Q: There’s been a lot of speculation about where Alexander Rossi may be driving in 2020 and about his career in IndyCar long term. He is Penske perfect. I was wondering if Roger wanted to sign him, what if any obstacles exist in departing Andretti considering he’s a Honda driver and Penske runs Chevys? I’m not sure who writes Rossi’s paycheck — Honda or the team? Hypothetically, do you see any scenario where Chip Ganassi gets tired of Felix Rosenqvist crashing and not performing well in the number No. 10 to want Rossi in that seat?
Geoff Roberts, Unionville, Canada
RM: We all thought Rossi could be destined for Penske’s third seat until Pagenaud returned to form in May, and The Captain isn’t going to run four cars (except at Indy) so that scenario is gone. I imagine Chip could be interested, but why would Alexander want to leave Andretti? It’s now his team and Honda loves him, so I imagine between Michael, Honda and NAPA, they will do everything possible to keep him at Andretti Autosport.
Q: For quite some time, I’ve wondered why IndyCar allows tire changers to get out on pit lane and kneel down prior to their car’s arrival in the pit box. This seems dangerous as hell to me, and a senseless exposure of the tire changers to unnecessary risk. There was good luck all around at Texas Saturday night when Sato plowed through his pit box and took out one of his tire changers. It’s amazing and very lucky that his injuries seemed minor. Why not change the rules and require tire changers to remain on pit wall until the car is stopped? It would slow the stop a little, but would be the same for everyone. It seems like that would be a much safer approach and it doesn’t cost a penny!
Greg in Brown County
RM: That is a great question, and an even better suggestion. When I worked on Indy pit crews in the ’70s we weren’t allowed to go over the wall until the car stopped and those were the days of no pit speed limit, so it made a lot of sense. It’s insane to have crewmen kneeling and at the mercy of drivers searching for their pit or trying to slow down or trying to turn into their pit box. Totally unnecessary, and IndyCar needs to change the procedure before someone gets killed.
Q: There are currently nine drivers on the “Big 3” teams. If we’re only looking at drivers that aren’t rookies or named Marco Andretti (zing!), that leaves seven drivers. Of those, six of them are in the top seven places in the point standings. The remaining driver is down in 19th place, and that driver is Zach Veach. If he doesn’t start putting in some good performances, will he be on the way out? He had a few good runs late last year, but other than that I can’t figure out why he’s occupying such a nice seat unless he brings a lot of money.
RM: First off, he’s got a good three-year sponsorship and this is year two, so he’s sticking around. Secondly, he’s had a few mistakes from trying too hard this year, but he’s had some good runs and is getting quicker. Hell, it’s only his second season so let him get some experience.
Q: Thanks for all the great coverage, and good to hear from one who has been following long before I started to watch CART/IndyCar back in the early ’90s. Why is there no catch fencing on the inside wall running parallel to the pit lane at IMS? When a tire was hit in the pit lane during the recent Indy 500, it could have easily jumped the wall onto the track – yikes! Conversely, debris or even a car on track could easily jump the wall into the pit lane. Nobody uses pit lane boards anymore, and it doesn’t seem to make any sense. IMS has spent millions on upgrading safety at the track so they must have a great explanation or reason why this hasn’t been installed. If not, IMO this is a terrible and easily preventable accident just waiting to happen.
Dean Hirasawa, Toronto, Canada
RM: Totally agree. There should be a catch fence on the pit wall like was used for MotoGP and there should also be something similar and even stronger behind the pits, because if a tire ever gets punted into the crowd it will kill someone. And if a car makes it into the Tower Terrace section, turn out the lights. Indy has been so lucky through the years that nothing like this has ever happened, so quit tempting fate and do something about it. I don’t care if you have to remove the first 10 rows of Tower Terrace, it could prevent a disaster.
Q: I sometimes make the mistake of wading into the sewer and reading the comments at the end of a RACER article. The amount of complaints about the coverage of Leigh Diffey and Paul Tracy are just not to be believed. Does anybody remember that dynamic duo of Goodyear and Cheever and the coverage on ABC? Not a question I guess, but to all those complainers, I just have to say “enough already.” NBC, NBC Gold, and Diffey, Tracy, and Bell are a godsend. IndyCar fans can’t seem to help themselves. You could hand them $100 and they’d complain it wasn’t $200. I know you work with them, but what’s not to like?
Justin, Park City
RM: They’ve got chemistry, knowledge, they stay on top of the races and they aren’t afraid to argue with each other about a crash or a rule. And they all care. It shows.
Q: Another great finish at TMS. My question is about the extension of the contract for an additional four years. It seems the history of TMS and Eddie Gossage included keeping an IndyCar race out of COTA with a threat of ending the association with TMS. Now that it happened, and appears to be a success, it seems against the prevailing thought IndyCar would get an extension at TMS. Any thoughts on the matter?
Tom in Waco
RM: All I know is that Texas is big and there’s plenty of room for two races of different disciplines, and I’m glad TMS and COTA are on the schedule for the foreseeable future.