Q: Now that the championship is officially over (congrats to Dixon!) we can now find out how silly season will shape up over the break. Everyone including yourself has stated that Felix Rosenqvist is a done deal at Ganassi. My question is, why? Now let me expand here. This is not a knock on CGR, Indy ar, Formula E, or anyone, but I wonder why Felix would want to trade his seat in Formula E which is funded by the largest farming tractor company in the world (and which also makes cars in India) in a series that appears to have some global appeal, is growing, and has the eye of the top European car manufacturers? Was his contract not going to get renewed by Mahindra? Is he not a fan of the electric power? Did Chip offer a deal too good to pass up? Is IndyCar something he has always wanted to do?
RM: I don’t know about everyone, but I wrote back at Pocono that he was headed to Ganassi although it sounds like there might be a couple complications so nothing is set in stone just yet. But after his two tests for Ganassi they were wowed by his talent and feedback. He’s won at everything he’s tried in open-wheel and desires competing at a higher level, which IndyCar clearly is right now. I understand Felix is making $1 million so Chip probably won’t pay him that, but Formula E is like the scrap heap for guys who didn’t make it in F1 and I think Rosenvquist wants to test his talents against better and more diverse competition with an engine ringing in his ears.
Q: At Sonoma practice this past weekend, Chip Ganassi was asked about who might fill his second seat next year. Given he made no mention at all of Ed Jones, it seems a done deal that he’s firing Ed, unfortunately. Ed had an off-season comparable to Pagenaud’s, but Penske still re-signed Simon. Is there any place for Ed to go next year? Has any team expressed an interest in him for 2019?
Chris Pericak, Charlottesville, VA
RM: Chip is not a patient person, so after Jones’ crash at Phoenix and a few struggles the writing was on the wall. But Ed is a good shoe and drove his butt off for Dale Coyne in 2017, so I imagine that might be a place he lands if he can find a couple million. But there aren’t many seats open.
Q: I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on if Robbie would have ended up in a top tier ride next season had he not had the accident? (I’m not sure how deep his ties to Honda are either)
P.S. Portland was great this year, can’t wait for next year!
Mike Austin, Vancouver, B.C. via Toronto
RM: Sam Schmidt said last spring he had a five-year deal with Robbie, so that’s where he’s staying when and if he can get back in an IndyCar. And Honda is a big fan.
Q: In a piece last week ‘Herta, Keeping it Real…’ your colleague Marshall Pruett used the term “Hertamania 2.0”. Did I miss something? I recall Bryan Herta as a particularly bland character and journeyman racer, and fans of the day (myself included) keeping any ‘mania’ well under control. Is Colton Herta a much different personality and racer than his Dad, and can we expect something special from him?
A Jenkins. Canada
RM: Bryan was Lights champion and a damn good racer that won in CART and IRL, but might be forever remembered for being passed by Zanardi at Laguna in the Corkscrew. But Ganassi gassed him but he found a home with Bobby Rahal (that’s where David Letterman introduced Hertamania) and was a superb road racer. And he’s got a marvelous sense of humor (check out our Tony Kanaan’s 300th start video on RACER.com). Colton is special but he’s a quiet, 18-year-old right now, so give him time to grow into his role.
Q: With all this new interest in IndyCar are we going to see races other then Indy where we have bumping? I’m seeing some stories that Shank wants to have a two-car team by 2020. What do you think is a conservative guess on car count for this coming year and maybe 2020? This really is a great problem for a series to have.
Rick from PA
RM: Townsend Bell and I were talking last weekend about the pros and cons of bumping people. He likes the fact it’s a tough series that takes on added credibility if only the fastest 24 cars make the grid, but I worry about sponsors and sending people home. Obviously, it didn’t affect SPM, Hinch and Arrow, but you hate to press your luck. I think 24-25 full-timers is a reality for next season.
Q: A great 2018 is officially in the books and I am looking forward to what 2019 has in store with the rumors of new teams, drivers and a few new tracks. Is there any word on the title sponsor search? Hopefully IndyCar is looking globally, with rumors of international races ahead. Just like Fed-Ex did for CART. Also, are we expecting an active “silly season” or a “silly silly season”?
Eric, Hayward, CA
RM: No word yet, Mark Miles is in Europe working on the international TV deal as we write but his next goal is securing a title sponsor (and he says he’s got a couple candidates). Silly Season is pretty much two seats right now: one at Ganassi (I think it’s going to be Felix Rosenvquist) and SPM to be Hinch’s running mate until Wickens’ situation comes to light. We all hope Robert is back, but 2019 might be a real long shot.