Q: I’m really enjoying the racing this season. Some races have been better than others, but none have been complete duds, in my opinion. I also want to give a thumbs-up to the IndyCar app. The live team communications is great, especially for an oval like Iowa. And it’s free. Now a question: what’s the real deal with Ferrucci? He came to IndyCar with a lot of baggage, but I have yet to hear a negative thing about him. He’s certainly a talented and entertaining driver, and was one of the stars Saturday night.
Tobey Taylor, Houston, TX
RM: Like I wrote in the answer above your question, Santino has been a breath of fresh air – especially after all the things we’d been warned about him. I chalk it up to being a kid – we all did stupid things, but he certainly appears to have matured between ages 19 and 21.
Q: Do you think Marco Andretti is driving scared and just doesn’t want to admit it? It certainly does seem that way to me. He’s never been real stellar at the road courses, but in the past he always seemed to do well at the oval races. Yet in the past few seasons he hasn’t performed well at all, even at Indy where he was usually considered a threat. I don’t have anything against the kid, but man, it’s painful to watch any more of this, as now the only threat he poses to the other drivers on track is that he’s a moving chicane. It just looks to me like something has spooked him and that he’s scared to death at the moment and just doesn’t want to admit it, and I wonder if you feel the same?
Best Regards, TK
RM: I think he got spooked on the first lap at Indy with a wicked loose car and went straight backwards and never recovered. And the worst thing for an IndyCar driver is to have a terminally ill-handling car on an oval like he did last Saturday night until finally parking it. But I’ve never considered he was driving scared. I think it’s more a lack of confidence than anything.
Q: Over the last two years it has been very evident Marco has lost his confidence or desire to be a driver anymore. Yes, I know he has two huge gorillas on his back and that he’ll never be able to live up to what others expected of him. Now is the time for Marco to step away as a driver and focus exclusively as an owner. Conor Daly could step in immediately and show a vast improvement as a competitive driver and car over what has occurred in the past two seasons. Just think, the series could have 24 competitive cars instead of the present 23. In addition, the series would have a driver in Conor who had a good personality to help promote IndyCar racing. I’ve heard talk that Mazda is looking into supplying engines. So that’s what my crystal ball is telling me. Stay healthy and I’ll see you at Mid Ohio.
RM: I agree to a point, because he’s been quick in practice at so many places but then can’t repeat in qualifying and, subsequently, the races. He’s got the ability to go fast and race well, but is so inconsistent and it’s puzzling. He qualified 10th at Indy but immediately faded, and qualified in the back at Detroit after winning the pole by an impressive margin in 2018. Last weekend wasn’t a good one for Andretti Autosport, but he was slow in every session while one of his teammates with a lot less experience, Zach Veach, figured things out and drove from the back to seventh. Mazda? Don’t think so.
Q: After watching the Iowa race Saturday night, I have come to the conclusion Marco really needs to step out of that No. 98 car. Regardless if he is an owner, that car and team deserve better. Finishing five or so laps down at the Indy 500 and having to park his car at Iowa has got be a huge embarrassment. I think his excuse was that they might have picked up some debris Saturday night? Not buying it. Everyone keeps talking about Marco’s winless streak, but let’s be real, his podium drought is at four years! He is nowhere close, and when the green flag drops, he becomes a gentleman driver and a moving chicane. It’s painful to watch, as I want him to succeed. Let’s hope Rossi resigns with AA (he reminds me of Michael in the early ’90s), RHR finds his mojo, and Conor Daly gets a full-time shot with AA.
MJ, Scottsdale, AZ
RM: All I can say is that it has to be agony, because he’s an Andretti and he’s got pride, so how long does he want to be a field-filler? And will he ever turn things around? I hope so, but I truly don’t know what’s happened because he’s got talent.
Q: Liked your article on driver altercations. You alluded to Parnelli getting into a scrape or two. I think he and Eddie Sachs had a great one that resulted in Sachs doing a pose for the newspaper with a surrender flag in his mouth. I always wondered if Rufus took that one in stride. I know we were excited about the growth of ownership that appeared last year, and I know some of them have fell on harder times that we hoped.
Any word on other potential owners in the pipeline? I know it’s an old drum to beat, but I really want to see Conor Daly in a car next year, and the more options, the better his chances. Plus, I love the new blood in the paddock. My comment is that I hope we all see the gift we have to IndyCar in Alexander Rossi. It really seems like he may be a superstar in the making, if not already. And while he seems to be a really good guy, he has a little of the old school mentality(that A.J. and Uncle Bobby had that makes him unique. Hopefully he lands back with Andretti and NAPA for long-term. I wish you continued good health!
RM: Thanks John. I’ve talked with Rufus about him punching Sachs, and he always says he’s sorry he did because he liked Eddie. But very few people were dumb enough to pick a fight with the Jones boy. Haven’t heard of any potential new owners yet, except maybe Zak Brown. I’ve been pounding Conor’s drum for a long time and I think he’s really shown he belongs this season. I just wish A.J. would have kept him, because he’s a technically skilled driver and he could have helped that team. I know he was critical of them at times, but he gave them their best runs of the past three seasons, and he’s done wonders with Carlin Racing in only two appearances. The Air Force likes him and Andretti Autosport, but I don’t think it’s enough sponsorship to provide a full-time seat. Rossi has a lot of that ’60s mentality and go-for-the-throat instinct, and I think he’s going to stay with Andretti.