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This is a Mailbag for the ages, because all the letters about Roger Penske started flooding my inbox as I was answering all the James Hinchcliffe emails from the previous week. So we’ve decided to run a couple of Penske comments today, and next week will be largely about The Captain’s takeover of IMS and IndyCar. And what we’ve done in this edition is to let fans voice their Hinch thoughts in the first part of the Mailbag, and then switch to the usual Q&A format to cover some questions about The Mayor’s future and then the normal flow of IndyCar stuff. Thanks for the support and interest. Robin.
Q: Holy smolie! Who saw this one coming? If the Speedway had to be sold, I’m glad it’s staying in the ‘family’, if you will. Mr. Penske should be an excellent steward of the Speedway, and IndyCar in general should be in great shape in the coming years. Thank God it wasn’t sold to the France family! That said, I am slightly concerned that rules could be enforced that might be in Penske’s favor. In my opinion, that should not be allowed to happen. Overall I think I’m happy with this, and there could be exciting opportunities down the road. Did you have any idea this was in the works, Robin? What are your feelings on the sale?
Jerry Laake, Davenport, Iowa
RM: I wrote – and I feel like – it’s the best news in 50 years, because of R.P.’s commitment to excellence, worldwide business savvy, ability to pick the right people to run his companies and his undying passion for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. I knew something might be coming, but I didn’t hear The Captain’s name until 72 hours before it was announced.
Q: Every time one of the France family made a sideways glance to the north, rumors started flying about IMS being sold. How in the world were they able to keep this quiet for this long?
Scott C, Bargersville, IN
RM: Because Roger Penske commands and gets respect and emphasizes teamwork. It all happened in six weeks, but just like the Mercedes engine surprise of 1994, he gets his people to buy into loyalty and keep things in-house. Hell, he got Paul Tracy to keep a secret back then.
I think that the treatment Hinch has received is appalling. You said it was going to happen, but why couldn’t SPM have been decent about it and done it before teams were pretty much set for 2020? IndyCar wonders why they constantly have to fight for viewers; perhaps they should just look at the way they do business. Hopefully Hinch will find a ride with a team that doesn’t regularly screw up their race strategy.
Dave, a pissed-off Canuck!
I had planned on writing something toned-down about Arrow McLaren SP and its announced driver line-up, and then I saw this small piece in the LA Times: ‘Zak Brown, the head of McLaren, said its IndyCar team will pay James Hinchcliffe not to drive for them next year after driver Pato O’Ward became available.’ Now, how cold is that announcement!
My first reaction to the article last Monday was, how wonderful for Pato and Oliver. Then a few seconds went by (more than I care to admit) and then I said out loud, “but what about James?” So, what else will the team pay Hinch not to do? And this b.s. from Brown about James being in the running for an Indy 500 drive if he does not secure a full-time ride is completely bogus. Does Zak think I truly believe that? This whole episode has been mishandled from the start. The team should have had the balls to let James go in the beginning. That would have been honest. I am disgusted.