Q: I’m hoping the planned “weekend festival” (as teased on the RIR website) contains something particularly special, as it will be interesting in terms of attendance without freebees from Marlboro and ‘ticket incentives’ from NASCAR (the “combo ticket” promo they had in the past, at least one of the years). It really needs a draw, and something unique. I would recommend that Green/Savoree promote it for it to have a chance at decent attendance in NASCAR country. Ticket prices look very reasonable, but it’s going to take more than that to get people through the gates. My NASCAR buddies couldn’t care less about IndyCar (and even asked me on Sunday “how can they race on that short of a track,” to which I replied “well, it’s three laps/minute with little passing, so not very well, at least from the past”).
No matter what I say/do I’ve made only small inroads on their viewership, but maybe I can spend a year convincing them to go to Richmond next year with me.
RM: As I recall, most of the Richmond races were well-attended, and a lot of the NASCAR fans stuck around to get close to the drivers and cars since that’s not possible in Cup. Yes Marlboro gave away tickets, and I believe IndyCar was part of the NASCAR ticket package so it will be a challenge for Dennis Bickmeier & Company to bring people back. But Richmond will promote the hell out of the race and, (as I’ve said in the letters above), I think it will be a lot more entertaining than Pocono, so tell your buddies to give it a try.
Q: I keep hearing the moaning about double points. The AAA of the past gave out points based on every 100 miles of the event. Most events in the 1950s were 100 miles except for the Indianapolis 500. The point system for 100 miles was 200 points for first, 160 for second, 140 for third, and continued down to 12th place as follows: 120, 100, 80, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 for 12th place. The 500 was a 1000 point race for 1st, 800 for 2nd, 700 for third, 600 for fourth, followed by 500, 400, 300, 250, 200, 150, 100, and 50 for 12th place. I suggest a return to this system. This would put a premium on winning the Indianapolis 500. I have attended every 500 since the Bob Sweikert win; I am looking forward to number 66 in 2020.
Bruce R. Smith
RM: I don’t think anyone has a problem with double points for Indianapolis, but it’s absurd to reward them at the final race on a road course that’s not conducive to passing. IndyCar doesn’t need double points to ensure a close championship and it never has, so hopefully this bad idea goes away sooner rather than later.
Q: As this season comes to a close, there’s no doubt that Josef Newgarden had some very impressive drives to be No. 1. Four wins speak magic for him. That said, he has also had some crazy luck that Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi arguably haven’t had. I wonder what the championship battle would be like right now if Scott and Alex didn’t have certain issues and crashes/DNFs. Josef has caught a few lucky yellows or wrecks that helped some less-than-stellar performances. Then again, that’s racing. Strategy and luck have as much to do with winning as anything else.
On another note, with McLaren now heading back to Indy and seeing that Monster-sponsored Felix car, what do you think of Red Bull Racing heading into IndyCar? Between working with IndyCar on the windscreen, having a team in every facet of motorsport, and the current partnership with Honda F1, now seems like a great time to enter the sport. Red Bull also has so many F1 Juniors – what better place to put them than in IndyCar? Add the McLaren rivalry. Seems like a win for everyone.
RM: No doubt JoNew has had some good luck and that’s what it usually takes to win a title, but he’s also had no DNFs (Dixon has four) and led the most laps, so it’s no fluke he’s leading heading into the finale. As for Red Bull, nobody knows them any better than Jay Frye since he operated the Red Bull team in NASCAR and put together the aeroscreen program, but not sure returning to IndyCar (remember the Eddie Cheever team?) is high on their agenda. Could they fund a junior driver over here? I’m sure they could if they chose to, and I’d nominate Pato O’Ward.
Q: Saw DragonSpeed hopes to be at Laguna Seca finale and in 10 races next year. Do you think they are a legitimate possibility for a full-time team in 2020? Do you think Conor Daly would be a good fit for them? He could bring the Air Force with him for some funding.
RM: Owner Elton Julian said that 10 races are his goal for 2020 but if a proper driver came to them with a budget he’d be open to doing more races, so I guess that’s where it stands. Daly deserves a full-time shot with an established team, and Carlin or McLaren would be the exceptions.
Q: Scott Dixon must have walked under a ladder or pulled the tail of a black cat or something equally as unlucky. In each of the last two races, he was in a good position for two wins, which would have put him right in contention for championship No. 6. Instead, he gets sidelined by a hole in the radiator and a flat battery. How bizarre.
Peter Hirst, West Lafayette, IN
RM: Yep, and crashing at Texas and Detroit were anomalies for Dixie, but even with his talent, four DNFs are just impossible to overcome these days.