Q: After a long absence from IndyCar, this is my second year back as a fan. IndyCar seems to be in a good place with beautiful new cars, excellent drivers, and tight racing. However, I was pretty disappointed to see the Turn 1 incident at Long Beach. I’m not talking about the wreck. It’s Long Beach, Lap 1, Turn 1, drama is almost unavoidable. The problem was that Pagenaud’s car was not hauled back to the paddock.
Seems the mechanics and crew should determine if the car can continue, not the series. In contrast, the series dragged an extended multi-lap yellow following an incident where the car was promptly pulled behind the wall. In the second case, I’m sure there were marbles to sweep and positions to validate. But, from a fan’s perspective, a longer yellow was justified for Pagenaud to allow a tow to the paddock. Is there a rule on this, or was it an official’s call? Thanks for the great coverage of IndyCar.
Jon N., San Diego
RM: From IndyCar race director Kyle Novak:
“There is no rule requiring IndyCar to return a car to a team during a session or race, prevailing conditions dictate IndyCar’s ability to return a car, with the primary goal of returning to green flag conditions as quickly as possible for the fans. Street courses such as Long Beach and St. Petersburg, give IndyCar limited options in which to promptly return a car to either the teams pit box or paddock, then return the wrecker to its proper location.
“Factors such as limited and small overlaps to store safety equipment, and also having our safety equipment in the best location to respond to a future incident, all weigh into this decision. As we mentioned in a previous answer to a fan question, each full course yellow presents us with a specific set of challenges with regard to reordering, how spread out the field is, the severity of the incident, track clean up, and when that FCY occurs in the race, which could dictate a slightly longer procedure such as driving lap down cars through the pits to reorder. Should the teams be able to dictate at their discretion when cars could be returned, it would have a knock-on effect of tying up all of our safety assets returning cars, when we could be returning to racing much sooner.
Q: I’m sitting here watching Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins playoff hockey on NBCSN, and the announcers did an in-game promo for Long Beach this weekend, tying in Hinch (the Canadian connection, of course) trying to be the “King of the Beach.” Then they mentioned that starting in 2019 the Indy 500 will be on NBC! Nice to see they are trying already to bring in fans.
Brian, Mason, Ohio
RM: I think I’ve been saying for months now that NBC will blow out the Indy 500, just like it’s done for the Kentucky Derby, NHL playoffs, Tour de France, NASCAR, Sunday night football and the Olympics. It thrives on big events, and Indy will reap the benefits. I promise you the ratings won’t go down in 2019.
Q: As I’m writing this in, J.R. Hildebrand was just confirmed with DRR for May and James Davison is running a third car for Foyt. What other possible entries are out there in the works? Could we see 36 or 37 by qualifying weekend?
And here’s my view on the topic of starting only 33: I’m all for it. The 500 has been one of the most prestigious races of all time, and those who make the field are often referred to as the “33 Fastest Drivers in the World”. I think it puts pressure on the teams to truly give May everything they have if they don’t want to go home. And it also will attract more attention, because some guys will be at risk of not making the field and it will bring out the best in the drivers on qualifying weekend. I get the argument that it is bad for the sponsors who don’t make the race, but maybe IMS could do something to compensate them on race day. I think IMS should go back to Pole Day on Saturday and Bump Day on Sunday too, to give the extra entries more time to make the field. What are your thoughts?
Ben Neal, Noblesville, IN
RM: I’ve heard Indy Lights’ driver Juan Piedrahita might have enough sponsorship if he can get an engine, and there’s always Bob and Buddy Lazier. But Honda is locked into 19 engines so I imagine Chevrolet could field 17 if needed. I always liked three attempts with one car, but obviously that’s not going to ever happen again. I do like Pole Day on Saturday, but I guess ABC enjoys having it on Sunday.
Q: What power plant is Scuderia Corsa using at Indy? I would like to think Ferrari, but IndyCar rules probably won’t allow it. Thanks, enjoy reading your Mailbag. Been to 64 500’s and counting.
RM: Oriol Servia will be in a Scuderia Corsa Honda next month for Indianapolis, but Mark Glendenning had a story on RACER.com from Long Beach about their plans to go full-time in IndyCar.