Q: As much as I hate it, it seems that A.J. Almendinger’s stock is turning downward in NASCAR. Do you think any IndyCar teams still see value in the ‘Dinger? I think he would be a great asset to that series!!
Paul, Williamstown, VT.
RM: If Mike Shank would expand I imagine he might consider A.J. since they worked together in sports cars with a lot of success, but don’t think anyone else in IndyCar would be interested. I’ll always wish Dinger would have stayed in open-wheel because he was just becoming a star when he left for NASCAR.
Q: First of all, I would like to thank you for your passion, for reporting and for sharing your deep knowledge about motorsport, and more specifically the IndyCar Series.
I am a Portuguese engineer, currently living and working in Paris, who has a long-term passion for American open-wheel racing that started first with CART, then IRL and mainly Champ Car in the early 2000s, and now with this refreshing and exciting IndyCar Series “re-incarnation”.I can’t say how joyful and excited I have been about IndyCar these past months, with the new aero-kit, the amazing drivers and teams, and the variety of quality circuits that are visited. All this has made me travel back to my teenage years, when I avidly followed the races on Eurosport on Sunday evenings and patiently waited for the new RACER and Champ Car magazines, which arrived in Portugal several weeks after being published.
Moving forward to today, there is a lot of excitement growing on the prospect of more teams and especially Fernando Alonso coming to IndyCar, which would be really wonderful, but my biggest wish for the series is that a “proper” naming sponsor is found in time for the next season, providing not only the funding but also the media exposure and advertising that IndyCar needs and deserves.
Earlier this year, there were some rumors about IndyCar considering a “throwback livery” race for the 2019 season, like NASCAR currently does. Do you have any news on this? It is confirmed that the current engines will be upgraded for the 2020 season in order to reach 900hp, for which I am all in favor. But is there going to be any engine performance upgrade for 2019? Any news on new engine manufacturers? What’s your feeling/opinion on these stories about an eventual Andretti/McLaren/Harding partnership, with Honda and Chevy in the middle? Honestly, I would be very happy to have Fernando and McLaren confirmed, especially if Pato and Colton both graduate to IndyCar, but these stories about teams with different engine suppliers becoming partners doesn’t sound very realistic to me…
Many thanks once again for your professionalism and passion for the sport and may you have a lot of good news to share with us readers in the coming times.
RM: Nothing new on Fernando, throwback paint schemes or a title sponsor – we may not know Alonso’s status until November (that’s what Zak Brown told me a few weeks ago). The Harding/Andretti will come in focus today with a major announcement that you can read this afternoon. Thanks for your note and passion.
Q: After watching the BC39 in Indy, I was wondering – are USAC and WoO sprint car drivers and teams making some money, or they are just on that “If you want to become a millionaire in racing you gotta start as a billionaire?” Sponsors may pay for NASCAR and (some) IndyCar teams and drivers some cash, but I don’t imagine how it is for these two sprint car series guys. I hope they are all doing ok.
GC, from Sao Paulo
RM: I would say very few USAC and WoO teams make money, but it’s possible to make a little or break even with a good sponsor. Kasey Kahne’s team won Knoxville with Brad Sweet and that was a nice payday, ditto for the King’s Royale at Eldora. But WoO has three or four big paydays while USAC finally had one good one for midgets ($17,000 to win) at the BC39. It’s a labor of love for most, and some drivers make a decent wage – especially if they’re lucky enough to get a little retainer in addition to the prize money. Bryan Clauson and I did a story a few years ago about how he would never be rich like a NASCAR driver, but he could earn a decent living in USAC provided he kept winning midget, sprint and dirt car races.
Q: The Month of May Triple Crown: Indy Road Course, Turn 3 Midget event, Indy 500. We need to get these Indy drivers into midgets and let them race during the month of May. Tell me you haven’t already thought of this, you evil genius, you.
RM: My idea was to get six or seven IndyCar drivers to hot lap midgets on Wednesday of the BC39 and have Sarah Fisher be their driver coach and we’d shoot it for NBCSN, NASCAR America, RACER and IndyCar’s website. Rossi, RHR, Marco, Gabby, Conor, TK and Zach were all on board and Tim Clauson was going to be kind enough to provide us three midgets, but we couldn’t pull it together.