Revved Up: Autoweek Racing Readers Have Their Say, Oct. 6 Edition

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Revved Up: Readers Have Their Say, Oct. 6Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

As the racing season continues to wind down, bench racing via Autoweek’s Revved Up! weekly mailbag continues to ramp up.

Grab yourself a cup of coffee or soda or even a beer and check out some of this week’s interaction with readers:

Denny Hamlin Blames NASCAR’s ‘Bad Leadership’ for Next Gen Car Safety Issues

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Readers Say:

2001225: If Hamlin wasn't talking about (NASCAR president) Steve Phelps, then who was he talking about? Makes no sense. I have seen NASCAR decline in every way since Phelps took over. He's more worried about non-racing social issues than racing. He needs to go. I think Hamlin is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He's just covering his 'tracks' now.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: Love or hate him, there’s no disputing that Denny is one of the most passionate individuals about the sport. Plus, he sees things from two unique perspectives that most other drivers don’t: he’s both a NASCAR Cup driver and a Cup team co-owner. He “gets” how one impacts the other and vice-versa. I will take Hamlin at his word when he said he “made it clear (he) was not directing anything at (Phelps).” There are others under Phelps who had a more direct role in developing the Next Generation car, which is where I think Hamlin’s ire is focused upon. That being said, and this is not an excuse as safety is the No. 1 priority, but the Next Gen car was going to have growing pains in its first year and I believe next year much of its struggles in 2022 will be gone.

NASCAR Comes Down Hard on William Byron for Ramming Denny Hamlin at Texas

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Readers Say:

Justbob: Once again NASCAR proves what a joke it has become. Extremely harsh penalty for a joke of an infraction. I'm not saying that bumping Denny under caution is OK. If they felt any kind of penalty was in order, it should have been handled immediately. At the very maximum, by race end. But no, NASCAR cannot determine if it was an issue or not for almost two days? Sorry, but NASCAR should get the penalty for incompetence and lack of fair officiating. A stop and go, or to the back of the line, nobody would argue with. But major fines and probably torpedoing the young man’s championship run two days after the fact, is way out of bounds. It is funny how certain drivers are judged compared to others. Zero consistency and penalties way after the fact show how there is class warfare in this circus. The trapeze artists and the lion tamers are treated totally differently by the clowns running the circus.

Adw55: It's a lose-lose situation for NASCAR. If they had done nothing they would have been accused of favoring Hendrick. They do it (way too late) and are now accused of "class warfare." Agree that it should have been done much earlier if they were going to do it, and I think they should have released some sort of statement defining why they imposed the penalty they did; otherwise it's just as lame as critics are pointing out.

HornetRX-7_FD: NASCAR must restore credibility with fans and drivers/teams by consistently categorizing intentional hits for what they are. The action NASCAR took with WB is 100% correct and can be the basis for decisions going forward. Any sanctioning racing body needs to do the same; it keeps drivers/cars on track longer, racing costs lower and fans celebrating great racecraft. If a fan wants Demolition Derby, attend and fund those events. It has no place in today’s race car scene.

Roxie44: Does NASCAR really have to explain why intentionally slamming into a car and spinning it during yellow flag conditions merits a penalty? The safety of pit crews, safety personnel, and track workers is important. Not everyone has a helmet and roll cage!

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: I see both sides, that of the readers and that of NASCAR. Yes, NASCAR should have addressed the Byron penalty during, or at the very least, immediately after the race. It should not have waited two days to make a decision. Roxie44 makes a very astute observation that what happens to track personnel and the risk they run of sustaining injury if the Byron vs. Hamlin wreck goes wrong and one or more folks in the pits gets hit? I think a more appropriate penalty would be Byron be immediately DQ’d during the race for what he did and a $25,000 fine. This way, he loses money and he loses any points he may have earned. It’s the same principal, just no need to wait two days or longer to make a decision. NASCAR needs to be ready to make immediate decisions when it comes to incidents of this type.

W Series May Be Nearing End of the Line

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Readers Say:

Formaldehyde: This series is obviously the wrong way to go about things. Women are perfectly capable of competing head to head with men in motorsports. So instead of wasting the money, they should be sponsoring Jamie Chadwick and similarly talented women in F2 and F3. When one of them finally shows they are experienced and talented enough to be ready for an F1 seat just like the men do, that is when you will see the first really competitive female F1 driver.

Aus890: Exactly! It still amazes me that Indy Car, NASCAR etc. need to have "diversity" programs that are specifically aimed at women and racial minorities. In drag racing in the 1950/60's it was difficult for women to be accepted but that changed and for over 50 years they have been a major part of the sport. Minorities have been around since the start of the sport and there has never been a need to have specific programs to allow them to compete.

Formaldehyde: Discrimination is an entirely different matter. I was referring to the supposed need to have separate female-only racing when they are physically capable of competing head-to-head with males, unlike so many other sports where differences in sex make such a huge difference. Both sexism and racism are just as pervasive in motorsports as they are in society in general. There is a reason why Willy T Ribbs was unsuccessful at progressing past Trans Am given his talent and experience, just as there is a reason why there are no female drivers in F1, IndyCar, and the top tiers of NASCAR at present. Some of it can be explained by what is effectively the same as de facto segregation. There are not nearly enough affluent black pushy parents who want their kids to be race car drivers, just as there are not nearly enough white affluent pushy parents who prod their daughters either. But despite all that, there are some who do break through the barriers. What they then find is that there are very few sponsors who are interested in them. If it wasn’t for Go Daddy, Danica Patrick may have never become an IndyCar and NASCAR driver. She is still vilified by many, just as Lewis Hamilton continues to be despite 7 F1 championships.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: I love the W Series. I admit I had early doubts about the sustainability of the series, but I was also willing to keep an open mind. Jamie Chadwick could race on my team ANY day. But all that being said, and particularly with the serious financial difficulties the W Series is reportedly experiencing, while I would hate to see the series go away, I think many of the women in the series have more than proven themselves worthy of receiving a shot in other series, particularly Formula 2 and 3—or at the very least, Indy Lights. The problem is getting team owners, who are often set in their ultra-conservative ways, to be open to letting female drivers race for them. I hope F1 or the FIA throws the W Series a financial lifeline because I really would like to see the series continue for a long time. One fan wrote in comparing the W Series to how the WNBA was a fledgling operation back in its early days. The comparison is notable. The W Series needs time—at least another 3-5 more years—before any thought to pulling the plug is given.

Mercedes Team Principal: Lewis Hamilton Says He Can Race in F1 for 5 More Years

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Readers Say:

Jaxter: If he hadn't had transmission trouble (Brazil '07) or a motor blow up (Malaysia '16) and then last year's shenanigans he would be a 10-time champion. He'll be back.

JustBob: Obviously Lewis needs to do what is right for him. He obviously has nothing left to prove. It is possible that he could have continued success. But on the flip side of the coin, he may not. Again obviously the car he drives will play a big part of it. If Mercedes is able to once again provide Lewis with another championship caliber car, then maybe it will pay off. But if Mercedes does not, it could wind up being the “Lewis stayed too long scenario.” Again, that depends on how good the car he's driving will be. Then there is also the senior statesman scenario. Even if he has the best car once again, he will still need to compete against his teammate who is also very talented, but also much younger and probably hungrier. At this point in time that is George (Russell). Yes it is possible that Lewis can still perform at championship levels. So we'll have to see how it turns out. Personally as more of a past Lewis fan, I feel he has nothing left to prove to anyone. As such he should consider going out while for sure he is considered on the top of his game. By continuing he might wind up tarnishing his image by staying too long like Schumacher kind of did.

Mikejt: In the next few seasons if he doesn’t get close to another championship, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go in three.

Iwantmy1LE: Skill and results can rapidly diminish with age, as we witnessed with Michael Schumacher during his later years in F1. While Lewis's ambitions are admiral, he may very well be uncompetitive in his final 2-3 seasons.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: It’s kind of hard to believe Hammy will be 38 in a few months (January 7). He’s just been such a dominating driver that losing a step or two just hasn’t seemed to be in the cards for a guy who was indeed so dominant. If Lewis wants to race another five years, I say more power to him. But there’s a cautionary tale here: if he has two more fair/mediocre years—and maybe even just one more only—Mercedes could potentially give him the boot. It’s not personal, it’s just business. But if he does leave Mercedes not of his own doing, I guarantee Lewis would have little problem finding a home with another team. But as one of the writers said, I also agree Lewis has at least one, and maybe as many as three more championships still left in him.

Ferrari Official: If F1 Cost Cap Penalties Are Too Soft, ‘It’s Probably Game Over’

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Readers Say:

Roxie44: If the 2021 “F1 Championship” team is determined to have cheated, the integrity of the whole F1 series sinks even further. What penalty would be appropriate? Revoking the “Championship”?

JTF6970: Who cares. F-1 is going the way of NASCAR. Gross over exposure, non-stop drama (read, soap opera), crybaby drivers, and an endless season. I followed F1 for 60 years. Excitement didn't have to be generated by PR flacks, or driver histrionics. Just too frustrating, these days. I think I'll read a book instead.

ABC8228: The Politics in F-1 is lots of fun to watch. Toto or Christian doing their stuff, as most good Coaches, Managers or Team Leaders are supposed to do. Dealing with Official-dum on a regular basis has to be entertaining to the owners and the entire team. Watching the Team reactions during the race is very fun for the spectators. "Da Rules!" "What are they and when do they change?" The young drivers always seem to have a tougher time with this mentality than the old pros.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: In a sense, I believe F1 has become complacent in a number of areas, particularly the rules and their enforcement. Something has to be done if rules are purposefully broken, i.e., intentional cheating. The only way to stop cheating is simple: take away all rewards, including championships, prize money, etc. I guarantee that would change things in a hurry. Sponsors would pull out of those egregious teams—or at least shift their money to other teams—and cheating teams would quickly learn that risk vs. reward simply isn’t worth it.

5 Things We Learned About IMSA’s 2023 GTP Cars at Road Atlanta Test

Photo credit: IMSA
Photo credit: IMSA

Readers Say:

Jaxter: Prototypes of what? These cars don't foretell any production car and never will.

IMSA12: When did they ever? These cars are prototypes for the production-based cars that already race in venues all over the globe, and if you don't see their design bloodlines in current and past exotic and hypercars, you aren't looking very hard. And remember, NASCAR is "stock" cars, right?

3da5030: The season has just finished and I am looking forward to the new one.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: These are “prototype” cars. They are in a unique class of their own. As IMSA12 said, you won’t see them in series other than IMSA, although the data they acquire can be utilized in other series. I have long said that IMSA is one of the most unappreciated racing series there is. If you don’t know anything about the series, give it a try. You might be surprised at how much you like the competition—not to mention the “cool factor” of how some of these prototypes look.

A.J. Foyt Racing Dips Into Indy Lights Ranks to Fill 2023 IndyCar Seat

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment/Travis Hinkle
Photo credit: Penske Entertainment/Travis Hinkle

Readers Say:

Jsievers: Am I the only one who would like to see A.J. visit the winners circle one more time as a team owner. The man is a living IndyCar legend for Christ sakes! I'll never forget the year his car stuck in gear so he pitted and jumped out, only to begin pounding on the shift linkage with a hammer. Priceless!

nyn3501: AJ is a rare bird that most younger fans probably will miss seeing and understanding. Times have changed and such personalities probably will be a thing of the past.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says

JB Says: I agree with several readers who wrote in, that we’d all love to see “Tex”, who turns 88 on January 16, win one more championship. Former Indy Lights driver Benjamin Pedersen will be a project driver, meaning the team will need time and patience to develop him in the IndyCar ranks. And this past Thursday, the Foyt crew signed Santino Ferrucci for its other car in 2023. Hopefully, Ferrucci has matured and calmed down from some of his earlier wild ways (let’s not forget his 2018 debacle in F2). If not, Foyt isn’t too old enough to put an imprint of his Texas boot into Ferrucci’s hide. But I think Ferrucci has indeed matured and will make the most—and in a positive fashion—of his second chance at a full-time ride in IndyCar.

Follow Autoweek correspondent Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski