Revved Up! Readers React to Week's Biggest Racing News, Oct. 27 Edition

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Readers, Autoweek React to Week's Big Racing NewsMario Renzi - Formula 1 - Getty Images

Last week, Bubba Wallace was the center of attention—and not in a good way—for his overt crashing of Kyle Larson.

And then came Wallace’s half-hearted (let’s face it, he was most likely ordered to do it by Toyota, his sponsors, and his team owners) apology for his road-rage incident and subsequent one-race suspension (which leads to the question, was Wallace even missed?).

This week, NASCAR Hall of Famer and NHRA rookie dragster driver Tony Stewart found himself in the middle of both controversy and attention, as well as several other stories that drew considerable reader reaction.

Here are some of the best comments for this week’s mailbag. And if you want to add your thoughts on a particular topic, feel free to do so at the bottom, or send us a note directly at


Let’s get Revved Up!

Why Tony Stewart Was Replaced as Grand Marshal of NASCAR Cup Race at Homestead

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Tony Stewart’s public relations representative said the three-time NASCAR Cup champion had a good reason for skipping out on grand marshal duty at Homestead.Getty Images

Readers Say:

• 32d3252: Tony said he wanted to do the drag racing because it’s a low-drama sport. Well, once he competes there for a while, he will be mad about something all the time and all of a sudden, NHRA will be a terrible place to be, too! Tony, if you have trouble everywhere you compete, did you ever think that the problem might be YOU?

jed2313: You know, if Tony Stewart had not gone to NASCAR (and the same with Jeff Gordon), it is probable that Stewart would have been an Indianapolis 500 winner several times over, in my opinion. NASCAR did not make Tony Stewart, and in my opinion, Stewart and drivers like Gordon, Johnson, the Busch brothers, etc., helped make NASCAR. Perhaps winning a Cup is more lucrative financially, but I think Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi would agree that winning the Indianapolis 500 is more historic and meaningful in the overall world of motorsports than being a NASCAR Cup champion.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: Jed2313’s response was 100% spot-on. I often wonder what might have been if Stewart had stayed with IndyCar, or if Jeff Gordon had stayed in the sprint car world (or IndyCar, as well). There are so many “what ifs,” and that’s what makes motorsports so fun and appealing. Even drivers today. What might have happened if, say, Colton Herta decided to race in NASCAR or Hailie Deegan went full-time off-road racing like Baja, etc.? And while I disagree with 32d3252’s analysis of Tony and what will happen for him in NHRA, I respect his opinion.

Tony Stewart Miffed at NASCAR Penalties, Happy to Focus on NHRA Drag Racing

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Tony Stewart is making his NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series on Oct. 28-29 at Las Vegas.Garry Eller

Readers Say:

mgbgt1: Tony’s remarks about NHRA remind me of the “good old days” in NASCAR. Miss those days. IMSA is the same way, you can walk around in the pits and almost get in the way.

tucker442: When I started going to NASCAR races, you could go in the pits after the race [to] get autographs or just talk to the drivers it was really cool it’s a shame it got so big. I’m talking mid 60s through all the 70s.

vts7676: I Spent 4 Years With NHRA as the “In House Video Guy” in early 2000s. The atmosphere was great then, and I guess it hasn’t changed. While serious about the racing (and sometimes tempers flared) Drivers, Crews, Officials and most importantly the paying fans really seemed to be enjoying the show, the competition, the drama of it all! While I haven’t been able to attend a National in over a decade, other racing series, and perhaps American Society at large, could learn and benefit from the comradery and spirt of convivial competition I remember from an NHRA National Event!

tld8347: I agree with Motionman...I do not understand the penalties and fines for things that do not matter as much as a safety BW [Bubba Wallace] nearly causing a major injury to a good driver and a good guy...BW needs to grow up and learn how to drive & compete fairly or get along into destruction derby racing not in a NASCAR going 180+. BW gets a minimal slap on the hand and no fine? Takes two drivers out and one in contention for the championship...wrecks three cars...and then wants to fight a guy that is 50+ pounds lighter than him? Come on NASCAR, be fair across the board with penalties and fines.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: I’ve been around Tony for about 20 years now and he is never afraid to say what’s on his mind—sanctioning bodies, sponsors, and what others think be damned. Tony has accomplished so much in his career. He has three NASCAR Cup championships, is a NASCAR Hall of Famer, co-owns one of the most successful (well, maybe not of late) Cup teams, has his hand in Superstar Racing Experience, owns Eldora Speedway. . . . My point is simple: Tony can walk away whenever he wants to, IF he wants to. Frankly, I’m going to be watching his progress in NHRA because I can easily see him racing full time (I’m picking him in a Funny Car rather than a Top Fuel dragster). NHRA is ripe for the pickin’, so to speak, for Tony to come in and become the sport’s second-biggest draw behind John Force. Plus, at 51 years old, Tony can easily race for another 10–15 years, provided he still has good reflexes at the starting line. Give Tony 2–3 years, and if he gets tired of some of the stuff he has to put up with in NASCAR, I could easily see him divesting himself of his NASCAR team and going all-in with NHRA. And Stewart is EXACTLY what the struggling NHRA needs: right time, right place, right person.

Kyle Larson Takes One for the Team, Delivers NASCAR Cup Win at Homestead

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Readers Say:

roxie44: Does anyone at NASCAR headquarters realize the total hypocrisy in banning the Confederate flag, yet having the Dixie Vodka 400?

Irloyal: As uncle Joe might say: Two words, Money.😎

jgw4618: Bubba may want to watch Larson instead of wrecking & bullying him. This is how a class champion conducts himself. Your behavior shows one who is in way over their head.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: Roxie44, Irloyal, and jgw4618 all make good points. I really admire Kyle Larson—more than I ever have—because of how he’s handled himself since the unfortunate incident two years ago. He learned from it, rebounded, became a champion both NASCAR and he could be proud of, and, even though he failed to advance to the Round of 8 in this year’s playoffs, he’s in every race to win, no matter what. Honestly, I would not be surprised to see Larson win the season finale in Phoenix just for the heck of it. In fact, many people seem to forget that the year after Tony Stewart won his second Cup crown in 2005, he failed to make the playoffs. Yet when the 10-race playoffs began, Stewart stole the thunder from all the playoff contenders by winning three of 10 races. Larson is definitely emulating that kind of example right now. He can easily win at Martinsville this Sunday and at Phoenix in the season finale. And you know what? Whoever the eventual 2022 Cup champion is, one thing is for sure: He will have to go through Larson to win the championship.

Colton Herta Signs Long-Term Deal to Remain in IndyCar with Andretti Autosport

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Colton Herta was close to a Formula 1 deal earlier this year before a Super License hurdle ended that bid.Getty Images

Readers Say:

formaldehyde: This cinches it. Andretti was only interested in Herta as his property than he was to see an American driver in F1. That was just window dressing to expand his racing empire.

nyn3501: I see it as a good move for all involved. The team locks in Herta. Herta can concentrate on racing rather than all the noise. If Andretti or Herta is presented with an opportunity in F1, Andretti “could” release Herta from his contract, or renegotiate a seat for Herta, if Andretti finds a way into F1 as a team owner.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: This was a brilliant move on Michael Andretti’s part, in my opinion. He locks Herta in for the next five seasons, but he keeps him in play just in case the long-awaited and long-planned expansion to Formula 1 occurs (and I see that happening in 2024 or 2025). Herta is an IndyCar champ in waiting. I think he takes the crown in 2023 or 2024. And when he does, he’ll have earned enough Superlicense points to qualify to race in F1. I totally agree with nyn3501’s comments. There’s more to this whole thing than just Andretti signing Herta to a long-term contract extension. Rather, this is a situation very similar to Rick Hendrick signing Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson to essentially lifetime contracts. Andretti and Herta make a winning combination, and I’m glad this whole deal was worked out.

Brad Pitt, Mario Andretti, and Final Paddock Notes from F1 U.S. Grand Prix at COTA

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Brad Pitt was on a mission at COTA.Getty Images

Readers Say:

Bix615: Brad Pitt treated Martin Brundle like some random schlep during the grid walk. Shame on you, Brad…learn some history of the sport you are pretending to covet all to make a dime…dooooooosh.

Iwantmy1LE: The celebrities open themselves to publicity when they attend F1 events. Furthermore, Pitt was walking on the grid. It’s not as though Brundle hunted him down. Poor behavior by Pitt on every level, though I’m hardly surprised.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: I’ll admit I’m not a really big Brad Pitt fan, although I did like him in The Mexican and his most recent movie, Bullet Train. But let’s face it, Pitt was at COTA because it’s where celebrities go to be recognized and fawned over. I’m betting Pitt knows very little about F1 as a series and could name maybe 2–3 drivers, tops, that compete in it. Brundle was smart to move on and forget about the diss he got from Pitt because, frankly, Pitt was the one who came off looking bad—to a global audience, I might add. Somewhere, Angelina Jolie had a really good laugh at her ex.

F1 U.S. Grand Prix Results: Verstappen Ties Record, Adds Exclamation Point to Title

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Max Verstappen crosses the line at COTA for his 13th win of the season.Getty Images

Readers Say:

FranklinCain: Verstappen once again showed what he was made of even with an 11 second botched pit stop, he fought his way back from 6th place and then finally passed Hamilton as usual and opened a gap - with Hamilton whining all the way to the finish line.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: Call me crazy, but I still feel that Verstappen has not received his true due. I mean, come on, the guy wins two championships in a row and yet all we hear is how he’s no Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher. Of course he’s not! He’s Mad Max and he’s forming his own legacy. Given he’s only 25 years old and just starting to come into his prime as the sport’s premier driver, I can easily see Verstappen winning two or three more championships in a row and perhaps as many as seven or eight in total in his career. He is definitely on track to have his name mentioned with some of F1’s greats. Stop dissing him and start appreciating what we’re watching from him and the history he’s making.

ESPN Extends F1 TV Deal in United States through 2025

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The ESPN family of networks will continue to be the home of Formula 1 through 2025.Getty Images

Readers Say:

ard2298: I’m BEGGING ESPN, get your own announcers !!

mbe1532: If you go back far enough, the Speedvision team of Derek Daly, David Hobbs, and Sam Posey was the best. … Yeah the breathless blathering, then pass it to another anonymous voice for more breathless blathering. This is the British sportscasting norm, which differs significantly from America’s more conversational style. The Sky coverage is full of good information, but at 8:00 on a Sunday morning, it’s a bit much.

ltc7248: It would be nice to have North American announcers. Got nothing against the Brits on Sky, but when they get excited their voices pitch up and they talk more quickly and are genuinely hard to understand. I sometimes listen to the BBC coverage on SiriusXM while watching the race. They are much more understandable. I laughed while watching Martin Brundle trying to chat up celebrities before the race. Most try to avoid him because they don't know him.

johnnyjewel: You have nailed my main complaint with the Brits on Sky. Additionally, the female voices come and go for me with the excessive modulation and breathiness; I generally stop listening. I had no problem understanding Danica, however.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB: I’ll let johnnyjewel’s comment on Danica go right by (although you can probably figure out what I’m thinking). But as for the other readers’ comments, I agree. Given how important F1 has become to ESPN, it should have its own team of announcers. That being said, however, I don’t have any real negative feeling about the announcing team on Sky. They’re very informative, although I admit that some of the fake “Oh My God” excitement at times really rubs me the wrong way. Some of the announcers act like EVERYTHING they say is gospel and that it is the most important thing going on in F1 at the time—when it’s not. But then, that’s the British/European way of announcing, which is far different than what we used to have with guys like Hobbes, Posey, Daly, Varsha, and others. Because there will be three races in the U.S. starting next year, and a half dozen in North and South America if you include Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, I think it’s just a matter of time before we see ESPN bring on either a full crew of its own announcers, or at the very least, have its own team for those races in the Americas.

Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski