Revved Up! Readers React to Week's Biggest Racing News, March 22 Edition

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Lewis Hamilton, IndyCar Have Readers Fired UpDan Istitene - Formula 1 - Getty Images

The racing season is only just past the mid-point of March, and while we’re so early on, it almost seems like we’re halfway through the racing calendar, there has been so much action to date already.

In this week’s edition of REVVED UP!!, we cover fan thoughts about Formula 1, IndyCar, NASCAR and more. We’re also adding more reader comments this week than we usually do because there were so many good ones!

So without further adieu, as Steppenwolf would sing, “Get Your Motor Runnin’!”

max verstappen red bull f1
Max Verstappen and Red Bull are already running away with the F1 championship, and it’s only March.getty images

Lewis Hamilton Issues Ominous Warning to Those Expecting F1 to Be Competitive This Year

Readers Say:

apexnut: Historic depending on how long it stays the dominant car. The Verstappen factor makes that notion likely...Other dominant cars that come to mind 2014-2020 MB, early 90's Williams, early 2000s Ferrari.

kit8637: We'll never know exactly how good Verstappen is, unless we see Leclerc, Russell, or maybe one of the "old guys" in the same car. That's not likely to happen. RB wants Verstappen to be the clear #1 on the team, and Checo makes a great teammate for that. He's good, doesn't crash often, but clearly doesn't have the pace of Verstappen.

ktu2498: Lewis never thought that way when he had a dominant car for years.

hawk54: Now that’s the pot calling the kettle black! Hamilton enjoyed unprecedented dominance in his championship years at Mercedes. And now that he doesn’t have the top car, what does he do……whine & complain about the whole sport…….GIVE ME A BREAK 🤮 Just one more reason why it’s time to move on from the Hamilton years.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: Lewis Hamilton is a great driver, but sometimes he just doesn’t know when to catch his tongue. Sure, of course, Red Bull is the dominant team right now, and what Lewis says kind of comes off as sour grapes. There’s only ONE way to change all that: Lewis and Mercedes have to work harder and smarter to get back to victory lane on a consistent basis, as well as become a serious contender for the championship. I’ve been saying for the last two years—ironically both won by Mad Max—that Lewis still has at least one more championship in him, maybe two. And if he can somehow break Verstappen’s stranglehold on winning and success this year, he very well could pull off the upset for the F1 title. As much as many fans love to hate Lewis, don’t undersell him – because that’s when he’ll make you eat your words.

lewis hamilton f1 formula 1
Lewis Hamilton is determined to make it back to the top step of the podium.getty - Getty Images

F1 Wins King Lewis Hamilton Is Definitely Down, but Not Out: 'I Will Win Again'

Readers Say:

Joe3: I admire his positive attitude. As long as I've watched there has been one dominant team. Can he win again - sure why not? BUT can Mercedes dominate like they did ..................... time will tell and I'd bet against that happening.

Lxsusrcks: I just want to see Hamilton and Russell battling head to head in championship-caliber cars.

FranklinCain: Of course he will. Nobody can compete with Mercedes overall-they have infinite amounts of money, engineering, R&D, production capabilities, infrastructure, best pit crews, 1,500 member "Team", PR and influence with FIA. They will get their act together - "they are too big to fail" as they say on Wall Street..

tucker442: I think Mercedes is the one who is dropping the ball here. His car is just not fast enough. I’m not a Mercedes fan and I’m not a Hamilton fan but this poor guy really needs to win a few more before he ends his career. It’s always better to go out on top, not falling to the bottom and then retire.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: Like I said in the previous answer, Lewis Hamilton will indeed win again. I’ve been saying for two years now that he’s a win and championship waiting to happen again. He just needs to get on a roll. In the last couple of decades, there’ve only been a few drivers who were able to put together consistency and wins and championships into one nice, little, neat package. Of course, there’s Michael Schumacher, as well as Sebastian Vettel. Lewis is far from done, even if he is closing in on 40 years old. He’s ready to show the old guys still rule, and if Max somehow forgets that, Lewis will make him pay, trust me.

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Formula 1 attracted 440,000 fans to its race weekend at Circuit of the Americas in Getty Images

IndyCar Needs to Evolve in Face of F1's Exploding Popularity in the US

Readers Say:

ard2298: Definitely there are two entirely different fan bases. When F1 was running at Indianapolis from 2000-2007 I really saw it. Some fans would be IndyCar fans and they came to check it out. They hated everything about it and complained to me the whole time about how things were done. Speaking of two fan bases, the author mentions IndyCar not wanting to compete with the NFL. Really? Is there that much crossover? Does NASCAR feel the same? I think there would be more crossover between NASCAR and NFL fans than IndyCar and NFL. Not to mention the odd times IndyCar runs, I don't think it would be a conflict. That brings up another point. The times of IndyCar races. Summertime races at dinner hour. Who is inside watching racing when you can be outside grilling and enjoying the weather? That has to be fixed.

sta2253: Sadly the oval races that made IndyCar unique are now almost gone.

PSU1BOB: Bring IndyCar back to Pocono. I went to every Pocono IndyCar race in the 2010s . . . and its attendance has grown every year. Pennsylvania and the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic needs more races.

Lxsusrcks: I don’t think that significantly increasing the number of IndyCar races should be the main focus. Adding a race in the Northeast seems to be more logical to me. Why is IndyCar totally disregarding a huge portion of the US population?

gvp3308: More road and street courses, standing starts on same, rolling starts only on ovals. More chassis and engine choices and allow teams to make some engine and chassis modifications in season. Keep it interesting, today it's too static and predictable. I believe this can be done and still cost a fraction of what F1 cost.

big1874: The first root cause of this issue is that IndyCar is controlled by the owners and not a Liberty Media-style investment group. That has been IndyCar's legacy of failures through the generations. Penske is a racer, but not a marketer and promoter. Until this is fixed I am not sure how they ever grow and advance. "IndyCar has to start marketing and promoting itself like there's no tomorrow." That is the actual second root cause of IndyCar's problems. Where does IndyCar even take feedback from its fans? Does IndyCar even pay attention to comments sections like this. I enjoy IndyCar's racing 100% more than F1, but the "image" and presentation of F1 is a 1000% better than IndyCar. NBC does a fair job on races, but they follow the legacy sports broadcasting model and it's just not appealing or engrossing. Between F1 and IndyCar, I still prefer GT racing over open wheel; it relates to what I drive as a road car.

HumansAreDumb: Indycar has been dead since the early 1990s.

sco1907: Agreed the IndyCar schedule is garbage. F-1 is so much simpler to be a fan of, I know there is generally a race at least every other week, sometimes consecutive weeks from the start of the season to the fall break and then from fall break to the end. The only indy car date I am sure of is the Indy 500. Otherwise I am never sure when or where to find a race. Running a race and having a month off is stupid. Also not running races in the fall is stupid. The season just ends right when it might become interesting. I would like to be a fan, I have watched every Indy 500 since the late 1980s for example. I was a die hard IndyCar fan at its peak before the split. But the series is still hard to follow. So occasionally I watch an IndyCar race and by contrast I have watched almost every F-1 race for the last 20 years.

foo8303: I think IndyCar should develop some international races. Start with Canada and Mexico. Then add some countries where IndyCar has international stars (think Pato O'Ward, Alex Palou, Scott Dixon, Marcus Erickson and Romain Grosjean). We have all these stars coming to the U.S. without any American drivers in F1 (Logan Sargent notwithstanding).

Indy5000: IndyCar needs to embrace oval racing again. It's the DNA of the sport, and the key thing that differentiates it from stuff like F1.

carwriter1: Let's be honest, Jerry. Miami was more of an event than a race, with more attention focused on who was prowling the paddock than who was driving the race cars. The average racing fan couldn't even afford to buy a ticket. It was a novelty, it lost a tremendous amount of money, and it's unlikely to turn a profit this year. Las Vegas is shaping up to be an even bigger novelty...and even more unprofitable than Miami. And with several resorts (Wynn, Caesars) offering "race packages" in the million-dollar-plus range, is F1 really building a fan base here in the US or just catering to the whims of the rich and famous? The Miami and Las Vegas business models aren't sustainable and they'll be gone in a few years, just like F1's previous races in Las Vegas, Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas, etc. And IndyCar will still be here, pushing their product to real racing fans who don't arrive at the track in chauffeur-driven limousines.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: My column did not go over very well in the IndyCar offices. I didn’t mean any malice, I was just pointing out the obvious—which IndyCar oftentimes overlooks. But at the same time, I understand the frustration and anger of some folks in the series. There are so many things they’d love to do, but for whatever reason—be it money, logistics, politics or whatever—they can’t do it.


I TOTALLY agree there should be a race in the Northeast (although we saw what happened with the proposed Boston race in 2016). I’d love to see them race at New Hampshire again. And yes, Pocono would be a great venue to return to, but fans just didn’t support the races there. There’s plenty of wish-list places I’d love to see IndyCar race in, including Denver, Vancouver, Mexico City, Salt Lake City and more. Nearly three-quarters of the 17 races are in the Midwest. You can’t grow a series with that limited distribution of your sport.

While Roger Penske’s purchase of IndyCar has helped, there is still so much more that can and should be done, yet little has been done. I also agree there needs to be more oval races—at least seven or eight would be a good number to shoot for. But the biggest problem IndyCar has is its outreach efforts. Consider last year’s race at Texas Motor Speedway: several drivers told me they had friends who lived in the Dallas Metroplex who didn’t even know a race was in town—until AFTER IT WAS OVER!

IndyCar needs to offer up numerous promotions and events that draw fans in and increase awareness. Sure, it’s a costly proposition to put on a race, no matter where it is. But if IndyCar thinks it can simply throw open the doors to a particular track and the fans will pour in, they are sadly mistaken. That’s similar to the case with Phoenix. There are TONS of IndyCar fans in the Valley of the Sun, or those who would be willing to drive over from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, etc. But if there’s no promotion, is it any wonder Phoenix no longer hosts a race? It’s not the quality of the racing or the stars of the series, it’s a lack of viable promotion.

And lastly, yes, IndyCar appears to be deathly afraid of the NFL. That’s why the season ends so soon, so that it doesn’t go head-to-head with the NFL. That’s old, staid thinking. Put races in the fall in markets that are sure to draw fans—like Barber Motorsports Park, Phoenix, Florida and maybe a second yearly race in Las Vegas—and the NFL “problem” will likely resolve itself. But again, IndyCar needs to promote the heck out of EVERY event, and they certainly can’t have a month’s time between races like St. Pete and Texas. It’s a great series, but it has poor logistical decision making and marketing. Fix those areas and IndyCar will thrive again like it did in the 1980s and into the 1990s before the split with the IRL.

ty gibbs nascar
Ty Gibbs has the early lead in a two-driver Rookie of the Year race.Getty Imagres - Getty Images

How Ty Gibbs Has Early Lead in NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year Derby

Reader Says:

* WeCareALot:” You'd think Toyota would put out a 2-door Camry as a NASCAR-inspired limited edition car.

JB Says: Oh boy, don’t get me going on this one. I’m sorry, but I'm not sure Ty Gibbs is quite ready for the Cup Series. I’m really surprised that Coach Joe would put him in a ride and let Kyle Busch get away to Richard Childress Racing. And of course, the only reason for that is Ty is Coach’s grandson. Ty is no Joey Logano, who at 18 years old was picked to replace Tony Stewart. Sure, Logano made mistakes early-on, but he’s gone on to become one of the best drivers in the series—and of course, Joe let him get away, as well, just like he did with Busch, which is a move that is definitely going to come back and bite JGR in the butt this year, I believe.

Yes, there are only two Rookie of the Year candidates this year in Cup, the younger Gibbs and Noah Gragson. Neither has shown much this year to date, so much so that maybe if their respective lack of performance continues, there might be consideration to not giving out a ROY award this year. Ty Gibbs needed at least another year or two in Xfinity, regardless of the fact he won last year’s championship in a very diluted field of talent. Joe may be building for the future, as it’s looking like he’ll be going through a massive rebuilding program over the next 1-3 years, with Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. likely heading for retirement sooner rather than later.

When NASCAR told Josh Williams to park his car, he did just that.FS1

NASCAR Driver Abandons Car on Front Straight Mid-Race, Calls It a Day

Readers Say:

pel1769: NASCAR has Valet service now? … I guess next time NASCAR will specify WHERE they want Josh to park his racecar.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: Josh Williams needs to be parked for more than just one race. To pull a stunt like he did, he should be parked for the rest of the season, go through anger management training and have a formal sit-down talk with NASCAR’s top leaders to convince them he’s matured and will never pull such a goofy stunt like that again. Who cares if Williams owns the team, as well? If Williams gets away with it, who will be next? NASCAR needs to come down with a hammer, rather than soft kid gloves, and make an example out of Williams. And if Williams starts complaining about having a lack of sponsorship in the future, he only has one person to blame.

kimi raikkonen trackhouse nascar
Trackhouse Racing

These Two F1 Champions Will Race in NASCAR at COTA

Reader Says:

abc3388: This will be interesting. Kimi is straight out with everything. Can't wait to see what he has to say about NASCAR.

Autoweek Contributor Jerry Bonkowski Says:

JB Says: While my better judgement tells me that Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button are both going to be pushed and shoved and have their fenders bent in early, leading to equally early departures, my inner self is actually rooting to see them both end up with top-10 finishes in Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas. And let’s not forget that IMSA star Jordan Taylor will also be in the field, along with seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson and IndyCar driver Conor Daly.

Honestly, this race has the promise of being one of the most unique events the Cup Series has had in a number of years. If you’re even the most casual NASCAR fan (or an F1 fan who has nothing to do since the series is off this weekend), you owe it to yourself to make sure you tune in for this one. As they say in the South, “this one’s gonna be a good ‘un.”

Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski