Q: All this noise about electric IndyCars… I recall a yawner series of electric open-wheel cars on the old Thursday Night Thunder. I believe they ran the IRP oval. Do you remember the series?
David Weidler, Mascoutah, Il.
RM: No I don’t, but IndyCars are not going to be electric.
Q: What is Honda’s contract with Chip? I know it was very important to lock down Andretti (Rossi, Herta, RHR) but I hope Honda doesn’t put so much focus on them that they forget about CGR. If Chip feels slighted I can see him bailing to Ilmor. In my opinion, CGR with Scott and Felix is just as important for Honda. Yes, Rossi and Herta are both young with the sky being the limit, but Scott still has many years left (oh, and is one of the best ever) and Felix is young and going to be a stud. I’m just saying that I hope Honda doesn’t lose focus on the other very important players in their stable.
Josh R., Salem, OR
RM: I don’t think Chip feels slighted, he got a nice little stipend for going back to Honda in 2016 and I believe his current contract runs through 2020. And there is no doubt that Dixon is a Honda favorite.
Q: What is the likelihood of IndyCar filling this long August gap with a race in 2020? I know we ask about this every year, but with F1 on its summer break and August being the peak of summer, it really feels like IndyCar should be racing somewhere this weekend.
Justin in Indy
RM: Next year is tricky because of the Summer Olympics on NBC, but I know IndyCar would like to close in the August gap ASAP.
Q: There is always talk of fans wanting more ovals, but there not being any oval track promoters that want IndyCar. So, if Pocono and Richmond both want races, this is one of many fans that would be disappointed to not have both. Also, I would think having both Cup races the same weekend at the Tricky Triangle would help IndyCar attendance in 2020.
Matt Converset, Decatur, IN
RM: I think that’s what we’re waiting on – to see if one or both will be on the 2020 schedule, and I would think your logic about that double-header is sound. It could help IndyCar, because right now the Pocono race is sandwiched in between two Cup shows.
Q: I can accept the urgency felt by IndyCar to make their next driveline include a token hybrid component: the manufacturers have spoken. Will IndyCar immediately look at and consider any changes to the Leader Circle program format and payout? With a slight displacement increase, addition of the Aeroscreen, and additional weight of the KERS package, has IndyCar tasked its staff with securing and certifying a superior refueling rig design? We are not likely to see the next-gen cars needing less fuel per race. A lot of good teams and drivers have suffered in the pits.
Will IndyCar provide Firestone and teams with 9-12 months to test completed 2022-spec cars to allow tire design to accommodate the new chassis and dial in aero elements? Dallara does good work. However, no matter where they magically establish the polar moment of inertia on the new car, Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an exceptional venue. Let’s hope IndyCar will minimize the collateral damage this transition will cause. The racing has been so good, we are hoping for the best through this. Thanks for all you do. Thanks for the great column on Rodger Ward’s 1959 Lime Rock Formula Libre victory in an Offy-engined midget. How many guys would have bet on anybody in a midget to beat the Jags, Ferraris, Coopers, etc., on a pavement road course?
Rick W., California
RM: I haven’t heard the Leader’s Circle mentioned in any conversations lately, but I assume you are proposing an increase in money or spots? Don’t see either one happening. New fueling rigs? That seems like an unnecessary expense with new cars, engines, parts. IndyCar likely will have a testing program with a selected team or teams and Firestone will obviously be heavily involved. Loved the photos of Ward in Ken Brenn’s midget at Lime Rock.
Q: So theoretically, is Rossi the first one ever to turn down Penske? Also, Chevrolet has won the last two Indy 500s – was this a reason to consider a Chevrolet team? Or will Honda, like 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, be back in Indy’s winners circle?
RM: No. Ryan Hunter-Reay also did to stay loyal to Michael for giving him a lifeline in 2010, and he went on to win the championship and Indianapolis 500 so it worked out. Any driver would listen to The Captain, regardless of his engine at the time. Chevy and Honda are about as even, year in and year out, as anyone could imagine, so flip a coin.
Q: Can you go into further detail about why Rossi is OK with a four-car line-up at Andretti but not at Penske? Secondly, I found your article interesting that you said that the Rossi camp approached Penske, and not the other way around. Lastly, do we know how many years his new deal is for?
Andy Brumbaugh, Columbia, SC
RM: Those were Roger Penske’s comments – Pieter Rossi chose only to say they had an offer from a championship team. But the obvious difference is that Alex is the future for Andretti. The team is built around him with help from Honda, while Rossi would simply be the fourth spoke of the most successful wheel in IndyCar with R.P. It’s a three-year deal with an option in the fourth.