Q: I know the big story from Bump Day was Hinch, but can someone spare a few words for Pippa Mann? If anyone got screwed by the new, confusing qualifying rules, it was her. She didn’t get her first run until about an hour before the gun went off, and if her car had an issue (as she’s since asserted), her crew didn’t get a shot at diagnosing it. Oh, and then to add insult to injury, while she’s still in tears they make her pose for a qualifying photo with her unqualified car and then go hold a press conference. I’ve seen a lot of fans say she’s slow, untalented, and undeserving (usually in much harsher words). I know it’s been a while, but let’s not forget that this is still a driver who won an oval Indy Lights race, won a Freedom 100 pole, and bumped her way into the Indy 500 field in 2011 at the expense of guys like Mike Conway, Sebastian Saavedra, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. I’m not saying she was a threat to win the thing, but c’mon, she’s also no Milka Duno!
RM: Screwed? She went out three times in the last hour and just wasn’t fast enough.
Q: Finally, drama on Bump Day. This Fast 9 stuff and the re-qualifying for the rest was set up because they wanted to manufacture some drama and didn’t have the cars to do it.
Hopefully, this upward trend in IndyCar racing will bring more entries, and the need to fall back to a more “traditional” qualifying structure. It was long and drawn out, but it was set up to ensure that the best had every chance to make the race. Plus it was great drama on its own. Also this thing with the TV to cut off at 5:50 is BS. This is the Indy 500, arguably the greatest race on the planet. Play that card.
Bryan, Memphis, IN
RM: There is a 5:58 deadline for national television so I imagine it could have gone another five minutes, but it’s been 5:50 for the past three years so it’s not like the teams didn’t know. But I think we’d all like to see Pole Day followed by Bump Day, and get rid of that insane round of seeding on Saturday. And watching 10-33 on Sunday is hardly great theater either.
Q: IndyCar needs to pull its head out of its ***! Sam Schmidt has given IndyCar so much, as a driver (almost his life) and as an owner a great IndyCar team! And what does he get from IndyCar? A “screw you.” Teams that support the series should be treated with respect, even the fabricated staged racing series understands that. This is 2018, not 1970, and your full-time teams are what makes IndyCar what it is.
RM: Roger Penske said last week in the Indianapolis Business Journal that it’s time IndyCar guaranteed its full-timers a spot in the Indy 500 because “the world has changed.” And he’s right. Just because two cars got bumped doesn’t mean the great old Bump Days are back at Indianapolis, and they won’t be unless we have 40 entries again. And was Indy better off without Hinch and Arrow? Of course not. Thankfully, Arrow seems to be secure enough that missing Indy won’t run them off, but in this day and age you can’t afford to lose any sponsors. And like Bobby Rahal said in the story we did here at RACER, it’s time IndyCar takes a hard look at protecting its assets.
Q: I’m sure you are being inundated with questions and opinions about Hinchcliffe and whether or not he should have been in the show. Regarding sponsor considerations, my question is about the real impact of him not making the show and whether it really is a negative for the sponsor. Obviously, Arrow wants the car in the race, but one could argue that it got a lot more coverage from Hinch not making the show. Not sure how the advertising agencies quantify this info, but it seems he may generate more airtime from arguably being one of the bigger stories of the month. Thoughts?
Steve M. Danville, CA
RM: There is no doubt that Hinch missing the show got more press than Ed Carpenter did for winning the pole position, but I’m not sure that offset the 400 Arrow guests who came to the race to cheer on James. Or the investment. But it was certainly one of the big stories of the season, let alone the month. There use to be a service that timed and added up TV exposure, and it would be interesting to see how much Hinch logged.
Q: I just compared last year’s IndyGP to this year’s GP to compare last year’s aero kits with the new aero kit. The differences are stark. For 2017, there were 28 laps that had at least one pass. Total passes (under green; drivers fighting for position) were 39. Pigot had the most passes at five. RHR had four, and Marco, Pagenaud, and Munoz had three apiece. The others only managed a few the whole race, if at all. Four cars never mustered a single pass the whole day (Power and Helio didn’t need to, but TK and Hinch couldn’t do anything). Not one yellow flag was thrown.
For 2018, there were 40 laps of passing; which is an improvement. But what is amazing to me were the sheer number of cars making passes. As best as I could figure, there were 117 competitive passes under green. All but Hinch and King made at least one pass. TK made nine passes; Chilton and Sato each made eight; Kimball and De Melo made seven apiece. Dixon had five. Pretty incredible. The road course aero package did its job at the Indy GP.
Brent from Maryland
RM: Thanks for those stats Brent, I sent them to IndyCar. It’s been obvious all season that the aero kits for road racing have improved the racing.
Q: I really enjoyed your story about your experiences with Herk. I also learned that we have something in common. The lead-in to the story mentioned that you flunked out of Ball State in two quarters. Impressive. I flunked out of Purdue after two semesters. Then I flunked out of Indiana Technical College in Fort Wayne. Twice. I wanted to get a degree in mechanical engineering so that I could hopefully design race cars. However, I could never learn to master triple integral calculus and differential equations. Perhaps I should have enrolled at Ball State and went for the Indiana trifecta.
Ron Ford, Muskego, WI
RM: You would have been a scholar at BSU, and certainly a candidate to run USAC or CART or the IRL. We could have teamed up.