Q: The most exciting part of an F1 race are the standing starts. Why does IndyCar still not have it for street/road races? I could sort of understand five-six plus years ago when the car was new, but come on already. It would add some excitement.
RM: Good question. They were perfect for Long Beach, Portland and Toronto in 2007 for Champ Car, but I guess the glitches they had a few years ago in IndyCar scared everyone off. But it makes street starts so much better.
Q: Do you think the time is closing in for Marco to consider hanging up the gloves? Do you see him moving into a management role and ownership position within Andretti Autosport? If so, what timeframe?
RM: No, he’s only 31. I would imagine he’d go try sports cars in a couple years if things don’t get better in IndyCar, but can’t see him quitting. And I don’t see him as management, but then again, I didn’t think Michael would become a car owner so you never know. Marco is the conundrum of the past decade because he’s got ability and speed. There’s just something missing.
Q: This is very short and to the point: Why doesn’t IndyCar implement a rule that states if you want to compete in IndyCar, you have to run one car in Indy Lights? Instant field of cars. Has anyone with the power ever truly floated this little bit of NASCAR dictatorship? Your opinion?
RM: IndyCar offered extra test days if you fielded a Lights car, but that didn’t create much in the way of new entries. I would simply say, if you want the full Leader’s Circle payments, then you field one Lights car. If not, you lose a third of your money. That would get some action.
Q: The few entries in Indy Lights and the overabundance of entries in other Mazda Road to Indy classes leads me to believe there needs to be some sort of consolidation so Indy Lights can end up with 14 – 18 entries for a weekend. Any chance in the near offerings that Indy Lights might increase its number of entries?
Tom Nelson, Somers, WI
RM: You mean like an IMSA race? Run Pro Mazda and F2000 with Lights? That would detract from those two classes and also be pretty dangerous. But Dan Andersen seems confident the entries will go up in 2019.
Q: I don’t think you meant to say that Darrel Waltrip “chastened” you, because chastened means “to have a restraining or moderating effect on.” I’m guessing you meant to use “chastized,” which means “to rebuke or reprimand severely.” I enjoy your work, and hope everything is trending upward in your health situation.
Dave, Speedway, IN
RM: Thanks Dave. Is it any wonder I flunked out of Ball State?
Q: Why is the Firestone Fast Six not called the Firestone Slow Six on road and street courses? More often than not, the fastest times set in qualifying are set before the last round of six because of the limited number of sets of Firestone alternates available to the teams. To me, having tire strategy play a role in qualifying seems counterintuitive to the entire purpose of qualifying. It’s also a little weird to see the starting grid qualifying speeds before the race and see 7th-9th with faster qualifying speeds than the top six. Would it really be such an ordeal to give teams in the Fast Six an extra set of alternates that could only be used for the one round of qualifying? Hopefully this helped break up the monotony of questions I’m sure you have received about the finish of Iowa.
RM: Well the Indy pole winner isn’t necessarily the fastest either because of Saturday’s runs, so I guess the solution is not to run any times and speeds except for the final runs. I get what you’re saying that the fifth-fastest guy in the round of 12 winds up being quicker than the driver that wins the pole in the Fast Six. But the Fast Six is good drama, regardless, and I’d just like to see everyone get one extra set of reds after making the Fast Six.
Q: About Sonoma, which is my home track: Yes, I see where attendance has been declining over the years. What is exactly wrong with the racing line? Attendees can see almost the entire track from any viewing location on the premises. And motor coach viewing spots are sold out well in advance of the race. There appears to be another track configuration that could be used. Kindly explain why the different configuration would produce better racing, or not. Stop with the bad-mouthing, without clarification as to what’s actually wrong! And… might the different configuration be tried this year? Will removing double points reduce the complaints about Sonoma Raceway? Maybe that’s all that is needed!
Bill in CA
P.S. Thanks to you and NBC for the remembrance for Dee Ann Andretti during the pre-race show.
RM: I suppose they could run the long course that NASCAR uses to give them a longer straightaway and better passing opportunity, but Sonoma’s problem is the same as Laguna Seca’s – they were built 65 years ago for sports cars and not 230mph Indy cars with amazing grip. They are both simply too narrow and don’t have many places to pass. Sonoma is one of the great places to watch a race because you can walk around and sit on those cool mound seats, and Diana Brennan and her staff do a great job of promoting the race in a city that could care less about anything but NASCAR. I don’t ever recall the camping being sold out for IndyCar, but NASCAR gets a great crowd. And double points need to go away period, especially if Sonoma stays.