Q: I guess it’s safe to say Conor Daly wasn’t the problem at Foyt.
Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA
RM: T.K. was stout at Indy and Texas, where we all expected he would be, and he’ll be good at Pocono and Gateway too. Young Leist is quick but is still learning the ropes and tracks, as expected of a teenaged rookie. A.J.’s team is about where we figured, but Conor has done more for his career in the last two races than he has in the last two years, and the Harding boys are very impressed. The kid can set up a car and he can race.
Q: Robin, can you pull the curtain back on what goes into scheduling on-track activities for a race weekend? I’ve been going to Mid-Ohio for years and this is the first time that I ever remember IndyCar not being out for a morning warm-up session on Sunday. Is there any particular reason for this, and how does it affect someone like Hinch who damaged his car the last time he was on track before the race?
Kyle, Columbus, OH
RM: IndyCar decided to scrap morning warm-up for road courses this year because with all the Mazda Road to Indy classes competing, the warm-up would be at 8 a.m. But Jay Frye understands a lot of campers at Road America and Mid-Ohio dearly love morning warm-up, so he said IndyCar will revisit this topic for 2019. I would think Road America and Mid-Ohio are the only two venues that love and deserve morning warm-up because much of the crowd is already there.
Q: Is it just me or have we had a lot fewer cautions this year? The last two road courses have run caution-free, Toronto wasn’t a crash-fest for once, and Iowa only had two minor incidents. People keep talking about how the new cars are harder to drive with the lower downforce, but outside of Indy we’ve had a lot fewer crashes than we did with the higher-downforce cars. I’m not complaining, but what gives?
RM: As I wrote on Monday, the drivers deserve a lot of credit because they’re racing hard but not piling into each other and making silly mistakes. It’s their finest season in many moons.
Q: In years past, IndyCar has held open testing at Pocono leading up to the race there. I’ve always wanted to attend, but would learn about the session too late to get off from work. I tried to contact IndyCar last year, but didn’t hear back. So, on to our only reliable source of info – you! Do you know of any open-to-public testing at Pocono leading up to race weekend there this year? Also re: Pocono: for about the last three years, the track has held a rather aggressive TV and billboard ad campaign in the Harrisburg, PA market for their NAPCAR and IndyCar races. This year there’s been nothing. Not sure if any affect has been seen with NAPCAR sales, but will be interesting to see whether IndyCar sales are in any way affected. By the way, $45 for admission and a paddock pass on Saturday at Pocono has to be the best value in racing. From watching on-track action to watching the mechanics thrashing in response to the pressures of the one day practice/qualifying schedule, I have never been more entertained at an IndyCar weekend. (Been going to Indy since ’73). In no way do we notice the lack of a support series, there’s so much to take in.
And the driver access on Saturday is great. Many great interactions we had with several drivers, but I was very impressed with Ryan Hunter-Reay. At one point he was in his garage, deep in conversation with his team. He looked up, noticed that a sizeable group of fans had gathered and were watching him. He immediately stopped what he was doing and made a bee-line out of his garage to spend time with his fans. Real cool. To the fans: if you want to experience a day loaded with IndyCar competition, action, sights, sounds and smells, spend a handful of bucks and check out Pocono (at least) on Saturday. It’s a full and entertaining day where you can be fully immersed in race weekend.
Alan, Harrisburg, PA
RM: I contacted Pocono but didn’t hear back before this went to press, so maybe try reaching out to the track directly.
Q: With IndyCar losing Verizon as the title sponsor, will the IndyCar app open all features to all fans no matter what network they are on? Currently you have to be on Verizon to get some features, especially during the race. Also, is Penske also losing Verizon as a sponsor?
RM: Two words on the apps from IndyCar marketing director C.J. O’Donnell: “Hell yes.” As for Verizon staying with The Captain, not sure but I would imagine if it stays in racing it would be with Team Penske.
Q: I just wanted to send you a quick note about Toronto. I noticed the note from a reader last week about the erroneous rumor that the race would be moved to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, formerly known as Mosport, next year. As we know Green-Savoree will be promoting the race at Exhibition Place through 2020, and Honda and Fan Friday tradition will be back too. The confusion lies with the 2015 race having been bumped up to June due to a conflict with Exhibition Place and the venue needing to be used by the Pan-Am Games in the usual July time frame that year.
Furthermore, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park wouldn’t step on Green-Savoree’s toes either. Two races – and this is my opinion– in the same market with all the same series competing wouldn’t work. I think the reason the race works well at Exhibition Place is that all levels of transit in Toronto and Greater Toronto area connect to Union Station, and streetcar and Go Train have routes directly into Exhibition Place. You can’t say that of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. If you don’t have a car, you’re out of luck because there is no transit option or tours that I know of that go to the track.
Finally, when it comes to attendance figures, you and I were both there and saw that it was a capacity crowd. The Toronto Star’s Norris McDonald wrote an excellent column that lambasted a critical Associated Press/Canadian Press article about attendance figures for Toronto. He pointed out that attendance figures for just about any event are routinely inflated, and that the race this year had a Molson Indy crowd.
Geoff Roberts, Unionville, Canada
RM: Mosport is a cool place, but not made for IndyCars at this time, so it really was never a serious consideration. The attendance at Toronto last month was definitely up from the past few years, but nothing close to those Molson Indy days when there were massive grandstands on both sides of the main straightaway – packed.