Q: Well, another great IndyCar season in the books. I hate that we have to wait six whole months to get another dose, but I think next year will be even better. Rossi has proven this year to be a world-class talent. He’s also proven to me that he’s a dirty little ****. I think he’ll get what’s coming to him one of these days, and I’ll be cheering for it.
I know a lot of people agree with me, and a lot of others don’t. I think that’s a great thing. It’s good that IndyCar has a villain again. It’s good that we’ve got somebody to argue about. I’ve gotten into several discussions about him over the last couple months. I can’t remember the last time a driver in IndyCar has been the subject of that much debate. So, while I’ll be cheering against him, I’m glad Rossi is in IndyCar. He’s good for the sport.
Dylan Burgett, Villa Park, IL
RM: Rossi has certainly been polarizing with fans, but as you stated, that’s a good thing, and watching him rise up the ranks has been entertaining and impressive. He’s got some cut-throat in him, but that serves a race driver well, and he’s going to be winning races and championships for the next 10 years. I’m just glad Bryan Herta and Michael Andretti rescued him from F1 purgatory.
Q: After watching the Sonoma finale, I came away impressed with how enjoyable the race (and the season as a whole) was to watch, especially given how boring some of the past Sonoma races have been. Here are a couple takeaways I had. First of all, what was going on with the NASCAR Las Vegas race overlapping the IndyCar coverage? I know Sonoma was scheduled to start after the NASCAR race had finished and the NASCAR race ran long, but even if it had finished on time there would have been almost no time for interviews after Las Vegas and before Sonoma. I normally think NBC does a great job with its coverage of both series, but this seems like a very simple error in scheduling that could have been avoided. Second, Pato O’Ward really impressed in his debut by finishing 9th. I’m sure Harding would want to keep him full-time next year, but have you heard of any other teams interested in him and Colton Herta besides Harding and Andretti?
Alexander S., Cincinnati, OH
RM: The plan was to go from the NASCAR race right to the command to start engines at Sonoma, but it’s not NBCSN’s fault the “greatest drivers in the world,” kept crashing into each other, and the red flag in Vegas really killed the overall plan. O’Ward’s performance was nothing short of dazzling and I imagine quite a few teams suddenly took notice of this teenager, but his immediate future is looking bright.
Q: That O’Ward kid raced well. Any chance we can throw him in a team with Alonso (I’m being presumptuous) and shake up the status quo a little? Do you think IndyCar should start working on a Mexican race to fill one of those three-week gaps that are in the season? I think this kid is here to stay. I also think it might have been smart to chase a European race while F1 is on their summer break – Especially a race in Spain if they manage to get Alonso. Of course I would love to see them back in Australia as a priority.
John, Newcastle, Australia
RM: Pato’s plans will be revealed today, but he’s been getting great coverage from the Mexican media, and if Carlos Slim takes a liking to this kid (how could you not?), then I think Mexico City becomes a reality. I know Mark Miles was talking to them a year ago but IndyCar didn’t have anything like O’Ward to promote back then. And he’s got it all – talent, balls, bravado and personality.
Q: Can you go into any detail as to what’s going on with Harding? They were all in to start the year, but still don’t have any sponsors in the car. Why don’t they have updated dampers? Is it cost? Do Juncos and Shank have updated dampers? Also, I’ve sat in Turn 2 at Indy for 18 years. Since they tore down the rotating scoreboard to update the road course we’ve been frustrated with knowing what lap it is at the Speedway. Can you pass that on? I’d love to see a mini scoring tower in Turn 2 like the one they built at Mid-Ohio.
Loren, Newark, OH
RM: As Marshall wrote last weekend, Harding became the Junior Andretti team last weekend at Sonoma – complete with engineers, mechanics, shocks and technical support from Michael’s team. There will be a significant announcement regarding Pato and Colton today so read RACER.com. I sent your request to IMS.
Q: The three drivers I enjoyed watching the most this past season were Alexander Rossi, Sebastien Bourdais, and Robert Wickens. With your extensive knowledge of former drivers, do the racing styles and personalities of each of these drivers remind you of any former drivers? Also, do you think the best years are now behind Bourdais?
James Jackson, Livonia, MI
RM: During one of our live practice shows last weekend, Leigh Diffey asked Michael Andretti if Rossi reminded him of himself, and that’s actually a good comparison because they both want to get out front and lead every lap, and both are super-aggressive. Wickens bears some resemblance to Al Unser Jr. in that he gets whatever the car is capable of on that particular day, and Bourdais is kinda like Big Al – a smart, savvy guy that pushes at the right time. I think Seabass at 30 was probably faster than the soon-to-be 40 ,but he’s still plenty capable of winning.