…and now, onto the questions that aren’t about Canadian TV.
Q: I was watching the qualifying stream at the office on Saturday, and just hearing the cars on my headset was a great feeling after another grueling Chicago winter. I am looking forward to a great season on the track and in the broadcast booth. The most exciting takeaway from Sunday has to be Felix Rosenqvist. I felt like I was watching Robbie’s debut last season with how he managed his weekend. Is there something about St Pete that lends to a strong start for rookies, or is he really that good? Will the second Ganassi car turn from a field-filler to a championship contender?
Desmond, Oak Lawn, IL
RM: Marshall said Felix is the “Swedish Robert Wickens” because they had a similar path to IndyCar, tons of experience in different cars, and both of their debuts were dazzling. St. Pete does seem to favor rookies, but Rosenvquist is a badass and I think he’ll be a title contender as long as he’s here.
Q: IndyCar is unpredictable. Anyone could win any race! Felix was fast, just like you said he would be. Penske and Ganassi traded blows, just like they always do. Andretti was fast just like they always are. Hunter-Reay got hit with a cartoon anvil just because that’s what happens to him. It is unlikely anyone who finished in the top seven finishes outside of the top eight in the championship. And yet that was still an awesome race wasn’t it?
Ryan in West Michigan
RM: As street races go, it had a great pass for the lead and plenty of hard racing throughout the pack, and was as good if not better than a whole bunch of old street shows in CART’s heyday when Mario or Michael or Al Jr. would destroy everyone. And while I love the uncertainty of IndyCar’s results, I think realistically that 12 drivers (half the full-time field) have a shot at winning.
Q: Fantastic race! The passing was spectacular! The coverage was great too; I especially liked the post-race interviews. In the past we were lucky to get the winner’s interview, much less other drivers. I don’t recall the competition ever being this intense. Kudos to race control for not yellow flagging the race for the banner that was on the outside of one of the turns. The racing was great on its own; we didn’t need a debris flag to close up the field. The Gold Pass was great, I got a lot of other content when I wasn’t by my TV. I highly recommend it to my fellow Mailbaggers. Qualifying: they should guarantee everyone gets at least one flying lap in qualifying — unless someone isn’t ready to qualify, then that’s their problem. Agree?
Wally, Eden Prairie, MN
RM: Definitely. There should not have been a red flag for Marco, he was already in the pits so push him to his stall and then everyone gets a shot. It was a terrible show for the fans and television, and people come to see great competition, not some rulebook exercise. I agree I thought Kyle Novak made a good no-call on that banner, and I think he and Jay Frye will take a long look at modifying some of the qualifying rules.
Q: I am disappointed by the lack of driver head protection and feel more urgency is necessary to get it right. After seeing the terrible crash in Macau, I know FIA mandated all series adopt the halo. The metal vertical blade IndyCar showed seems woefully inadequate. Why isn’t the shield ready or a safer alternative? They have had lots of time to get that perfected. Can you explain more of the aero changes coming for the fast tracks like Indy? Will these get the cars to stick and not swap ends?
Finally, what is the Speedway doing to celebrate Mario Andretti’s 50th anniversary of his 500 victory? Heard they will have a museum display, and he ought to be Grand Marshal and drive the pace car, too. Get your book going please. When is that history of IndyCar complete book going to come out also?
Craig Bailey, Palm Bay, FL
RM: Be patient. Ovals present a totally different set of challenges, and IndyCar is working on something that may debut in the next few months. You can’t make a race car not swap ends; at least not to my limited knowledge of physics. The IMS Museum has a cool tribute to Mario and he should be driving the pace car, but not sure he will because of the two-seater.
Q: The pre-race NBC coverage was very good. I hope they keep it up. Wickens: “My goal, more than even getting back to racing, is to be able to walk down the aisle of my wedding.” I gotta admit, that made be a bit misty.
Chad R. Larson, Phoenix
RM: Robert inspired a lot of people over the weekend, and like I’ve been saying, don’t bet against him walking or driving again.