Q: How close are we to cockpit protection in IndyCar? I’m asking because it sounds like a piece of debris hit Hinchcliff in the hands. What’s the feedback from Pocono on the aero kits? It wasn’t 95 degrees, and with cloud cover the track wasn’t extremely hot. I know the teams had almost zero practice time, but it seemed like cars often stalled when they got close to the car ahead of them. IndyCar threw a small change at the teams from Indy to Pocono. Is it time to take a bigger swing so drivers that aren’t named Alexander Rossi can pass other cars? Finally, you give IndyCar mid-season report cards. How about a grade on the last three races for Conor Daly? I’d have to give him a B+ myself. Not because of their speed at Pocono, but because the race ended early. Teams that unloaded in the window had a solid weekend. Teams that didn’t, well just look at Carlin, Rahal, and Harding.
Ryan in West Michigan
RM: It’s a work in progress, and will be tested again after the season. The drivers I interviewed were all in agreement that something needs to be done on the superspeedways for 2019, and I’m sure IndyCar will do what’s necessary. Conor did a fine job with Harding (especially at Pocono when he got four practice laps because the steering rack came loose), and they gave him high marks all the way around. Don’t forget, he’s using 2010 shocks, just like Gabby Chaves did all year, and they have no resources.
Q: Interested to hear your take on Michael’s comments following the Wickens-RHR accident. Fair statement, or too soon?
RM: Considering all the criticism he’s getting, I think he might be wishing he’d have said something like: “I wish Robert would have backed off but that’s inconsequential now because we’re just hoping he’s alright.”
Q: After attending both this year’s Indy 500 and yesterday’s Pocono 500, I have two questions. Where are last year’s aero kits? Can we put them back on the cars? I feel that last year’s Pocono race was the reason for a good crowd at yesterday’s race, and this year’s race is the reason that there won’t be next year. Awful Indy 500. Awful Pocono 500
Wayne DiBernard, Stanhope, NJ
RM: Indy wasn’t up to its usual standards, but I’ll grant you last Sunday was painful to watch (four cars on the lead lap) and the drivers simply want more downforce put back in for superspeedways. But the new aero kits race great on road courses, street circuits and, so far, short ovals like Iowa. Hopefully that will be the case Saturday night at Gateway. And, no, they can’t put last year’s kits on the cars.
Q: I am writing this as the Pocono race is ending. It is great that there was passing but not for the lead, which non-racers will not notice. Should we add stages like NASCAR to tighten up the field?
James, Columbus, OH
RM: Rossi passed Power for the lead and that decided the race, but there was not much elsewhere. No stages, it’s cars that are needed. If you’re going to run 500 miles you’ve got to have 33 cars. If not, make it a 300-miler.
Q: Looked on TV like the biggest Pocono crowd since IndyCar’s return. Hopefully they all come back next year with a friend, and IndyCar comes with a better package. Didn’t Will and Scott test different front wing end plates at their Indy test? If so, they are certainly needed!
Matt Converset, Decatur, IN
RM: The Pocono officials said it was likely the best in six years, but didn’t have the official numbers as of Monday morning when I called. There are a lot of IndyCar fans in Pennsylvania and they stayed throughout the delay, and that was impressive. Will and Scott tested a lot of things for 2019 and between aero tweaks, tires and feedback, I think IndyCar will figure things out.
Q: I’m sure we are going to read all the comments from the armchair drivers as to who may or may not be at fault. In your opinion, was Graham at fault at the start? Seems he could/should have checked up as the others. The more severe second crash: racing incident in your opinion? I am also in agreement with PT in that either IndyCar or some of these tracks needs to take some serious looks at the fencing around the circuits. What do you think should be done in those cases? Yes, it would be a large outlay of cash, but is it time to look at this, or is the current fencing adequate?
RM: Graham plowed into Pigot so can’t blame anyone else, and I think Robert just pushed up a little bit into RHR to trigger the accident but, yes, it was a racing incident. Who is going to pay for new fencing? IndyCar? No. The tracks? Not likely. Yes, a lot of the fencing is outdated for today’s cars, but it’s not an easy solution.
Q: With talks of Alonso coming to Indy and where he might be driving heating up, I was wondering about the Harding and Andretti scenario. If Harding Racing becomes Harding-Andretti-McLaren-Chevy, or whatever it will be called, for 2019, do you think Andretti will have put themselves in an unethical position? Having access to both engines in the series would surely give them some sort of advantage in knowing who their opponent is and what they have. I don’t think there’s anything saying they cannot have access to more than one engine make in the rules, otherwise I am sure it would have been mentioned by now. I do not currently have an opinion as to whether this is okay or not, but does this seem like something other teams could find issue with?
RM: I can promise you teams on both sides will be up in arms if Andretti is allowed to run both engines. It’s complicated, because if the team is branded McLaren, it won’t be allowed to run a Honda. If it was simply Andretti, yes, Honda has no problem with Fred. And Chevy is more than happy to run him, so maybe Ed Carpenter’s team gets the nod if the Harding deal doesn’t happen. BTW, Zak Brown has talked to Ed. Obviously, the best thing for the series is to have Fernando full-time, so whatever it takes to make that happen must be done, but I understand the pushback from the paddock about letting one team run two engines. The bottom line is that IndyCar has to step in and make this happen somehow, and I think Mark Miles gets it.