Q: Tony Kanaan is getting on, with his best years likely behind him. But he is still good on ovals and always strong at Indy. Is tying himself to Foyt a good move, or has he used up his options elsewhere? It seems a shame to end his career with a whimper.
Anthony Jenkins, Canada
RM: I think TK would admit there wasn’t a bidding war for his services at age 42, so being hired to drive for A.J. was his best option. And last May he was as fast as Will or Ed in the race, and that’s all Super Tex cares about anyway. At 44, this is likely Tony’s swansong but he’ll be stout at Indianapolis. He’s had a great run for a kid sleeping on a garage floor when he was 15, and everyone slows down.
Q: I got back from the Rolex 24 at Daytona and was wondering if McLaren might be utilizing Wayne Taylor Racing’s facilitates in Brownsburg as their base for Indy? There seem to be some natural tie-ins, not the least of which is Fred Alonso. Also wondering if you have reached out to Mr. Alonso about making a trip to the Mug n Bun, Charlie Brown’s or the Workingman’s Friend?
RM: Not sure where McLaren will land, but Brownsburg is logical. I wanted to take Fred to the Workingman in 2017 with an NBC camera for our Carb Day Show, but couldn’t pull it off. Now that NBC covers everything in May, I’m going to give it another shot. How about A.J. and Fernando eating biscuits and gravy at Charlie Brown’s for breakfast and then a double cheeseburger for lunch at the Friend?
Q: I just bought eight tickets to COTA to take some of my managers to the race. I bought GA tickets. I know the course somewhat from TV, but have never been there. Any advice on how to get the best view of Turn 1? BTW- no paddock passes available… what’s up with that?
RM: I know Jay Frye is working with COTA to make paddock passes available to anyone that wants one, but I’ve never been there so allow Marshall Pruett to be your tour guide:
“Hi Justin. It’s just a case of walking up the hill to Turn 1! There are grandstand seats for those who want to be as high as possible, and for the rest, standing on the hillside grass, laying out a blanket, or bringing a camping chair to view is the answer. The cool thing about COTA is it has a walking path that allows you to go up the hill to Turn 1 and keep going for a lap of the sprawling circuit. For anyone on the GA plan, I’d definitely recommend the walking/chair routine so you can see plenty of vantage points.”
Q: So I live in Austin and have been waiting for years for IndyCar to make it to Austin (No thanks to Gossage). This would be my fifth IndyCar race (canceled Texas, three Houston races) I have tickets and paddock passes for all three days. I was initially told they were out of paddock passes, but I called back a week later and they had some. They claim they were returned to them. Either way, I am thrilled. Because I bought all these tickets (for myself and my two sons) we are getting free admission to Spring Training and the Paddock on Feb. 12. Weather is forecast to be cloudy with a 20% chance of rain 65 high / 54 low. The 13th looks the same. What should I do and what can I expect during Spring Training? Will they run in the rain or on a wet track? Also, with three days of admission, aside from attending on Sunday, which is better: Friday or Saturday?
Darth in Austin
RM: Oh yeah, they’ll run in the rain, and I believe Firestone has a new rain tire. I would go on Saturday to see qualifying, because the Fast 6 shootout is always pretty entertaining, as is knockout qualifying in general.
Q: I just read the piece on Laguna’s upgrades for IndyCar. If they can do it over time, what would it take for Road Atlanta to do so? I am like many others who would love to see a race here – it’s close enough I can make an easy day of it (Barber is possible, but a bit harder because of time changes).
Paul Lewis, Macon, GA
RM: I don’t know, but the only incentive would be if RA hosted an IndyCar race and right now I don’t see any interest from either side.
Q: Robin, what’s your estimated best lap time by IndyCar at COTA? (Best lap at COTA last year was Hamilton’s 1m32.392s). Do you think it bothers casual fans that IndyCar is slower than F1? What was it like when Champ Car ran Montreal? F1 is faster than IndyCar, and I don’t mind it at all. I love IndyCar because competition is very close, and no-one knows who the winner will be until the checkered flag. I F1 races off once I see who passes Turn 1 first.
Noz, #1 Mailbag fan in Japan
RM: In 2006, Fernando Alonso won the F1 pole at 1m14.9s while Sebastian Bourdais ran 1m20.0s to take the pole for Champ Car, so I would imagine the difference at COTA would be in that five-six second range. The fans didn’t seem to care in Canada, grandstands were packed for Champ Car, and I think people will come to COTA for competition.
Q: I just watched Truth or Ego Pt 2 with Team Penske. Alexander Rossi looks incredibly focused while everyone else seems to be having fun. He seems to take umbrage to Simon Pagenaud when the question of OCD is mentioned. Is he generally accepted in the paddock? He seems to still be in the F1 mindset. He is appears to be auditioning hard for a Penske seat.
Randy, Pittsburgh, PA
RM: Alex is a pretty serious study, but he’s got a good sense of humor and I just think it takes a while for him to warm up to people, and vice versa. He came to our annual outing at the Indiana State Fair last year and had a good time, and I think he’s made a lot of friends the past year. He doesn’t have to audition for Team Penske – The Captain has been eying him for a couple years.