Q: With Ganassi’s second seat open and the potential for one or two McLaren seats being available – in addition to a potential Scuderia Corsa seat, third Rahal seat, etc – do you see Juan Pablo Montoya or Helio Castroneves being in the mix? Assuming they can get out of their Penske contracts, if I was McLaren, I would grabbing JPM or Helio to partner with Alonso.
Justin, Louisville, KY
RM: No, they’re contract players for the best team in North American history, and paid well. JPM hated McLaren (or was it Ron Dennis?) anyway, and Helio is happy to get to run Indy again. And Chip’s No.10 car is going to go to Sweden’s Felix Rosenvquist.
Q: In the last Mailbag, you referenced Chip Ganassi’s disinterest in American talent. What gives? We’re in a new era of drivers where guys like Newgarden, Rossi, RHR, and Rahal are in the mix on a regular basis and kicking ass. We have the deepest talent of American drivers in the series in over a decade. I’ve been a fan since I was unloaded in the Midwest out of a Chevrolet Celebrity Eurosport (with a single left-sided mirror mind you, because Euro-chic), into a stroller and out onto Turn 5 at Road America at the age of eight months. Instead of wheeling and dealing, maybe it’s time for Chip to take some risks similar to Wickens, Chaves, or Newgarden – maybe Colin Braun or Ricky Taylor would pay some dividends? I’m just tired of hearing the Ganassi argument that home-grown talent doesn’t exist. It’s a statement that no longer true rings true, and hinges on ignorant.
RM: Good question. Chip had Bryan Herta and Jimmy Vasser when his Target team took off in the mid-90s, and JV won his first championship. But Zanardi and Montoya spoiled him, and other than Memo Gidley, who did a fine job but didn’t get hired because they said he was a poor qualifier, Chip hasn’t given any Yankee a real shot. (He took Charlie Kimball’s money, so it’s not like the No.9/10 cars, gave Graham Rahal a C-team ride, and Sage Karam only got one year). Obviously, Dario, Wheldon and Dixie helped cement his theory that foreign drivers rule, and it would be cool to see him hire a young American someday. But it won’t be soon because Felix Rosenvquist is slated for the No.10 car in 2019.
Q: What can be done to make the championship battle each year more interesting? How can we guarantee that no-one can build up a big lead in the early or middle part of the season and just cruise to the end? I know IndyCar fans don’t care for NASCAR’s playoff system, and to be honest, it’s a little too much. Also, I recognize that the idea of having a “winner-take-all” race to decide the title in the season finale (which I have suggested before) is also pretty gimmicky, and IndyCar fans already aren’t too keen on the current system of paying out double-points at Indianapolis and Sonoma. However, I’ve recently come across another points system that caught my attention.
I’m a huge fan of the racing video game series Forza Motorsport. After having played the most recent title in the series a good bit (Forza Motorsport 7, which includes Indy cars, by the way), I’ve noticed that the game uses what I’ve come to call the “Progressive Points System” (I’m not sure if it has an actual name). Basically, each successive race in a championship is worth more points than the previous race. For example, as the season goes along, the points payout for each race may increase by a certain amount, let’s say 10 percent (just pulling out a number here). The net effect of this system is that it’s difficult to build an insurmountable lead in the championship in the early or middle part of the season. The points payout for the final few races is so much larger than the earlier races that you’re almost always guaranteed that the title won’t be decided until the very end. However, the earlier races aren’t entirely negligible, as the points earned then could give a contender a decisive edge when it matters most.
Is increasing the point payout for each race still gimmicky? Maybe a little, but I think it’s decidedly less gimmicky than a playoff system, winner-take-all race, or awarding double points at select event. Plus, it ensures an exciting championship battle each year. For that, I think it’s a small price to pay. What do you think?
Garrick, Mobile, AL
RM: IndyCar doesn’t need double points or any gimmicks to make its championship close. It’s come down to the wire almost every year in the past decade (before those stupid double-points) so just go back to the old system.