The RACER Mailbag, May 3

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

Q: I have to say that I enjoyed the first episode of “100 Days to Indy.” I think they are off to a good start. Not sure if going against the NFL draft was a great idea. I’ve got to ask, are you going to be in future episodes? If there is a journalist that needs to be on there, it’s you. The others that are on there don’t report anything near what you do for us. Hope you’re involved in it somehow.

Eric, London, OH

MARSHALL PRUETT: Kind of you to say. No, I’m not involved in any capacity. I am, however, a producer on an upcoming documentary about someone in IndyCar that’s due out later this year, and that’s been a great experience.


100 Days is a perfectly enjoyable docuseries for fans who get to see some extra behind-the-scenes content, but as I’ve been told many times, it’s not for you, or me, or any of the existing audience. Also, since the demise of NBCSN’s IndyCar 360 many moons ago, fans have been starved for docu-style IndyCar programming between races for ages, so 100 Days was always going to be a hit with diehards.

But, and I can’t stress this enough, as IndyCar and IMS said repeatedly when 100 Days was announced, this exercise is to attract new and younger fans, not to entertain the fans it already has. If current fans are pleased, that’s great, but that’s not the reason the docuseries was commissioned.

IndyCar’s main fan, based on its demographic data, is a 60ish-year-old man, and that’s the big worry in terms of sustainability. Launching the 100 Days project, which is done in partnership between Penske Entertainment and CW/VICE, and features Penske Entertainment as the co-producer, makes total sense as a recruitment tool to court the TikTok generation.

So, yes, for IndyCar fans, six hours of extra content on the nation’s fifth-largest network is a bonus. But I don’t care if we like it; that’s not why it exists. We need this to succeed to ensure IndyCar has a long future stocked with new and younger fans. It’s a crucial project, which everyone knows and that’s the reason why every IndyCar team and driver have turned into non-stop promotion departments through their social media accounts to try and get people to tune into 100 Days. I’ve never seen a coordinated push like this between a series and its paddock; it’s truly impressive.

The question we’ll be asking over the coming weeks and months is whether 100 Days served its primary objective of bringing in next-generation followers. It’s the only thing that matters.

Based on the rating numbers from Ep. 1, going up against the NFL Draft, NBA playoffs, and NHL playoffs was the dumbest decision they could have made. Per the Nielsen data, 100 Days was the lowest-rated show among all prime time network offerings last Thursday, and it was last by an unfortunately wide margin. Its lead-in show on the CW, “Walker,” had 542,000 viewers from 8-9pm. From 9-10, 100 Days had 189,000 viewers, which means it lost 65 percent of its Walker audience.

It was also last in every age demographic — 18-34, 18-48, 25-54 — that mattered Thursday night, which is depressing for those of us who care. I really hope the majority of the 189,000 viewers weren’t IndyCar fans, because if that’s the case, we’re in trouble. The re-air Sunday night on the CW had an uptick to 196,000 viewers, and I’d have to assume that wasn’t the same 189,000 from its premiere, so that would be positive. I’m also told the re-air delivered a younger demographic than the premiere, so that’s another positive.

I don’t have data for it — I’ve asked — and hope that the CW’s highly touted streaming audience, a powerful youth-based segment that only consumes the network’s content via its app, put up big numbers for Ep. 1 and will return to boost the numbers through streaming in Ep. 2, and so on.

As disappointing as the debut’s Nielsen ratings were, I’m sure they’ll improve with each new episode. It’s going to take time to establish 100 Days as something newcomers will learn about and hopefully get into the habit of consuming. Tomorrow’s episode features Pato and Colton, which is as good a hook as you could bait for the demographic IndyCar’s chasing. Fingers crossed.

IndyCar’s foray into the docuseries world seems to have been reasonably well-received by the Mailbag clan so far. Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

Q: The guy you were trying to remember who tried running without a rear wing back in the ’80s was Tom Sneva. I can’t tell you exactly where or when, but that guy would try anything to go a little bit faster.

Alan Hummel

MP: Thanks, Alan. Indeed it was, at Michigan in 1984. I found a photo of it in the archives I was given by a friend years ago (below) and there’s no rear wing on his Indy car.

MP Archives

Q: This question is from my 9-year-old about the Indy 500 flyover. He respectfully requests that you ask whoever is responsible for scheduling the flyover the following question. I would also appreciate it so I do not have to say “I don’t know” every single day from February until May… From Landon: “Why doesn’t the B2 stealth bomber do the flyovers anymore? Or at least something cool like the F22/F35? Can you please ask the Air Force to fly those over this year? Thank you!”

Landon, age 9

MP: That’s a great question, Landon. I wouldn’t think IndyCar or the Speedway decides which planes the Air Force uses, but hopefully they can put in a special request for you.

Q: Not a question, but more of a suggestion for the executives at IndyCar and Speedway Motorsports. I’m glad the current Nashville street circuit needs to find a new home. While economics, and infrastructure, would obviously drive everything, I would love to see the city’s IndyCar race move to the complex where Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville is located. How cool it would be for the renovations to the area to be set up to include a street circuit, which would feature a loop around the historic short track (once renovated by Speedway Motorsports, assuming all of the approvals go through as needed)? To me, it would be a win-win for all involved and add another piece of history to a legendary complex which is set to be a fixture and economic driver in the city for years to come.

Kevin, Milton, PA

MP: You’ve just made every IndyCar race engineer have a panic attack as they considered what they’d have to do to come up with a setup for the world’s first short-oval street circuit.

Kidding aside, I love the idea. What a unique layout. Might be the best one I’ve heard in years.

Q: Just wondered your opinion on why fans are so angry about so many things. Why do they seem to think CART was the glory days of IndyCar racing? I loved it, but was it not the beginning of the end of the small teams, and true innovation at Indy? It was the beginning of spec cars, sealed engines and rules to control costs. Why does everyone think a finish has to be under green, and less than a car length for it to be a good race? A domination of the field should be looked at sometimes, as a remarkable feat instead of a snoozefest. And one last question: shouldn’t any driver be able to do everything he can to stay on the lead lap? After he’s lapped, a totally different situation, but if the leader is so much faster, why should a driver just give it to him?

Craig S., Paoli, IN

MP: In order:

  • CART was the best iteration of IndyCar I’ve experienced and all of the veterans who worked or drove in the series will tell you the same thing.

  • I can’t think of anyone who knows what they’re talking about would claim CART was the peak of innovation. That would be the 1920s and 1930s at Indy, and again in the 1960s through early 1970s.

  • Everyone does not think a race must finish under green, etc.

  • It depends on the driver. The person who led the race, had a problem, and is trying to avoid going down a lap should fight like mad. The person who routinely finishes 15th, who is never a threat to win, who puts up a big fight, is just an a-hole.

Q: Just how big a deal is IndyCar in Alabama? The attendance always looks good, and I know it’s a popular venue among the teams. Who would’ve thought an IndyCar event would take such a hold in NASCAR territory? Or is it a different kind of crowd like the one in Nashville?

I ask this as I remember the IRL’s two races at Charlotte and, sadly, why IndyCar have never went back there despite a notion to race on the Roval, as well as both CART and the IRL racing in Atlanta and the IRL racing on the big concrete oval near Nashville. Could a properly promoted race succeed in the Carolinas? Could IndyCar race at Darlington or at another almost-lost track, the Rockingham Speedway?

I have a huge soft spot for the old North Carolina Speedway as that’s where the greatest ever, Jim Clark, made his one NASCAR appearance in 1967. It’s seen some rough times over the past 30 years, but it always seemed a challenging track for stock cars finest despite being only a mile long. It was also on the original CART schedule for 1979 but never happened. What is the current situation with the track? Is there a latent potential fanbase for IndyCar to tap into in that area after NASCAR abandoned them? Yes, you would need to find a fairy godmother like sponsor/promoter like HyVee or Bommarito but I would love to see a reborn American or Carolina 500 race as a 500km IndyCar event. It would be a local track for the Penske boys as well.

Slightly off tangent, but whatever happened to Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake? Used to see it when we had the Grand-Am Series highlights on television over here, but the last I saw of it was the Matt Le Blanc era of BBC’s Top Gear doing some filming there. Was that ever on IndyCar’s radar as a possible venue? If only they hadn’t ripped up the old Trenton Speedway in New Jersey!

Peter Kerr, Hamilton, Scotland

MP: Best I can offer here is the well-known and highly territorial habits of NASCAR and the tracks it owns and the other that it doesn’t. It’s one thing to have IndyCar at Texas an Iowa, and another to be welcomed into the heart of NASCAR country these days when the cozy old relationships between the Speedway and stock car racing have changed. Different era when Tony George and the unpopular IRL frequently played on NASCAR/ISC/SMI ovals and NASCAR was indebted to IMS when the newish Brickyard 400 was a raging success.

Miller’s still there, bought by a Chinese auto company and used for a variety of purposes. I’m sure it was on the radar when it was new and the Miller family were investing heavily in bringing major series to Utah, but that only got them so far and before long, it fell out of favor with major series.

Miller Motorsports Park (now Utah Motorsports Campus) had a spot on the ALMS calendar between 2006 and 2010, was also a semi-regular stop for Pirelli World Challenge, but in recent years it has fallen out of the picture as a venue for major racing series. Dan Streck/Motorsport Images

Q: A lot folks are surprised by the Porsche 963. Given the amount of developmental testing the 963 underwent, I would have bet it would be the dominant chassis in IMSA by now and be challenging Toyota in the WEC, but no.

I seem to remember the Mazda/Multimatic DPi had a pretty trick front suspension. Was this carried forward to the 963? It took a while for Mazda to tame that chassis. Is suspension setup the 963’s issue?

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

MP: I don’t have the same recollection about the Mazda RT24-P and a trick front suspension. But the front and rear of the 963 have certainly been an issue in terms of complexity and options. The front, in particular, is really adventurous, which has befuddled the factory team more often than it should. The worry is for customer teams with far fewer resources and their ability to find the car’s suspension setup needs — a needle in a haystack — on a consistent basis. Also of note, we’ve yet to see the LMDh/GTP formula pose a real threat to the Hypercar formula in the WEC.

Q: I’m writing this after watching qualifying of #INDYBHM. Andretti Autosport has dominated the qualifying session of road and street courses so far this year. Grosjean in particular has stepped up his game and become the team leader. Also, it seems he and Kirkwood are getting along very well. (It’s remarkably different from the relationship between the Frenchman and Rossi last year).The fact that Herta hasn’t been as fortunate as these guys in recent races is a bit concerning, but it’s a matter of time for him to be back to victory lane. Although you’ve already shed light on a rise in performance of Andretti with this article, what’s your take on the intra-team dynamic between four drivers so far?

Mitsuki Matsuura, Kanagawa, Japan

MP: I asked the three drivers in question and they all spoke to the happy times and positive attitudes under the Andretti tent. They genuinely like each other, which helps, and they’re fast, which really helps. Colton has been the anomaly on track, as you noted. Strange to think that we head next to Indy for the GP and it will mark the one-year anniversary of Herta’s last win.

Q: A buddy and I hopped on Skype to watch the Barber race together. It was proper motorsport, which I mean as a tremendous compliment. There were no gimmicks, just hard racing from guys trying to make different strategies work. We had the in-car radios going from the IndyCar app and kept hearing the fuel save numbers. For example, one said something like, “You have to make at least 82, the guys around you are making 81.”  We kept wondering: 82 what? Is there an underlying unit, or is it just a number on an artificial scale, like “going to 11?” At the least, we thought we had figured out that lower numbers meant more fuel save. Did we at least get that right?

Bob, Champaign, IL

MP: Sounds like fun. Yes, that’s the MPG number after the decimal point. Lots of two-stoppers were having to make nearly 4mpg to get to the finish — that’s a huge number, BTW — so you were likely hearing the 0.82 of 3.82mpg.

Q: So far this year, it looks like Andretti has its speed back. In the first four races, we’ve had four teams fighting for the win: Andretti, Ganassi, McLaren and Penske. We are also seeing speed out of others on occasion like Ilott, Lundgaard, and Malukas. The fields are crazy tight, and the racing is great.

Herta, though… it seems as if Herta is off a bit. Is that due to the personnel change done during the off-season? Also, how is Graham Rahal feeling about the first four races? They started out in left field but showed improvement at Long Beach and Lundgaard had good speed at Barber. While not ready to compete with the top four, they are showing positive signs.


MP: Only major change on Colton’s car is his dad moving to Kirkwood’s as race strategist; same race engineer, crew chief, etc. I’m not sure, yet, as to why he looks normal within the team instead of being its clear on-track leader. He had Hunter-Reay and Rossi covered while they were teammates; Rossi pushed him harder last season, no doubt, but in a straight battle for pole or a race win, Herta got the nod.

Grosjean, though, showed flashes of being as fast or faster than Colton last year, and I wonder if the completely happy version we’re seeing with Romain — compared to the rarely happy guy from 2022 — has tipped the internal balance in his direction. Same with Kirkwood. Kyle’s getting more out of Rossi’s old car in his debut races than Rossi did over the last two years in that ride.

I’ll need to put more thought into this and ask more questions, but I wonder if this isn’t so much a case of Herta going backwards and more of Grosjean and Kirkwood moving forwards in the team. Colton’s never been consistently challenged by a teammate; it’s happening now, and how will he respond?

Romain has found his happy place. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Enjoyed the Barber race, but I really wish they wish they get rid of push-to-pass and go with DRS like they do in Formula 1. Maybe it’s because I wanted Roman Grosjean win, but I think it gives drivers an equal opportunity for drivers to make a legit pass instead of using a pass button.

Alistair, Springfield, MO

MP: I’ve seen enough F1 races to know that DRS is nothing other than aero push-to-pass. Getting within one second of a driver entering a DRS activation zone is all that’s required to make a pass. Without it, every team, except Red Bull, would have its cars sitting one second behind without a chance to pass due to the aerodynamic wash…which was the reason DRS was created. Instead of using DRS, IndyCar gives its drivers a finite amount of P2P, and unlike F1, IndyCar allows drivers to defend by triggering P2P to try and stave off a pass, which is an equal opportunity. F1’s DRS rules do the opposite, so it’s unequal. I’ve never cared for P2P, but I’d never suggest it is unfair compared to DRS.

Q: I’m seeking closure on the Grosjean P2P question. Was there indeed a software glitch/error that took him down to nothing, or does he now understand why the guys were not responding to him when he was pressing the radio button?

Jeff Smith, State College, PA

MP: The working theory is that he simply used up all he had. The Penske team was actively watching and said they saw it being rapidly consumed and so far, Honda has yet to find a glitch.

Q: I’d much rather go to the dentist than hear about fuel saving. Other than dropping a mongoose in the cockpit of every driver caught “hitting their number,” what can be done to keep the pedal to the metal?

Shawn, MD

MP: I hear you, but fuel saving is something we find in most major sports so I don’t consider it unique or evil in our world. MMA fighters, especially those in the upper weight divisions, do not go full throttle in Round 1 or 2 of a five-round match, and we often see them measuring how much energy they expend in every round. Same with basketball players, who sprint when needed but also walk up the court when possible to keep from emptying their batteries before the end of the game.

But I can’t argue with wanting to see the effect of fuel saving on a less frequent basis. Will Power was able to rip through the field on his final stint because he was on a three-stopper and the two-stoppers were forced to make crazy fuel mileage and were unable to defend.

I do appreciate the drivers and players who can get the most out of their fuel for an entire game, but maybe IndyCar could look at strategies to make more of its races a sprint from beginning to end. It would require a lot of changes — including extra sets of tires, which would cost more money — but this isn’t an unsolvable thing if the series wanted to go in this direction.

Q: We’ve heard (and seen) much about the impact of banning tire warmers in the WEC this year. Many probably think this is whining. OK, the tires are cold, just deal with it. IMSA does. But are there nuances there are between the WEC and IMSA that make this a legitimate issue? From what I can tell, the tires are the same construction for everyone between both series, with Peugeot being the exception — they seem to run a slightly different size to everyone else, and use that same size front and rear.

I know power can be delivered in different ways between LMH and LMDh. I’m curious to know how a team like Penske or Ganassi feel about the lack of tire warmers in WEC, given they use essentially the same car in IMSA without them. Is this more an LMH-specific problem? Are there aspects we do not think of that magnify the issue in the WEC?

Mark, Mississauga, Ontario Canada

MP: It is indeed a culture change for the WEC teams who’ve relied on tire warmers for decades, and it’s nothing new for the IMSA-bred teams who’ve never had them.

The part I’m struggling to grasp is how Hypercars like the Ferrari 499P that wrecked at Spa, which makes use of all-wheel drive, is traction limited on cold tires. Throw in the ability to dial up traction control to 11, and yes, the explosive complaining is a bit out of place. AWD Hypercars should be in the happiest place of all the prototypes; if anything, the two-wheel-drive GTPs/LMDhs should be in a really bad way.

There’s no doubt that with the cold track, cold tires, and reduction in downforce in this new prototype era, life is especially tough for drivers on their out-laps. But we can’t pretend this is the first time race cars and race car drivers have had to deal with this situation; if there’s a change after Spa, I’d guess it might be in the form of implementing extreme caution and traction intervention when they find themselves in similar conditions.

Q: I know it’s still early, but I have a few silly season questions. 1) Have you heard any rumblings on who could be in line to step into the No. 10 Ganassi car after Palou leaves for McLaren? Armstrong seems to be doing everything right in his part-time role, and his buddy Ilott seems to already have one foot out the door at Juncos. 2) Speaking of McLaren, any more news on them potentially running a fourth full-time car for Rosenqvist, or will he need to look elsewhere? Are there even enough engines for another full-time entry? 3) Could you see Blomqvist getting the nod to take over the No. 06 from Castroneves?

J Silly

MP: Callum’s my early pick for the 10 car, but what if Ganassi decides to slide Ericsson over to the car and backfills the No. 8 with a paying driver? The team really likes Armstrong, but he’d need to double his budget to go full-time. The fourth McLaren scenario will be a function of funding and driver; they’re out of room to take on more sponsors with the three cars they have, so if they land more big partners, another car would be needed to house them. Felix could be retained in that scenario, but with a solid body of free agents and underemployed recent F1 talent to choose from, I’d assume Zak Brown would want a higher-profile driver in the car. I’ll be shocked if Blomqvist isn’t in one of the MSR IndyCars next year.

The 2024 IndyCar silly season is officially open. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Q: Have you participated as a part of a team at the 500? If so, when and what were your takeaways from the experience?

Pete, Ohio

MP: Yes, five straight times from 1997-2001 with TKM/Genoa Racing, Nienhouse Motorsports, TeamXtreme, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Greg Ray twice, Eliseo Salazar once, and twice with Davey Hamilton.

Takeaways: being part of an Indy 500 team was my dream since high school, and achieving that dream with a local team, Genoa Racing, I worked for in Formula Atlantic and Indy Lights and loved, made it particularly special. Same band of friends and idiots taking on the sport’s biggest race, and we did well. Couldn’t believe we got to go into Gasoline Alley every day and work where legends worked, and walking out to pit lane never stopped being surreal those first two years. This was the IRL’s 25/8 era where there were only eight starting spots available to newcomers and non-full-timers like us, and we were up to the task — which felt great, considering how small we were and how poor we were.

Third time, with the still-injured Salazar, was a humbling affair. He didn’t want to be there, but that’s how he made his money from the sponsors, and it was a struggle the entire time. Did well in qualifying to earn 18th, but he went straight to the back at the start and was first out — crashed on his own in the T1-T2 short chute — on lap 18 and nobody on the crew was upset about it. Salazar was OK and it brought an early end to a forgettable month.

Fourth was with TeamXtreme, which was the worst team — with the worst team name — I worked for. That’s a story for another time. And the last, which I had a feeling would be my last because I wanted to try living a normal life, was with Sam in his first season as a team owner. I loved most of the five; 1999 was a waste in terms of competitiveness, but the crew were awesome and some remain friends today. Can’t say the same about most of 2000; terrible decision on my part, but I got to work with a few quality people like Jeremy Milless, Mark Weida, Tim Neff, Dan Rushing, Terry Wilbert and so on, but there are plenty of other stories like being deposed in a lawsuit between the team and an electronics vendor to put in a book one day.

And 2001 was cool in so many ways. Driving in each morning was no less special than the first time, but it was also starting to feel like a bit of a routine, and didn’t want Indy to become normalized — just a part of the season. I’ve done it many times now as a member of the media, and it still feels special, and for that, I’m thankful. The day it stops feeling that way is when I’ll retire.

Q: Well, now we’ve seen an episode of “100 Days.”  It wasn’t bad, but I can’t figure out their goal. If I had not followed the sport for 40+ years, and this was my first exposure to it, my takeaways would be:

1) Everyone wants to win the Indy 500 (whatever that is), and Josef hasn’t won it.

2) To win a race, you have to drive for a team called Penske or Ganassi. (Whatever that means, since those owners/teams weren’t really introduced)

3)  Penske has two drivers: Newgarden and McLaughin. Ganassi has one driver: Ericsson.

It really should have started with a better background about Indy: What is has meant for 111 years, and the influence the race has had on society (movie/TV references, global drivers wanting to race there, automaker technology development). Cap the intro with a summary of names like Foyt, Mears and Unser being worldwide legends because of that race, and the dedication of today’s drivers to reach the same goal.

I really like Letterman, but he didn’t provide much context of what the 500 really is, and didn’t even make clear that he’s a team owner. A wasted opportunity and strange editing choices.

On the positive side, they showed the overall competitiveness of the sport, and had some good footage. And they delved a little into why the drivers are interesting personalities. We’ll see where they go, but I just didn’t see much of a cohesive theme or introduction to IndyCar.

Tom Pate

MP: I really do hope Ep. 2 of 100 Days is what was missing in Ep. 1. A friend in the video industry told me it was done in a “spray and pray” style, meaning that it lacked the cohesion you mentioned, and the shooters/producers didn’t know what they were looking at, so they filmed a bunch of stuff and hoped to find things of interest during the editing process.

I did get lost in Ep. 1 with 27 different themes, a half-dozen journalists/broadcasters serving up various things, and a very brief attempt to tie what we saw back to the Indy 500. Felt like the intent was to cram everything possible into the debut. Here’s to hoping Ep. 2 does more with fewer voices and themes.

How’s this: I know the series received a ton of frank feedback from teams, drivers, manufacturers, and sponsors. There should be no lack of input on what worked and what didn’t work which, if it was taken to heart, should have been passed on for improvement.

Q: I gotta say, the people at Barber Motorsports Park hit another home run. I’ve been coming to this track for years and it has never disappointed. This year, I brought about 10 friends who all had a good time seeing the on-track action and touring the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. And to top it off, Zoom Motorsports announced that they’ve signed an extension with IndyCar through 2027! If it isn’t already, Barber needs to be considered one of the premier stops on the IndyCar schedule.

That aside, I’ve got to ask about the rumors concerning Liberty Media and IndyCar. While both have denied discussing a deal, I can’t help but wonder why Liberty Media would even be interested in purchasing IndyCar in the first place. It’s not like IndyCar is a legitimate competitor to F1, so it wouldn’t be a case of buying out the competition. Also, from what I understand, IndyCar isn’t very profitable, so it wouldn’t be a major source of income for Liberty.

The only explanation I’ve heard is that Liberty wants to turn IndyCar into a U.S.-based F1 feeder series, but even that seems a little far-fetched to me. In your opinion, is there a good reason why Liberty would want to buy IndyCar or is all this discussion just someone trying to stir the pot?

Garrick, Alabama

MP: Barber is indeed one of IndyCar crown jewels.

Only reason I’ve come up with is to buy, gut, and shut down its domestic rival. Liberty would have no reason to buy IndyCar and do all it can to make it a raging success in America where it’s currently trying to make F1 the most popular racing series in America.

Who needs Miami’s F1 track with its fake marinas when you can enjoy IndyCar at Barber with a fake cow? Gavin Baker / LAT Images)

Q: If a person watches on the CW app, it registers with Nielsen.

Vincent Martinez

MP: So all we need is to buy 5,000,000 phones and tablets, download the app, and set them all to play every episode… Boom, it’s a ratings sensation! (Kidding aside, thanks for the intel, Vincent.)

Q: How much did the aired version of 100 Days to Indy differ from the pre-screening version that was shown? All in all, I was impressed. Will it bring in new fans? Who knows? But it can’t hurt.

Greg Warren, Little Rock, AR

MP: Having seen Ep. 1 via a screener link I was sent, I didn’t watch the premiere so unfortunately, I can’t say.

Q: Quick question: Blomqvist and Braun in IndyCar next year? Helio and Simon in IMSA? This MSR switch makes sense. Your thoughts?

Daniel B. Martins, Brazil

MP: In your scenarios, I’d put money on Braun leading the GTP program with Pagenaud as his full-time teammate, unless, of course, he starts winning in IndyCar ASAP. With how things are going at the moment, I fear Simon will not be retained in IndyCar and would lack offers from an equal or better team. As for Helio, it’s been hard to watch this season. I’d guess MSR will keep an Indy 500 seat open for him, but I don’t know if a full-time GTP drive is on the horizon.

Q: No one seems to be able to agree on how the sprint races should be run. No matter what F1 does, it seems fans, journalists and drivers find a way to criticize them. I don’t like them myself, but if we have to have them, I think I’ve come up with an idea.

How about making the sprint races completely separate from the world championship? Call it the F1 Sprint Series. It will be its own championship with points awarded for every position, so drivers down the field have motivation to attack. You can have bonus points if you want to, as well. Go the whole hog and make it as different as possible from the Grands Prix.

The weekend format would look something like this:

FRIDAY – Sprint practice 30 minutes, one-lap sprint qualifying, sprint race 75 km

SATURDAY – Grand Prix practice 60 minutes, Grand Prix qualifying

SUNDAY – Grand Prix

This means Friday is “Sprint day” and then once Friday is over, we can focus on the main event. The result of all this is that everyone gets what they want. Purists like myself and Verstappen don’t see the championship get tainted by the sprints, but race promoters and Domenicali get their action-packed weekends.

Please appreciate this idea is in its embryo stages and needs fleshing out, but what do you think of it as an initial plan?

Jordan, Warwickshire, UK

CHRIS MEDLAND: I don’t think it’s bad as an initial plan, although I imagine teams and drivers will still say they won’t take risks because they want to prioritize the main championship. That’s part of the issue with the change, in that it slightly dilutes the main grand prix (not ideal) but not enough to have people give it everything if they’re outside the points, because there’s so little riding on it.

We might see the final sprint of the year take on more significance in a season when teams are tied in the constructors’ standings and countback could come into play, but other than that I think it’s never going to be universally loved because it won’t provide a big enough reward.

To your original point though, I don’t know if F1 will push in the direction of a standalone championship or full doubleheader race weekends, but the baby steps with the sprint so far have brought us to a point that teams were against a few years ago, so I imagine this isn’t the final iteration…

Q: Pierre Gasly’s car caught fire in Baku FP1. Are there on-board fire suppression systems in the F1 and Indy cars? Thirty years ago I raced a Caldwell D13 Formula Vee and that car has a fire system. It’s hard to believe, with all the money invested in the race cars, that they don’t have fire systems.

Jim Doyle, Hoboken, NJ

CM: Yes, they’re in F1. There’s actually a full article on fire extinguishers in the technical regulations that states: “All cars must be fitted with a fire extinguishing system which will discharge into the cockpit and into the engine compartment.”

These systems have to be from an approved FIA list, and must work even when the car is upside down. The regulations also say that “the fire extinguishing system must discharge 95% of its contents at a constant pressure in no less than 10 seconds and no more than 30 seconds,” with the driver needing to be able to manually trigger it when sat in the car with the steering wheel on. But if the fire is outside the engine compartment, then it will need fire marshals to address it externally. The main intention is to prevent large fires or anything that can threaten the driver in a cockpit.

Pretty much all modern race cars have some sort of on-board fire suppression system in the cockpit. Fun fact: The first driver to run such a system at Indy was reportedly A.J. Foyt who, keen to avoid a repeat of a fiery crash he had at Milwaukee in 1965, worked with DuPont to develop an on-board extinguisher that he debuted at IMS in 1967. Image by Zak Mauger/Motorsport Images

Q: Long-time Mailbag reader, first-time writer here. What is the point of NASCAR’s competition cautions? I’m watching the Dover race now and hear that because of the green track, there will be a comp yellow after 20 laps. Larry Mac says some teams might gamble and only change two tires. If the caution is for safety to check tire wear, why isn’t it mandatory for all cars to change four tires? Also, why are these cautions competitive? Since it’s NASCAR’s caution for safety, why don’t they line up for the restart in the order at the time of the caution? That way there is nothing to gain by taking only two or no tires, so it’s safer, right? The way it is, these cautions seem to be pointless.

Scott Chatman, Wisconsin 

KELLY CRANDALL: The point of the competition caution is exactly as you understand it, which is to give Goodyear and the race teams a chance to check tire wear. Because the track is clean after all the rain and there is no rubber laid down, officials don’t want to put competitors in a position where tires are cording and wearing, and it’s going to become a big issue. So, very early in the race, a caution will be thrown. But if teams aren’t concerned based on what their driver was feeling in that first run, they won’t pit.

It’s not mandatory as you mentioned, which has always struck me as odd but NASCAR hasn’t gone down that road. Since pitting isn’t mandatory, NASCAR isn’t going to freeze the field so drivers don’t gain or lose positions. Certainly, these cautions can seem pointless but it’s something the sport has done for quite a while and again, it makes them feel comfortable giving the teams an option to see where they are at with a clean racetrack.

From Robin Miller’s Mailbag, May 8, 2014

Q: You actually said something nice about Ayrton Senna this week! Maybe because of the 20th anniversary of Imola. Anyway, sticking to this side of the pond, do you have any inside information from The Captain or Emmo or The Chrome Horn about Senna’s famous (but secretive) Indy car test at Firebird in 1992?‬‬‬

Larry Parker, Miami, FL

ROBIN MILLER: There’s no denying his ability and I’ve changed my feeling since watching the “Senna” documentary again. After the hosing he got from Balestre, I don’t blame him for taking out Prost at Suzuka in 1990. As for the Firebird test, Emerson encouraged Senna to do it because Indy cars were more race cars than all the active suspension stuff in F1. Senna was damn fast in that test — faster than Emmo — and he loved the fact the car wasn’t over-teched but he didn’t like the thought of ovals.

Story originally appeared on Racer