that message. You can’t use the car as a weapon.”

What should be done about it? IndyCar race director Kyle Novak is at least 6-foot-4 and looks like he played football. He towers over most IndyCar drivers. I’d suggest calling Santucchi and The Phoenix into the hauler and threatening the living **** out of them with beatings if they don’t fall in line. I don’t know if that’s the most professional way of doing things, but when my dad did it when I was a kid, I got my act in gear.

I’m only half-serious about Novak, but fear is an excellent motivator.

Very hard not to read the above letter without recalling IndyCar’s then Director of Security (and former marine and state trooper) Charles Burns looking distinctly unintimidated by Helio when the latter got a bit heated about his blocking penalty at Edmonton in 2009. Motorsport Images

Q: Watched the IMSA race this weekend. Great race, and very entertaining. And Laguna Seca looked good.

My question is with regard to IMSA racing etiquette (or lack thereof). I am speaking to the pass Jordan Taylor made on the Turner Motorsports car near the very end of the race that essentially took the win away from Turner. Admittedly I am friends with Pat Gallagher, so I was not happy.

My view was that Jordan was not going to catch anyone in front of him with what was about three minutes left in the race. His gap to the next competitor in his class was, like, eight seconds. And Turner and the Mercedes were racing for the win in GTD with a very entertaining show.

I know GTD is last on the list of importance for IMSA, but are there any etiquette rules other than get the heck out of the way of the prototypes, they get whatever they want? It just seems like there could have been better situational awareness from Andretti and Taylor. The team might have given him a heads-up what he was coming up on. Or Taylor himself acknowledging himself he wasn’t going any further with three minutes to go and these guys may actually be racing for position. I know there is the catch all rationalization of, “Well, that is just multi-class racing” as well.

Disappointed. One, if I am Turner, I put in my memory banks for future reference. Thoughts?

Jeff Smith, State College, PA

MP: Lots of great post-incident analysis that had no bearing or involvement in what took place and when it took place, Jeff. Jordan Taylor in a GTP car would have had no awareness of who was leading in GTD or thought to ease off just because he didn’t have a GTP car in close proximity to chase. It’s just not a thing, especially when a guy in the fastest cars on track are firing through a turn. Watching the BMW’s in-car camera, it looked like Jordan tried to widen his arc on turn-in to maintain more speed and hit the BMW while turning left to create that arc. Hitting the BMW just for the sake of it makes no sense to me since it wasn’t like Taylor was held up for multiple corners while in hot pursuit of a rival. Regardless, it was a terrible outcome for Will Turner and family on a day where they should have won while making history as BMW’s all-time leading entrant.

Q: Are updated speedway wings still planned for 2025?


MP: I believe so.

Q: Last year at the 500, race control threw red flags at the end of the race so that it would end under green, despite no apparent written instruction. Sure, we’d rather see a race end under green, but they really need to codify the call. You were dismissive of those who questioned the integrity of the call on the basis of the conflict of interest involved with having a team owner who competes in his own events. Your position seemed quite reasonable to me at the time. I also seem to recall that you later suggested that in the future a late race crash would be handled differently than it was in 2023.

Lately, you have repeatedly raised the conflict of interest concern over how the P2P issue was handled. We know that the appearance of impropriety can be as damaging as an actual impropriety. So, has your position on the red flags evolved? Has race control been given firm guidance on when to use the red flag?

If there is a late crash this year and race control uses its discretion to end the race under yellow with a Penske car in the lead, then all hell is going to break loose.

Gary, from the road

MP: No change in my view on the final red flag. I wasn’t a fan of it back then, but it was within their power to do what they did and I was dismissive of it because I could find no merit to support the notion that the fix was in. Also worth noting that Newgarden had to then go and win the race, which was certainly tipped in his favor, but if he stumbled and Ferrucci got a better jump on the restart, we might be talking about Foyt as the defending winner. Ericsson was always going to be a sitting duck, but there was no guarantee Josef would be the winner.

I should know more about how race control plans to handle certain things shortly, and hope to have it published in the coming days.

Q: Although there are few ways for IndyCar to take on F1 head-on to showcase actual racing vs their circus, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And Las Vegas is the place for the showdown.

If you remember, there were numerous complaints from both race fans as well as locals about the high costs involved and the disruption to daily life, and there is no reason why IndyCar can’t feed off of the discontent –if not on the Sunday, Nov. 24, then on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2025, just up the road at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Market it to the locals as “Better racing, affordable for the rest of us.”

Yes, IndyCar has an aversion to going back to tracks where drivers get killed (Pocono as well as Las Vegas); but by returning to Vegas while the F1 circus is still in town, it will show the bravery of “our team” with higher speeds, more passing and more excitement at family-friendly prices. The locals don’t need expensive musical “entertainment” like they do in the middle of an Iowa cornfield: Just thrilling open-wheel oval racing.

What would make this special is if a couple of extra cars are available for any of the F1 drivers to race, and publicly challenge them on local billboards as well as in the racing media to see if they have the balls to come play in our ballpark. Already one of their biggest stars, Lewis Hamilton, has said he will not race on ovals: Make this a “put up or shut up” event and paper the house with the locals with reasonably priced tickets and giveaways, such as to military personnel next door at Nellis AFB.

Since Roger Penske turned down selling IndyCar to Liberty Media, this would give the bonus of his rubbing it in the face of John Malone.

One of the keys to success with IndyCar has always been the attraction of middle-class fans with reasonably priced tickets: Imagine the billboards going up in the near-suburbs saying, “Price too much for the Formula 1 tickets? Come see our real racers!”

Dan Schwartz

MP: I hear you, but IndyCar isn’t some mystery series that American-based F1 fans can’t go see and enjoy as desired. It’s been here for more than 100 years. All of the things that make no sense right now with F1, where most of the races suck but huge ticket sales and merchandise sales are happening, is very real. Miami was packed, and it cost a fortune compared to an IndyCar race, and yet… it was packed.

Here, right now, F1 is the NFL. IndyCar, despite being all the things we love, is the UFL, with quality players and, by comparison to the NFL, no audience. IndyCar taking over the Las Vegas F1 race would be huge, but nobody in Las Vegas is asking for it. F1 fans can just as easily go to the 17 races we have and pack those stands if they wanted to.

Q: After watching ESPN put the Miami Grand Prix on ABC and ESPN, I am OK with IndyCar moving on to FOX if it offers more money. I get the women’s golf tournament, but burying IndyCar’s crown jewel outside of Indy on USA was a joke, and it showed. If you really are going to build a fan base, NBC (despite its past contributions) has to do better. It can’t get much worse under FOX, but at least you would have more money.

Jeff Smith, State College, PA

MP: I checked in with my FOX insider last week and was told they’ve heard the negotiations with IndyCar were halted. We both hoped that will prove to be wrong, but that was what they’d been told. I hope to learn more ASAP.

Not a single golf ball in sight. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

Q: The one thing that we will never know: Did Josef and Scotty hit the P2P during qualifying at St. Pete, since it was not deactivated?

John Sedlak, Venice, FL

MP: The problem with doing internal investigations and such things privately as they did, is there’s no immediate transparency to offer.

Q: Kudos for Roger Penske for suspending Tim Cindric and the others, especially for the 500. But I wonder why IndyCar didn’t act in the same way. Have you heard if IndyCar considered suspensions, bigger fines, etc.? Also, Chevrolet’s announcement that its folks had no knowledge… I cannot believe that, with all the data they review. Seems like a cover-up by Chevrolet. Do you think penalties/suspensions are deserved for their engineers or others?

Rick, Miami

MP: I came away from this ordeal thinking that we need IndyCar to copy NASCAR’s approach and suspend folks at the series level, from cheating at the highest offense to more routine items like wheels falling off. IndyCar is not planning on doing anything else on this matter. This was a team thing, not a Chevy thing. But like Team Penske, GM/Chevy said they had their in-house counsel look into things and cleared themselves.

From the beginning, this has felt like a situation the series and Penske Entertainment do not want to really treat in a serious and exhaustive way. Just be thankful our courts don’t allow the “we investigated ourselves and here’s our own verdict” routine to happen.

Q: I read your article that stated Meyer Shank is the front-runner to pick up the Acura IMSA contract, not Ganassi. Was Ganassi interested in the Acura project, or does it have their eyes on a different manufacturer’s program?


MP: I’ve heard CGR bid for the deal, along with a few other teams, and MSR was chosen. I don’t know where else they’ll turn to keep their IMSA program going.

Q: There is so much drama in NASCAR with accusations, fist fights between drivers or crews, cheating, etc. NASCAR fans love it, whether it is contrived or not. Ratings show it. IndyCar is getting all sorts of press from news organizations who normally don’t pay any attention due to its own scandal. There is a saying in the entertainment business that talking bad about you is better than not talking about you at all. IndyCar may not want this bad press, but at least it is a topic of discussion. It just needs to push the personalities of the drivers during the whole season, not just through the “100 Days to Indy” series. There is enough drama in IndyCar going on that is not contrived, unlike these so-called “reality shows.” You’re hot now IndyCar, keep the fire going!


MP: Thanks, Dave. But it’s not hot now. Along with the scandal doing the opposite of growing its audience, the ratings for 100 Days Season 2, so far, are slightly down as well, dipping by five percent over the average Season 1 audience. I wish everything you’re saying was true, but the numbers tell another story. This ordeal has done nothing to help IndyCar.

Q: What has Honda said about the P2P scandal? Will this have an effect on its decision to stay or leave IndyCar?


MP: I’ve had multiple conversations with Honda about it, and while I haven’t asked for an on-the-record response, I feel comfortable in saying the situation hasn’t helped.

Q: Any changes to how confident are you that Penske’s use of P2P in 2023 was within the rules? P2P would have been useful on the final restart at Indy last year. The law firm investigation and suspensions announced this week might be indicative of new information being uncovered.


MP: I won’t be vouching for the state of legality of the team’s cars at any point in time because I don’t have the data or facts in hand to make any statements of confidence on the topic. I’ve had plenty of folks tell me all the ways they believe Penske’s cheated with P2P in the past, but no evidence has been provided.

Q: I read the interview with Roger Penske with interest, hoping to find some resolution to my disgust at this situation. The lack of an independent investigation and Penske’s steadfast insistence that he wasn’t aware of the situation because he was in the UK strains belief. His handling of this puts other teams in a hard position to explain to much-needed sponsors why they should spend money to compete against a team that has an illegitimate, built-in unfair advantage.

Perhaps this will be the biggest Indy 500 since the 100th anniversary; but I won’t be there. My ticket, hotel room and other expenses will unused or cancelled. I reckon I’ll only end up losing $800 on the trip. It’s a small price to pay for keeping my personal integrity.

P. Worth Thompson

MP: Hate to hear we won’t have you there.

Q: Do you think with the suspensions of Cindric and Ruzewski that Kyle Moyer will be the lead man for Team Penske at Indy in May? He had that role for many years for Andretti Autosport before joining Team Penske.

Don H. Indianapolis

MP: Yes, in theory. But his bosses — the suspended ones — can still lead the team when the cars aren’t on track, according to the team.

Q: It’s good to see RP take some rather stiff sanctions, but he left one out: Newgarden. He admitted he knowingly cheated, and in my view should receive the same penalties.


MP: Back to the “taking things seriously”…

Eeek, looks like we need another Trulli pic. How about this, celebrating the 2004 Monaco pole that helped him earn that big victory the following day? Those sunglasses were probably worth a couple of tenths. Motorsport Images

Q: Big Possum has already stated his opinion on the Penske miscalculation on the P2P software but it seems others have it living in their brain, so Big Possum will give it another try. To all those wringing their hands over “cheating,” Big Possum thinks they are new to racing. Working to outsmart the rule book is as old as motor racing and is a respected and honorable pursuit among real racers.

Those crying and wringing their hands over the Penske situation must be primarily tea-sipping bridge players where cheating must be a horrible act — same group that writes in to the Mailbag fretting about the series needing new cars and hybrids and such. To those tech nerds, Big Possum refers them to sprint car racing, where the basic chassis has not changed in 50 years and provides the best racing on the planet.

As an example, when Big Possum and his son were kart racing, we devised the chicken bone trick to allow us to run light — karts were weighed after the race. We hid some green painted lead weights out on the circuit (green so they would blend into the grass and not draw attention) after the checker and on the cooldown lap, the driver would appear to be stricken and coughing as if a chicken bone was lodged in his throat, would stop conveniently on the track were the green lead was waiting, get on his hands and knees with a coughing fit, put the green lead in his pocket, appear to recover and proceed to the scales to pass with the correct weight. Worked perfectly until the driver forgot where the extra weight was on the track, scaled light and was DQed — the moral of the story is the driver is always the weakest link.

Get over the Penske situation, boys. Roger and Team Penske are the pinnacle of motor racing and we owe him for saving the Speedway and the series. Anyway it’s May, best month of the year. Let’s go racing and leave all the fretting over alleged rules stretching to golfers, tennis players, bridge players and other such manly sports.

BTW Marshall, Big Possum is trying to contact his old high school English teacher for help on writing in the fourth person — look for it in the next submission.

Big Possum

MP: Wait until I ask for a fifth-person submission.

Q: Related to the recent mention of Zak Brown joining the IndyCar marketing taskforce, there were a couple of interesting snippets that Zak said that perked up my ears, namely about IndyCar’s last valuation event (Roger buying the series) putting IndyCar at $300 million-ish. But the other thing he called out was a specific need for more marquee street races.

Out of curiosity, do you know why the proposed Port Imperial street race just outside of N.Y. in New Jersey wouldn’t work for IndyCar? (This was the one that Vettel did a demo run on in 2012-13).

To me, it seems like a much better fit for an IndyCar race than an F1 race given that it lacks a lot of the glamor that F1 demands (and rightly gets). For instance, I’m not sure that course would hold up to driving down the literal Las Vegas Strip.

But is there a reason that you know of that the deal fell apart that would mean it won’t work for IndyCar also?


MP: Since it was never associated with a series I cover, learning the details of its failure was never a priority. As for why it wouldn’t work as an IndyCar race, it was never conceived as an IndyCar race, so there was no interest by a promoter to make that happen.

Q: With Tim Cindric suspended by Team Penske for the month of May, I trust he will have no place in pits or paddock or spotters’ decks for the Indy 500. I’d think a VIP place in one of the many executive suites at the track wouldn’t pass a smell test, either. Will he be watching the race from home, or dealing with the scalpers on Georgetown Street for a grandstand seat? Serious question. Has anyone asked where he will be on race day?

A. Jenkins, Speedway, IN, Turn 3, (May, 2024 only)

MP: I saw Tim at Laguna Seca on Friday at the IMSA race and chatted briefly in passing. This wasn’t a topic that was raised. His team’s PR rep said the four “suspended” members weren’t going to be in Indy, so I assume they’ll be at home or at the shop.

Q: I appreciate the hard questions you asked Roger Penske regarding the PTP suspensions. I was a Penske Racing employee during the ’70s and I can assure you that had we been caught cheating on either our Cup or Indy team, heads would have rolled! Roger never would have side-stepped the issues as he did in your interview, and I’m extremely disappointed in his responses to your raising the issue of conflicts of interest.

Knowing the fear and respect all his employees have for the Captain, it’s more than reasonable to believe any decision made by IndyCar would have been tainted by his ownership title. No one in the Penske organizations makes critical decisions without his direct involvement. In my view, feet were dragged until a “politically correct” response could be drafted. A two-race, one-month suspension is laughable, especially given Penske’s ownership of all parties involved.

To instill the integrity of the series, the team and the Penske brand, all should have been fired! That would have alleviated the issue once and for all and demonstrated to the motorsport world of his integrity to the sport. I’m sure that would have been his decision in the earlier years of Penske Racing when he was more hands-on. I’m extremely disappointed in the man I considered a mentor and beyond reproach in all his business dealings, but his response is unacceptable.


MP: I appreciated the outreach from Penske Entertainment asking if I wanted to interview him. I also appreciated Roger’s willingness to be interviewed with no conditions or handlers intruding on the phone call. I wrote a number of questions, posed them, and he answered them however he wanted, as is his right. Pretty straightforward.

Q: Reading Michael Yarnell’s letter, what’s the deal with IndyCar and Watkins Glen not getting together? If they can get a decent turnout for the IMSA Six Hour — we drive up from DC most years — I am sure they could pull a crowd for IndyCar. But other than the 2016 race, nothing. Is it because ISC and IndyCar don’t like each other?

Jonathan Gitlin, Washington, D.C.

MP: It’s because WGI hasn’t, to my knowledge, tried to get IndyCar back. Since it isn’t a track owned by Penske Entertainment, WGI would need to pursue this to happen, if it wanted to, and based on the lack of movement there, we probably have our answer.

Everyone would love to see IndyCar back at Watkins Glen — except maybe for Watkins Glen itself.  Gregg Feistman/Motorsport Images

Q: I wonder about the ethics of racing. Especially in the U.S., where we have three major series: IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA; the latter two basically being the same company. (Every time I see “NASCAR” pop up on my phone I know it’s time to renew my tickets to an IMSA race).

In NASCAR and IMSA we see the series owning the tracks for a large portion of the schedule, as well as the CEO of NASCAR owning an IMSA team. In IndyCar, the owner of the series owns the venue for the marquis event as well as one of the top teams.

It’s concerning to me that the sanctioning bodies of these three great series also own the playing field and are fielding teams (except in NASCAR proper), especially when you get into talk of charters, revenue shares, etc. The organizations may have different CEOs/presidents, but does it concern you that ethically there are certainly opportunities for impropriaties, or the perception of them hurting the motorsports we all love?

Also, since it seems to be a required topic, is the perception of institutional cross-pollination having an effect on the current reactions to the Penske P2P incidents?

Big Nick

MP: The France family founded NASCAR, and IMSA as well with the Bishop family. The fact that the France family continue to own both doesn’t not bother me. Jim France does own the Action Express IMSA team, and he’s listed as the chairman of IMSA, but he is not centrally involved in decision-making matters with IMSA. That’s the key difference between France/IMSA and Penske/IndyCar, where all major Penske Entertainment/IndyCar decisions go through or come from Penske.

My brain is too sleepy to process the last question.

Q: For John M. Lee from last week, unfortunately for his taste in racing styles, changing the race measurement from laps to time does not inherently reduce fuel strategy coming into play. This is most easily seen by watching IMSA, where I specifically remember Robert Wickens losing the TCR lead at CTMP last year because of fuel concerns, in a two-hour race.

Whether your measurement of the race is completing the most distance in a fixed time, or completing a fixed distance in the least time, your strategy will always be a compromise of running as fast as possible while trying not to excessively pit for tires and fuel. If you change the race distance to try to eliminate the fuel-saving strategy, it could always come back through the timing of a yellow, or simply by teams short-filling to get out of pit lane sooner.

The only way around this is to mandate that the cars start the race full, and then shorten the race so that they couldn’t possibly burn everything they have. We got this at Thermal, but then it just meant tire strategy mattered instead. You just can’t force teams to run at 100% if that’s not a good strategy for that race.

Mike, California

MP: Thanks, Mike.

Q: I would like to touch on a couple of topics about IndyCar’s schedule and marketing. My biggest thing as far as the schedule is, why can’t they move the Indy Grand Prix race to the first weekend in May? Move the two Indy 500 practice days from April to that first Friday and Saturday after the Grand Prix race, take Mother’s Day off, and then have a full week of practice. Then you truly have a full month of May.

I understand that the Grand Prix would be the same day as the Kentucky Derby, but they could start the race at noon or 1:00, and that could the lead into Derby coverage, which doesn’t start on NBC until 3:00. I get it that Long Beach and Barber would have to be moved up a week, but why not?

I guess that brings me to my next point as far as the marketing side. How in the hell does IndyCar’s biggest race outside of the 500 get put on the USA Network? I don’t recall seeing one thing about advertising for that race anywhere as far as TV coverage.

My next thing is, if Coors Light, Pennzoil, and Shell fuels are official sponsors of IndyCar, then why are there no advertisements out there? I live in Cincinnati, and if I go into a sports bar or bar there’s no banner or poster that has “Coors Light, Official Beer of IndyCar” with the schedule printed on it. But you can bet your ass there is one with Busch beer and NASCAR somewhere hanging up. Same with Pennzoil — nowhere on a bottle does it say official oil of IndyCar. Or a Shell gas station — no poster, no banner, no message on the TV screen at the fuel pumps.

Just like when I go on to the Snap-On truck, especially with Roger Penske’s long partnership with Snap-On — not one sticker to hand out with Josef Newgarden on it, or anything about Penske winning another 500. I remember when I first started being a mechanic and seeing the older guys took boxes with Rick Mears and Snap-On racing stickers all over the place.

I know this turned into more a rant. But it just pisses me off as a die-hard IndyCar fan when I think of all the missed opportunities for advertising and putting their product in front of people. They need to put it in front of people’s faces until they’re sick of seeing it. Or maybe they’re OK just being a niche sport. I don’t see that being the case though when Michael Andretti approaches Roger Penske telling him we need a change, and Zak Brown wanting to spearhead new marketing ideas.

Scott, Cincinnati

MP: Thanks for the rant, Scott. We need at least one per Mailbag.

Q: I understand the reaction to the recent P2P controversy. All probably well-deserved. But I have a problem with people lumping this infraction in with Roger’s NASCAR team. Go ahead and use your search function for “Hendrick Motorsports penalties” and see what you find. We’ll wait here while you look at the pages of results.

Rick Hendrick is pretty much deified in NASCAR. Why all of this hatred for Roger?


MP: Can’t speak to hatred if that’s what you’ve seen from others, but it’s a numbers situation as I see it. If Team Penske had been caught cheating zero times recently, there would be nothing else to reference. If it was once, it would be once. Since it was two, two were mentioned along with the third and newest. What Hendrick has/hasn’t done in NASCAR, the one series where he routinely competes, has zero relevance to an IndyCar team that runs in three other major championships.

Q: It was hard to drop the Nashville street race, but we hope that one day another venue becomes available for IndyCar. Nashville will be back with an oval this year. But what about Miami and Las Vegas? They are beginning to flourish prematurely. I understand it is asking too much. But as much we love to see Formula 1 in the U.S., how long will it take for IndyCar to host an event at Miami, or even in a Las Vegas night race on the streets?

JLS, Chicago, IL

MP: I’m struggling to see either happen while F1 owns both towns with their races. And IndyCar would only lose if they tried, just like at COTA, where the enormous difference in crowd sizes made IndyCar look tiny and weak. No need to repeat history with that happening at Miami and Las Vegas.

IndyCar at COTA. World-class venue, Tuesday morning crowd. Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: I don’t understand why Cindric and Ruzewski “will not be restricted from communicating with the race team or performing their roles… when their Indy cars aren’t on track.”

If their suspensions are because as the team’s leaders, the buck stops with them, why should they be permitted to continue performing those duties during their punishment period? Does the same on-track/off-track loophole exist for the suspended race engineers?

Also, I find it funny that Verizon apparently can’t provide international cellphone coverage for Roger while he’s in Europe.

Brian, Ohio

MP: A friend, who’s also a fellow smartass, shared this video with me after the suspensions were announced…  From 500 Miles Away… you can’t make this stuff up.

Q: Last season when Jack Harvey’s contract to drive the No. 30 RLL car got terminated, they had multiple different drivers for that car towards the end of the season. One driver who made his debut in IndyCar was ex-F2 driver Juri Vips. After the season, RLL said that it had intentions to have him drive the car in future, but that it wouldn’t be possible now due to the No. 30 car requiring some budget from the driver. My question is, how does the future for Juri Vips look in IndyCar?

Leo, Stockholm, Sweden

MP: I spoke to Bobby Rahal about Vips at Long Beach and he said he hopes to field him in a fourth car later this year.

Q: I think Roger Penske should get Newey to design a new IndyCar chassis for 2027 and then get Dallara to build it. Thoughts?

Nuno, Portugal

MP: From championship-winning F1 cars that push the boundaries of open-wheel technology to a spec IndyCar? I’d ask Adrian if he hit his head if that happened.

Q: Sorry for another P2P comment. Do you really think Team Penske was intentionally cheating? If so, wouldn’t they have tried to mask or hide the P2P usage? I’ve not seen anything to indicate they did. It was hiding in plain sight. It was obvious what was happening once someone was looking. In St. Pete, no one happened to look.

To me cheating is intentionally trying to subvert a rule for an advantage and also trying to hide it so they are not caught. MSR cheated at Daytona. They ran low tire pressure and intentionally hid it. Not sure Team Penske “cheated.”

This is not to give them a free pass. The drivers deserve the points penalties and the team personnel deserve the suspensions. They deserve the bad publicity and scrutiny. It was a big, and bad, mistake. Their cars were not in compliance. But not sure I would characterize this as cheating. A mistake and shortcut were made in the code handling for hybrid testing, and shortcuts made with software updates resulting in bad code in the race cars. Bad process, methodology, and procedure, but cheating?


MP: Thanks for sharing your viewpoints. I’m pretty traditional when it comes to using the word “cheat” or “cheating” with this definition of to “act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game or examination” fitting the situation better than any other word I can think of.

It’s one thing to show up at St. Petersburg with the wrong settings. That’s an oops. To show up six weeks later with the same wrong settings? That’s where the team lost any chance of its “oops” explanation being believed by the series and the majority of the paddock.

Q: I loved the explanation of the old pop-off valves in last week’s Mailbag. Reminded me of the time that Jerry Sneva tried monkeying with it at the end of a qualification run at Indy. Didn’t he stop in his pit quickly after the run to have the team remove a bolt that had been fashioned to prevent the valve from opening before proceeding to the photo/tech area? Did he really think he would get away with it with half the racing world watching?

Mike Hutton, Lake in the Hills, IL

MP: Could you imagine if that same thing was attempted today with 100X zoom TV cameras shooting in HD? We’d see every thread on the bolt in 4K60 resolutions.

Q: While I get that everyone is upset about what has happened at Team Penske. let’s face it: The real big issue is getting manufacturers interested in IndyCar. As fans we thought Penske taking over that would change. Clearly that has not happened.

You have Honda possibly moving to NASCAR, as well as Hyundai. IMSA has 15 manufacturers, NASCAR is on the verge of five. It begs the question: what are they doing right, and what is IndyCar doing wrong? Clearly something is amiss with the leadership.

Maybe it’s time just to have Ilmor and Cosworth to provide engines and focus on proper promotions and then maybe manufacturers will ask to come.


MP: IMSA has 18, I believe. Yep, as I’ve written in recent months, and probably need to write again, the series has one path forward to getting manufacturers interested, and that’s to go with Honda’s recommendation of using a mostly spec internal combustion engine that costs very little — compared to today’s costs — to acquire and badge as their own, and from there, let manufacturers decide how much they want to play and spend on energy recovery systems. The ERS side is what interests most manufacturers who are in or wanting to enter racing. Make the ICE the small financial component, come up with a smart approach to giving them limited ERS development to add some individualization, and they’d give themselves the best chance possible to add auto brands to the series.

Whole lotta badges in that IMSA field. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: First, let me say that with a couple of exceptions, I like and admire the talent of every driver currently racing in IndyCar. But when it comes to the question of why it has fallen so far in popularity among American racing fans, I think we have to address the elephant in the room.

As racing journalist John Oreovicz once pointed out many years ago, the infamous 1996 Split in IndyCar was really the end result of the contentious 1979 battle which ended in owners wresting control away from USAC and forming CART. The disagreement between the direction of the series never totally went away.

Of the three major series that existed in the 1970s — IndyCar, NASCAR and F1 — only one chose to radically shift its structure and focus away from its historic roots. In its flourishing heyday, Champ Car was an American oval series with primarily American drivers on the regular schedule which was anchored by a huge oval race at Indianapolis that traditionally attracted an international field. Two or three street and road courses were added to spice things up, which also attracted a few well-known drivers from outside the series.

Fast forward to today where it is primarily a road and street course series with only one third of the field composed of American drivers, and of those, only three or four with competitive rides. Add to this the fact that only six Americans have won the Indy 500 in the last 20 years while only four have won the championship, is it any wonder that you have a steady decline in American racing fans?

Imagine if NASCAR had inexplicably taken the same direction, i.e. changing its format to primarily road and street courses dominated by international drivers. Or if F1 had morphed into mostly a European oval racing competition featuring a dominant majority of American drivers.

I remember back during the Split, team owner Derrick Walker saying to the media, “I don’t know what our competition is, but I know it isn’t NASCAR.” Not to be outdone, Pat Patrick chimed in, “If people want to see American open-wheel drivers, they’ve got sprint cars.”

These sorts of attitudes got us where we are today.

I once shared this point of view with Robin Miller, who I greatly admired, with the further comment: “When you watch the Olympics, who are you most likely to root for?” Though he agreed with some of my points, his final response to the “Who do you root for?” question was that the two most popular drivers in the series were Tony Kanaan and Helio. Touché.

But I might add that Robin’s answer only took into consideration present fans who, like me, would follow the series regardless. Personally, I would just as soon watch a tractor pull as a NASCAR race. But NASCAR knew how to manage and promote a racing series to American fans. Sometimes I think those who run IndyCar really don’t want “those kinds” of fans, i.e., that it would rather remain elitist than broadly popular in America.

If so, they have succeeded.


MP: And yet, American racing fans are watching more F1 than ever where only a single and not particularly spectacular American driver is involved, meaning 19 of the 20 aren’t American, and the one that is rarely finds himself somewhere other than last.

Since we are about as multi-cultural as it gets, we also have a lot of people in America who might not be born and raised here, but are certainly capable of liking IndyCar and rooting for Americans and Brits and Kiwis and Spaniards and Swedes and the rest.

I’m answering while watching the NBA playoffs where its best player — the MVP — in three of the last four seasons is Serbia’s Nicola Jokic. Among the other top/most popular players, they hail from Slovenia, Greece, Cameroon, France and Canada, and one in about every five NBA players are now international players; more than ever. And the league is only continuing to become more popular while becoming “less American.” I just don’t buy this argument.

Q: For Marshall and Chris: At the start of the month, Stephen Ross declined a $10 billion offer for ownership of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium and the Miami Grand Prix. This got me thinking: What do you think the going rate would be to buy the rights (or also venue — except Indy) of each round of the IndyCar and F1 championships? Would it be possible for a jilted party involved with each series — with backing from a major investment firm — to buy a chunk of the calendar in a hostile takeover?

Rob, Rochester, NY

MP: Doing a full accounting of each event’s value is outside the scope of the mailbag, but if someone wanted to gain control over a nice chunk of the IndyCar calendar and had a lot of money to spend, buying Green Savoree Race Promotions would be the smartest path to pursue. GSRP puts on St. Petersburg, Mid-Ohio (which it owns, I believe), Toronto and Portland. That’s more than 25 percent of IndyCar’s venues (four of the 15), so if Kim Green and Kevin Savoree wanted to sell, that’s how a jilted party might yank IndyCar’s chain.

CHRIS MEDLAND: That’s a really interesting question, Rob, because some events would definitely be worth more than others. But generally, it’s the circuit owners who hold the rights, so you’d definitely have to buy an entire venue, and that makes it a far more expensive purchase than just a round of the F1 championship. That automatically makes it so much less likely for someone to try and attempt a hostile takeover in such a fashion.

It’s also up to F1 who the race-hosting deals are with, so if they were worried about who was buying up rights to existing events, they’d more than likely look to replace them with new venues.

If you look at how expensive F1 was to purchase in the first place when Liberty Media did — $8 billion back in 2017 — and what it would likely cost now, and I’m not sure a major investment firm would risk such money trying the hostile takeover approach as they’re likely to end up just paying hundreds of millions of dollars to Liberty in race-hosting fees and then be left with racetracks that don’t have an F1 deal any longer.

That’s my long-winded way of saying I don’t really think it’s possible. But as an interesting extra point to where your question first came from: Stephen Ross was an interested party in the period that Liberty bought F1, and it was suggested that once it became clear who was more likely to complete the deal then his attentions turned to hosting a race and Liberty was open to the collaboration rather than the pair finding themselves in the middle of a bidding war.

Q: I am happy the IndyCar grid is growing, but many questions remain about the future, When will the charter system be announced? When will the TV deal be signed? When will IndyCar have a full-time female driver? And will IndyCar ever get a third engine manufacturer?

Also, if Andretti F1 does start in 2026 who will fill key positions within the team? Who will sponsor this team? Who will be the team principal? Until Cadillac arrives in 2028, who will supply the engines, and who will drive the two cars? (My guess is Josef Newgarden and Sophia Floersch). How good will they be in year one?

Kurt Perleberg

MP: Seriously? Ten questions in one submission, most of which are unanswerable? The answer to all, like life itself, is 42.

CM: Sadly, I really don’t see Andretti getting in for 2026 — 2028 is much more likely — but if it were to happen then I’d expect one of the Group 1001 brands to be the main sponsor, along with GM of course, and would be very surprised if it wasn’t Michael Andretti as team principal. Renault was lined up to supply engines, and whether it wanted to or not it would have to if there was a team — Andretti or anyone else — without a supply deal because Renault has the fewest customers.

That almost certainly wouldn’t be the driver lineup, as Floersch doesn’t have a Super License and Andretti has suggested it wants an experienced F1 driver alongside an American. That American would very likely be Colton Herta — if he secures his Super License too — and then it would depend who would be available in 2026.

Someone like Valtteri Bottas or Kevin Magnussen could fit that bill, or one of the current Alpine drivers, or even Daniel Ricciardo depending on how the driver market shakes out. There really could be a lot of options.

Few of Kurt’s questions can be answered with certainty, but you can bet the house that you’re not going to see Sophia Floersch driving an Andretti car in an F1 race in 2026. Motorsport Images

Q: The safety car “accidentally” picked up Max in Miami, allowing Lando to not lose the lead when he pitted? And this is being swept under the rug because everyone is just so happy there was a new winner? If you don’t know what I’m talking about go back and watch those laps on the F1 app.


CM: It’s not the safety car picking up Max that allowed Lando to not lose the lead, John, but solely the fact that Lando got lucky with the safety car being deployed before he had made a pit stop compared to the others. The moment that race control decides to call for the safety car, Lando is coming through the final corner at full speed — his lap time is actually 0.1s faster than his previous lap as a result — and it means he is through Turn 1 and past the pit exit before the safety car emerges onto the track.

You can see this in the highlights, where the camera is fixed on Logan Sargeant’s car and Norris comes through the frame before the safety car has appeared.

What should happen then is all of the other cars are allowed to go past the safety car as it waits for Norris to come around as the leader, but you’re right that Verstappen got picked up initially instead.

It made no significant difference though, as Norris was over 11 seconds ahead of Verstappen (and pulling away) before the safety car came out, and he only needed a nine second advantage to pit and still emerge in the lead under safety car conditions due to the lap time delta drivers must drive to. So barring a very slow stop, Norris was retaining the lead regardless.

Without the safety car, though — or if it had emerged from the pits in time to pick Norris up immediately — then he’d have been in trouble as he didn’t have enough of a gap to keep the lead in green flag conditions, or the field would have instantly formed up behind him before he could get into the pits.

Q: Apologies if this has already been discussed, but I recently saw the video of Dilano van ’t Hoff’s fatal accident from last year, and I was horrified at the near-zero visibility from the spray and that they allowed racing to occur at all. Now that we are heading to the European races on the F1 calendar and the increased possibility of rainy conditions, it reminded me of your June 3, 2023 story, F1 to test rain guards at Silverstone.

So, what was the result of that, and was there a follow-up story that I missed?

Brent Roebuck

CM: Your timing is good, Brent, because while that initial test just sent everyone back to the drawing board, there was actually a test of some further rain guard solutions by Ferrari last week. That Silverstone test you referenced was kept under wraps but featured two smaller sections of covers or deflectors that the FIA felt made no real difference to the amount of spray when run in real world conditions.

That meant a bigger solution was needed, and the first versions tested by Ferrari last week were far more agricultural in that a complete cover of the wheel was trialed, and also a similar version with more gaps to the side, but neither the FIA nor Ferrari publicly spoke about it as it’s in such an early phase of testing.

As it’s something that hasn’t been implemented in F1 before, I understand a number of versions are being looked at and different tests will take place to see their impact on both spray, and also car handling and aerodynamics, so we’re a long way from a solution still and it’s all fairly basic at this point. The main thing that has been learned so far is that it is very complex and there is no quick fix.

Q: I’m not a fan of DRS. It creates artificial excitement and an unfair advantage. You get out-qualified, but no worries…. you’ll have DRS two laps after the start to steam on by.

That being said, how about making it available for a set amount of time similar to P2P? Instead of limitless availability, allow 200 seconds.

Keith, Minooka, IL

CM: This is one we’ve had before, and I have to admit I like the idea. I always defend DRS from critics by pointing to P2P as both are overtaking aids, but you’re right that there’s more of a skill to picking how and when to use P2P (aside from when a leading driver wants to keep a rival in DRS range to help defend from cars behind in F1).

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, May 14, 2014

Q: I thought the Indy Grand Prix was great. It had a little bit of everything. What can be done to prevent the cars from stalling on the standing starts? Even Montoya stalled — what is the issue? Also, two safety items that need to be addressed are adding permanent fencing to protect pit lane at Indy, and driver cockpit protection. Other than that, we’ll be coming in from Montana for the 500. Can we just name-drop you at St. Elmo’s Saturday night to get a table?

Roland Newrones

ROBIN MILLER: Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti both say it’s a mechanical or software issue and upgrades to the system are necessary but expensive. That debris fence from MotoGP needs to be in place for all IMS races. You can drop my name at the Mug ’N’ Bun but St. Elmo’s will likely seat you in the alley.

Story originally appeared on Racer