Q: Add me to the thousands of IndyCar fans who would be absolutely appalled to see Alexander Rossi snapped up by Penske. Perhaps had it been Pagenaud returning to SPM or something like that, but this would be just terrible. Why is Michael so interested in bailing back over to Chevrolet? Just to work McLaren back into the fold?
Greg, Belleville, NJ
RM: I imagine money or McLaren could be considerations, but the only person that can truly answer that is Michael and he’s not going to tell us anything right now. And if he did go to Chevrolet, he’d certainly try to keep Rossi. But, again, that might depend on how much money The Captain offers and what kind of perks (sports cars, stock cars, Supercars) and whether Andretti could match it.
Q: I have a few things to get your thoughts on. First and foremost, Conor Daly. I have to believe he is in the frame for either an Andretti seat full-time, or the second HSR car next season if funding allows it. He’s been with the team since Indy and has been on social media doing appearances with Rossi and Herta. He’s deserving for sure, and he’s by far a fan favorite. Any inside word on what things are looking like for him? And if Rossi goes to Penske, which I personally don’t really think will happen, I’m wondering if Helio goes to Andretti either for the full season, or Indy only. Wouldn’t that ruffle some feathers in the paddock?
Ben, Noblesville, IN
RM: If Michael lost Rossi to Penske then I believe Daly would be on his shortlist, and the Air Force might be inclined to help since they really like the Andretti operation. And Michael likes Conor, who’s done a fine job this season. As for HSR, let’s just wait and see how things work out for its one-car star with sponsorship. No chance Castroneves drives an IndyCar for anyone but The Captain.
Q: What is wrong with Spencer Pigot? He showed promise some a year ago, but so far this year he hasn’t shown much. I can’t imagine ECR keeping him long, with sponsorship for the team being as difficult as it is. Any word on sponsors for ECR? Thanks again for your time and effort. I hope to get to shake your hand someday, or at least buy your lunch one day at the Mug and Bun and hear more stories of the old days!
RM: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Pigot that a break or two wouldn’t fix. He’s qualified third at Indy, sixth at Barber, sixth at Texas and eighth at Road America but he’s been hampered by pit lane penalties (Barber & Indy) or caught up/taken out by someone else’s mistake (COTA, Long Beach, Detroit) and the car just sucked at Texas in the race. Three of his best tracks are still ahead (second at Iowa in 2018, sixth at Gateway and fourth at Portland) so he just needs a good result. But he’s driving just fine.
Q: What’s your opinion on Pato temporarily leaving IndyCar? I personally think that it’s IndyCar’s loss and global auto racing’s gain.
RM: I hate it. Pato is such a great talent and personality, but I imagine if Red Bell gets his Super License straightened out it’s his best shot to advance, since nobody in IndyCar has anything for him right now.
Q: What’s the reaction in the paddock and from IndyCar regarding Pato having to go to Europe and Japan to keep racing? As a fan, I’m crushed that we’re losing (at least for now) such an outstanding talent, honed in North America in Indy Lights and IMSA. I was impressed with his detailed, technical answers in his interview with Chris Medland. I would think Pato has the potential to really pull in significant audience from Mexico and beyond. Mark Miles should be parked in Carlos Slim’s office making the case.
Lee Robie, Cincinnati, Ohio
RM: Not sure because it just happened, and I haven’t talked to anyone except hearing from the fans and, like you, they are saddened we may be losing O’Ward forever. But it’s all about opportunity.
Q: I could not help but notice a lackluster performance of Pato in Austria in his F2 debut. I know; new cars, new tires, new track. But it does bring up a couple of points to ponder. Jordan King, his teammate, did substantially better and although he has been in that car longer, it makes me wonder why Jordan did not get all the accolades that Pato has received in his rookie year in IndyCar. Has Pato really shown that much more promise this year than Mr. King did last year? Second, do you think a weekend like Pato had helps or hinders his career? He obviously had a difficult task ahead of him, but it seems to me in the world of racing that excuses are soon forgotten and results are all that matter. Is a driver better off not driving at all than putting himself in a position of driving under difficult circumstances and placing poorly?
Justin, Park City, UT
RM: Oh my god, are you kidding? He qualified seventh, eighth and ninth for Carlin and that is hardly a top team at the moment and he races like a veteran (Sonoma a year ago) and just has that “it” factor. King did a nice job on occasion for ECR but Pato is 21 and the sky is the limit. Nobody expected him to jump into a strange car on a new track with tires he’d never run and do much. And by the end of the weekend Red Bull had released another driver from its Junior program and given Pato his seat in Japan, so it must have seen something it liked.