Q: Miller, nice piece on the Mid-Ohio race, and spot-on. Okay, so Rossi covered everyone at the end, but it was fun to watch and a great show for IndyCar. Looked like a pretty good crowd, too. No questions, just spot-on observations as always. Good job, you geezer.
Jon Jones, Oologah, OK
RM: Good point. It doesn’t have to be a photo finish to be a good race. And I’m almost 69, so aren’t geezers 70 and over?
Q: The new IndyCar might open the door for a sprint car driver. Just west of Mid-Ohio some used to slide like that at New Bremen.
RM: There were a couple of dirt track moments at Mid-Ohio, and it was cool to see drivers sliding their cars – just like Montoya and Servia predicted after testing the new aero kit there a year ago.
Q: I’ve heard that if McLaren does start an IndyCar team, Alonso may not be considered to drive the car because of his critical comments about Honda’s pathetic F1 power unit. Are they that thin-skinned at Honda? I’ve also heard that McLaren will not field a new IndyCar team until it gets its F1 team back to top-tier status. What does an IndyCar team have to do with the F1 team – wouldn’t they be two completely separate operations? Also, if McLaren’s return to IndyCar falls through, would there be any chance that Alonso would come over and drive for Michael Andretti, or would his salary put the kibosh on that?
Steve Sporer, Chicago
RM: I know I’ve said and written that Honda of Japan is still miffed at McLaren and Alonso for all their criticism and that Japanese pride was damaged, so what I’m guessing is that the Mother Ship wouldn’t pay for McLaren’s IndyCar entry. But when you have people writing you checks for $270 million, an IndyCar budget is but a minor expense – especially if you’re just leasing a car or two. But all the McLaren money is one pot, and Zak Brown has said repeatedly he wants to get the F1 house in order before trying IndyCar, but I can assure you he’s very serious about coming over here. Will it be 2019 or 2020? Not sure. Had a long talk with Michael Andretti last weekend and he’s prepared to run six cars and says Fernando wants to run the full season (not cherry-pick events) if he comes over, but nobody is sure what he wants to do between F1, IndyCar and WEC. And I don’t think money will have any bearing on Alonso’s decision – he’s a racer who wants to be competitive. I understand there is a bidding war between McLaren/Andretti and Ganassi for Scott Dixon, so that’s where the money comes into play. But Dixie may simply sign a one-year deal with Chip and see if this McLaren team comes alive in 2020. Like he told me: “I’ve got a couple of good options.” As he should.
Q: I’ll try to be constructive, but have to admit to being a bit frustrated. Had two great days at the track on Friday/Saturday, but headed home due to the late start on Sunday. Also had a big bonus when I found out my son got in free. When I went to turn on the race on Sunday, it wasn’t on NBCSN. No big deal, I have CNBC, but why not start at noon before NASCAR and air it on NBCSN? I at least understand when they’re trying to get their own racing time slot, but to go head-to-head with NASCAR and to start late is extremely disappointing.
RM: I asked co-promoter Kevin Savoree about an earlier starting time (noon) and he said he preferred the later starts at Mid-Ohio and Toronto, so I assume that’s based on feedback from the paying customers. Saw quite a few Indiana license plates leaving Mid-Ohio, so I guess everyone was back by 10 p.m. The starting time is usually a collaboration of television, promoter and schedule.
Q: I know I am preaching to the choir to you, but as I am looking at RACER.com’s Racing on TV column, I saw the Mid-Ohio IndyCar race started at 3:30 EDT and will be on CNBC. No big deal being on CNBC to me, I watch it all the time anyway, but the reason it’s over there is because the NASCAR race starts at 2:30 EDT on NBCSN. Has no one learned the lesson from George Bruggenthies and Road America? Why don’t they start the Mid-Ohio race at noon, eastern? They would be done and off the air by the time NASCAR started, which would probably help both race’s ratings.
RM: As I said in the answer above your question, the promoters favor a later starting time after a morning and early afternoon of the step-ladder series. I think if I were a promoter I would always want 1 p.m. to give people a chance to get home at a decent hour because they work on Monday. But starting times are usually a compromise between the track and television.