Q: As a fellow old-school fan with a picture of Harlan Fengler on the den wall, I have to ask what’s up with Tony Kanaan and car 14? I hope every race day for a competitive finish from the Foyt team. I was so excited for T.K. last year at Indy until the tire failure. Are the years catching up with T.K. as they do for all of us?
Ron Carbaugh, Eaton, Ohio
RM: After talking to T.K. and Conor Daly, it’s apparent A.J.’s team is way behind in the shock/damper area and that’s the most crucial element of today’s IndyCars. I think Scott Harner was brought in to help update this program but it’s not going to happen overnight. Like TK said at COTA, “I’m not Scott Dixon, but I’m also not three seconds slower than he is.” The good thing is that Eric Cowdin and T.K. were dialed in last May and should be a factor again next month, and that’s all A.J. and ABC really care about.
Q: Loved the COTA race! Great track and event, I am now a huge Colton Herta fan. I hope people don’t discredit the win because of the yellow situation, he definitely earned that win – he did great all day, did great on the restart, and Newgarden couldn’t touch him in the last 10 laps. You always ignore my question about Tony Kanaan, but can you help me understand his longevity in the sport? I know he brings money, but so does Charlie Kimball, etc.
RM: Besides being a former champ, Indy winner and the most popular driver in IndyCar, T.K. is beloved by sponsors and still fast at Indianapolis, so that might explain why he’s still got a ride. And he doesn’t have it because he brings money. He’s obviously not a factor in road racing right now, but still a contender at Indy and the ovals, and that’s all A.J. is concerned with, and he wants T.K. to try and help elevate this team if possible.
Q: First time/longtime and glad you are well. Saw you at the paddock at COTA along with an endless amount of owners, drivers, crew from IndyCar. I bet you could beat P.T. in the 40. Been to about 15 races in my life, mostly PIR (RIP), Indy 500, Long Beach, Fontana, and man was COTA awesome and worth the trip. We had Main Grandstand passes and ditched them after qualifying when we found the grass in Turn 1. What a view! Live bands, Happy Hour at 5 p.m. on Saturday night, Stadium Super Trucks, etc. etc. etc. Any track that is struggling should take some notes. COTA is the real deal!
RM: Thanks Todd, interesting you left the grandstands for the grass but I saw a lot of folks in that area. P.T. is a sprinter so I doubt I could beat him.
Q: I really enjoyed the race from Austin. IndyCar put on a good show. Do you think COTA made money on the event? The crowd looked decent and the sanction fee had to be a pittance compared to what F1 gets.
RM: I would have to know what kind of sanction fee IndyCar charged, but I assume it was reasonable since this was their first venture together. If there were 30,000 paying customers than I would imagine it could have turned a profit. I know they could have made more money had they not limited their paddock passes.
Q: My dad and I had a pretty good time at the COTA race weekend. I bought grandstand tickets through a presale and paddock passes, which for the price I assumed were also pit passes. Ends up the paddock passes only got you into the IndyCar paddock (everything else including Lights and Stadium Trucks was otherwise accessible without it), and pit pass wristbands were not included. I was a bit upset but got to meet and interact with a few drivers and others – got a selfie with Graham and P.T., so not complaining. Next year I think they need to work on their pit and paddock pass allotments. Otherwise it was a fantastic weekend, at a party Saturday night we got to meet Mario and Colton Herta and get their autographs, which ended up being a big deal after all. I hope IndyCar and COTA make this work, there was a big GA attendance but don’t know what the final numbers ended up being.
Brian M, Katy, TX
RM: I have no idea why they limited paddock pass sales, because that place is enormous and could have had 5,000 people walking around easily. I guess with F1 they never had to deal with paddock passes, but one of IndyCar’s drawing cards is access. I sent your letter to Bobby Epstein so hopefully he’ll respond and I’ll share with you.
Q: Just to point out that ABC doesn’t give one lick for our brand of racing, ESPN had the COTA race listed as the “2019 Grand Prix of Boston.” Spot-on boys. To think, confusing the great capital of Texas with some place I think in New Jersey. Jeez.
Steven and Kris Boydstun, Texas
RM: Now why doesn’t that surprise me?
Q: By my count, there are currently 33 driver/car combinations on the entry list for this year’s Indianapolis 500. What drivers are actively searching for rides for this year’s race? What teams are still possibilities for entering additional cars?
RM: Oriol Servia, J.R. Hildebrand and Jay Howard should be announced soon, and I think we’ll end up with 37 car/driver combinations.