Q: Am I out of my mind here, or is Simon Pagenaud about to lose his job at Penske? Given that his teammates have had zero issue getting acclimated to the new aero kit and he has struggled mightily, I don’t take The Captain to be a patient man. Barring a win or maybe two to close out the year, is it likely that the 2016 champion is getting his walking papers? If so, what do his options look like around the paddock? I have to imagine teams that would have jumped at the chance to sign him before this season would be second-guessing any pursuit right now. If he’s struggling to produce a result in Penske equipmen,t where would he be in a lesser team’s car? I guess my follow-up would be, is there potential that Simon Pagenaud is not even on the grid in 2019?
Ryan Ward, San Jose, CA
RM: I think it’s certainly possible, because Roger was very interested in the plans of Wickens and Rossi, and now I’m hearing Dixon is on his radar since Scott is a free agent. It’s hard to imagine being the champ and two years later losing your ride, but don’t forget R.P. banished JPM to sports cars two years after he won Indianapolis. So to your point, Penske is always looking down the road. But Pagenaud is still quick, just struggling this season, while his teammates have led the most laps and have five victories, so that’s tough to overlook. But Simon won with SPM, and he wouldn’t be out of work long if he didn’t get renewed at Team Penske. I know R.P. usually doesn’t make driver announcements until after the season, but if I were Pagenaud I would want to be hearing something soon.
Q: I used to be an F1 fan but got disgusted with the unsportsmanlike actions of drivers deliberately crashing into other drivers, and dangerous start antics of chopping people. The move by Rossi at the Mid-Ohio start ranks right up there with those disgusting F1 antics. That move (or lack of movement) before the cars got to the starting line could have wrecked a whole bunch of cars before the race even started.
The fact that Race Control let him get away with it was a terrible call. The start should have been waved off, and Rossi should have gotten a warning for his actions. Once the race was allowed to continue, Rossi should have received some kind of penalty. I don’t know what the rulebook allows, but a drive-through might not have been warranted. How about holding him for ten seconds on his next pit stop? They used to do that in the CART days. By not taking action , Race Control just approved this dangerous move for the future. Bad call. Great race though, and a penalty might not have made any difference in the outcome. Seemed like Rossi had the field covered. A penalty probably would have meant a three- stop strategy.
Doug Mayer, Revelstoke, BC, Canada
RM: It did look like a California restart (that’s what they called it when Bill Vukovich used it in the late ‘60s in USAC midgets, and Uncle Bobby was good at it as well in Indy cars) but Rossi claims he just had a shorter gear and that’s why it looked so abrupt. I need to ask Power, Dixon, RHR and JoNew to see what they thought. Wickens called it “cheeky.”
Q: I think it’s time for IndyCar to teach these guys how to do a start. Rossi braking or slowing way down before the green flag just about took out half the field. I would love to see if you could get the telemetry from Rossi (and maybe Power, since he was on the front row) and see what games were played. I know the pole-sitter in theory controls the field, but there has to be some guidelines too. Makes me almost miss Helio’s starts.
Mark in Cincinnati
RM: God, you took the words right out of my mouth about Helio (smile), but I have to say the starts have been pretty damn good this year, especially Indy and Toronto. P.T. called foul on Rossi when he saw the hesitation, and obviously Race Control took a long look at it
Q: I have always enjoyed your insights into IndyCar. I had a question to ask about Alexander Rossi and Robert Wickens. It seems as if Rossi races Wickens differently than he does other drivers. He seems to know Wickens is going to give way, back off, get knocked over, or run off and take it from him without consequence. Rossi doesn’t seem to treat other drivers on the track the same way nearly as often. Rossi seems to know Wickens is just going to take it and like any good driver would, and uses that situation to his advantage. Is this just a matter of Wickens being too nice as a rookie/driver? Do you think this will change in the future? It seems to me that Wickens is going to have to be more aggressive with Rossi in the future. What is your take on this?
Howard Martin, Harrisburg, NC
RM: I think you’re pretty observant, and their previous history in Europe may have something to do with it, but Wickens said the other day it was time to start “giving back a little more and quit taking crap from people,” so we know who he was referring to, and I imagine he meant it. But if you let somebody lean on you without retaliation they’re going to continue to do it, so it’s something to keep us watching.
Q: Wow, what a race a Mid-Ohio. Once again your recap was spot-on. I just sat there Sunday afternoon watching and feeling baffled (again) that IndyCar isn’t the most popular racing in the world. After reading your article on Mo Nunn I got to thinking about Ganassi’s glory days. Did Chip really have Mo Nunn, Tom Anderson and Mike Hull on his team? What has become of Tom Anderson? He seem to fade away after his team with Adrian Fernandez folded.
Steve in Waukesha, WI
RM: Thanks Steve, it was a helluva race and I’m glad it had a nice crowd – it was also the fourth most-watched IndyCar race on NBC Sports since 2009, with almost 700,000 viewers. Chip did have that trio, and Tom was great because of his even-keeled demeanor. He’s retired now and travels the country with wife Cheryl.