Q: Was the Indy GP any good? I couldn’t tell, I watched it on ABC. I’ve come to expect terrible coverage from them, but they seemed to have hit a new low with this race. It wasn’t just the usual banal commentary and uninformative graphics. They also added incredibly bad camera locations, and topped it off with a record number of laps shown on a postage stamp-sized screen insert so they could run what seemed like flag-to-flag commercials. It all added up to a race that was incredibly hard to follow, and which didn’t much seem like it was worth the effort of trying. NBC cannot take over soon enough.
RM: As road races go it wasn’t bad. Wickens passed Power for the lead on reds and Will return the favor when he went to the softer tires. Scott Dixon and Zachary Claman De Melo did quite a bit of passing from what I saw on the monitors.
Q: With bumping back, you’d have to believe that TV, PR and sponsors have a wish list of who makes the cut. What’s going to happen when Danica or Marco gets pushed out? What if Power cuts a tire? Are there going to be administrative overrides? Will IndyCar have a magic brake remote to make sure some people make it and others don’t?
RM: Here’s the deal. Everyone is entitled to one attempt. Let’s say a big name crashes or blows up on his or her first attempt on Saturday. IndyCar has a “last chance qualifying” provision in its rulebook, and those drivers would be eligible to come back Sunday and run for positions 10-33. But if a major player blows an engine coming down for the checkered flag to compete their initial attempt and posts a time and that speed winds up getting bumped – they’re out. The two slowest qualifiers on Saturday will not be participating in Sunday’s action.
Q: Do you think the idiosyncrasies of the new IndyCar chassis will play a role in Dale Coyne’s decision for Pietro Fittipaldi’s replacement? I know a lot of names have been floated, but we think Townsend Bell could step in without missing a beat. He was really competitive at Indy a couple years back (fearless too). Do you think he has a shot? With all the speculation regarding a possible replacement, we shouldn’t minimize Pietro’s injuries. We hope he recovers quickly and fully.
Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA
RM: No, I think money played the biggest role, and Zachary Claman De Melo got the nod. TBell wasn’t a candidate – his IndyCar days are over.
Q: Was sorry to see Pietro Fittipaldi’s accident at Spa, but wishing him a speedy recovery. Was hoping to see him have a good run at Indy this year, and it was exciting to have a Fittipaldi, Rahal and Andretti possibly competing in the race first time since 1995 (I believe, check my history on that one). Just curious, what are the chances afor Matt Brabham getting that ride for the 500? Looks like he is involved in the Super Truck series full-time this year, but has nothing on that schedule until June. Thought he had a decent month of May when he ran for Pirtek Team Murray. Your thoughts on him?
Chris Stum, Elizabethtown, PA
RM: I’ve always liked Matty Brab and the way he was carving up the junior rungs of the Mazda ladder system, we all thought he’d likely be a full-timer some day with Andretti. But Lights didn’t go as well, and he found himself without a ride. He did a nice job in 2016 on the IMS road course and oval and I’d like to see him get a shot, but it’s all about money. I’m just glad he’s making a living in Robby Gordon’s series.
Q: I did not see Buddy Lazier on the entry list for the 500. Did Buddy decide to back out?
Mike, Knightdale, NC
RM: I think it was simply of question of not having the necessary funding to get the new aero kit and to field a team. The next Lazier (Finn) is Bob & Buddy’s focus.
Q: Do you think, if given the opportunity, that Montoya would run for Coyne if the Captain let him? Speaking of Captain, why wouldn’t he let Montoya race for someone else if it benefits IndyCar and the almighty 500?
Tulsa IndyCar Fan
RM: Good question, because obviously Coyne is no longer the IndyCar doormat – his team contends for wins every time out with Bourdais. But JPM would want to be paid, and I’m not sure Dale could find enough. Besides, once you’ve driven for Penske, is anyone else suitable? RP wants Montoya winning sports car races and not trying to beat him at Indianapolis for another team. I get it but I don’t like it, because JPM could still be a factor at Indy, and I know he wanted to race this month.
Q: Do you think Ricky Taylor is being groomed for a future spot in IndyCar by Penske?
RM: Possibly. Ricky impressed Team Penske with his IndyCar test a few months ago, and I suppose it depends on how the sports car program with Acura develops. May not be an opening at Penske’s IndyCar program for quite a while, so Ricky will likely do whatever The Captain desires.
Q: I saw in your May 9 Mailbag that you’re pretty confident Kyle Larson will run the Indy 500 sooner or later. Do you have any inside scoops on the possibility of this happening anytime soon? I always thought Kyle should do IndyCar instead of tin tops while he’s still young – can always go back to stock cars later in his career, if he really wants to. Also, do you think there’s any chance Danica might be back for more runs in the years to come if things go well and she has a blast, or is this definitely the last time we’ll see her in a race car?
RM: Kyle has always made it clear that Indy is important to him, and even Chip finally acknowledged that running Larson here some day in May is in the cards. But no timeline. When I met Larson in 2010 he said World of Outlaws or NASCAR was where he wanted to make a career, and Ganassi was the first one to step up and sign him. I definitely think this is it for Danica.