Q: With Will Power out of the race already, did his team pack up and head home on Sunday, or did they stay for the rest of the race on Monday? I know how the transporters are parked and interconnected, just don’t know which one is the No.12. If it is with the awning or in the middle, that would make leaving early very hard. Do all transporters have the same equipment/spares, or do they put all shocks in one, suspension pieces in another, etc.?
Ben, Knoxville, TN
RM: They stuck around, repaired his car and treated the race as a test session. Most teams carry enough spares to rebuild a car.
Q: Why didn’t the time stop during Kanaan’s crash? If you have a red flag during a race the laps don’t keep counting, but in qualifying the time keeps going? That seems super unfair, and less than logical.
Jon Willoughby OH
RM: Don’t disagree. The first two sessions aren’t guaranteed any amount of time, while the Fast Six is guaranteed five minutes, but there should be at least five minutes of guaranteed time for the first two sessions like there was a few years ago.
Q: I know that you’ve been asked lots about the bumping at Indy this year, but I hope you’ll stomach one more long one. I’m 18 and got into IndyCar just a few years ago, so I really don’t have any knowledge of or reference for how bumping works, but I understand that it was a big part of the racing in the past. I am thinking a little bit more practically and about the show and image of the race for this question.
The big pro I see for bumping is that it adds a new level of excitement for qualifying, and could well draw more people to watch qualifying and get people more invested in it. Overall, I think that for fans bumping is a definite plus if you have more than 33 cars. However, I’m concerned for the teams and sponsors, especially this year. With the new aero kit, obviously lots of teams feel like this is a good opportunity to get their feet wet and try out one-offs or full seasons with the new car. What if a team like Carlin getting bumped at Indy, where it has very little to no experience, damages its brand or its view of racing in IndyCar? I know that Carlin is here to stay, but I worry that smaller teams or Indy one-offs may become less likely to want to have an attempt at Indy if they know it could end up being a huge investment for nothing, and they could end up getting sent home after qualifying.
Furthermore, if a sponsor’s car gets bumped, wouldn’t they see that as a big problem since they won’t get exposure on race day? They will have made a big investment for nothing, and then, like a one off-team that didn’t make it, be less likely to want to return to sponsor a car again due to not getting to be in the main event. (I guess the other possibility is that those sponsors will want to fight to get on the cars likely to make it on bump day, but I don’t know if that’s realistic).
Finally, I’m very slightly concerned this year because of the Danica Double. Ed Carpenter sets up damn good cars at Indy, and Danica always ran well there from what I’ve read (I never saw her race in IndyCar), but what if, God forbid, she doesn’t qualify for the 500? It would be a huge issue for IndyCar, and its promotion of the 500 centered around Danica after all the media hype of her making her final start at Indy. Do you think any of these are legitimate concerns?
Max Camposano, Los Altos, CA
RM: It used to be Pole Day, Bump Day and Race Day – all big crowds and lots of drama. But qualifying, other than the Fast 9 shootout, hasn’t been much more than scrambling to get 33 cars the past few Mays, and if you showed up and made four laps at any speed, you were in the show. I get both sides of this and I said a few months ago to start all 35 cars because the purse is a joke, and it’s tough enough to find funding, and 35 cars isn’t anything new.
But I also agreed with Marshall’s argument that you shouldn’t get a spot just because you show up. I do think if a sponsor misses the race that someone else will run it (that used to happen all the time), but as far as provisions for Danica or former winners or champions that run into trouble on Saturday, there is always the special session on Sunday morning. But I think she’ll be just fine with ECU’s track record at IMS.
Q: I agree that cars beyond 33 should not just be automatically given entry in the race. But for financial reasons I also think they should have a chance. Make all them work for it – has a pole speed percentage been suggested for making the field? Maybe it’s already a rule? But maybe it can be tightened, since the cars and engines are pretty even. I guess I don’t know the right number to suggest, but I’d think 105% of pole speed might work as a way to bump anyone that might be a hazard in the race? I like it that you’re getting more camera time.
Mark V, Indpls
RM: I’ve seen that suggestion – run a certain speed and be allowed to start – but financially it’s such a small payoff to just make the race ($200,000 for non-Leader’s Circle teams for the most part) that it’s hardly worth it by the time you pay all your tire and engine bills.