Q: Unfortunately not the great race all we were all hoping for on national (broadcast) TV. The track made it tough to do much of anything. Why did Hunter-Reay and Rossi get double penalties at the start? They had to move to the back of the grid and had to do a drive-through. That doesn’t seem fair.
Paul Fitzgerald, Indianapolis
RM: “Hi Paul. Thank you for your question. This was an impound race, meaning that only limited, approved changes were permitted following qualifying and the cars are impounded under IndyCar supervision during this time. The No. 27 and No. 28 both made unapproved changes during the impound period and the penalty for unapproved changes is to start from the back of the grid and serve a drive-through penalty.” Kyle Novak, IndyCar Race Director.
Q: I was super-excited to watch IndyCar again. It’s great to have real racing back, but what the hell happened to Texas? The leaders couldn’t even get around a lapped car. Is it the NASCAR traction compound? The aeroscreen? I was really looking forward to the finish between the two CGR cars, but then Marco pulled the stupidest move I’ve seen in decades. He’s a lap down, Hinch is three laps down so it’s not even for position. He makes a bonehead move, takes the air off James’ wing and that pushes Felix into the dirt. He robbed all of us from a great finish. Hopefully he gets a tune-up for that. How about Veach and Daly?
Jeff from Canada
RM: As we said earlier it was that compound, hard tires and temps, and other than the extreme heat I didn’t hear any drivers complain that the aeroscreen was to blame, although I’m sure adding 60 pounds of weight does affects the center of gravity. It looked like Rosenqvist got on the “black ice” and lost it, but it’s certainly possible that Marco’s move was a factor. Great results for Veach and Daly, who has to have Trevor Carlin’s attention and affection by now.
Q: So post-Texas, what’s the initial feedback on the aeroscreen in regard to cutting through the air and its effect on trailing cars? While there was passing, it also looked like a lot of drivers were having trouble getting around slower cars. Understand it could have been from other factors. Just curious to know if anyone attributed difficulty in passing to the aeroscreen?
RM: The complaints about the aeroscreen were universal, but focused on the heat – not the way it made the car perform. Tony Kanaan said it was the most difficult race of his 23 years: “I never sat in a race car that hot. I drank seven bottles of fluids during the race and lost four pounds. We’re use to cracking open our visor and getting a little air in our face, but this was like a sauna. I feel bad for the drivers racing on street and road courses, because you lose energy. But it worked, and it’s just a new thing we’ve got to get used to.”
Q: After watching one of the replays of an IndyCar race on NBC earlier this year I was reminded of how awful the cars looked with the rear bumper pods. I then tuned into Saturday night’s race. In spite of previously seeing pictures of the aeroscreen, I was stunned by how bad it looks. This may be the worst thing to happen to IndyCar racing since The Split. Please explain to me again how the halo, which is used by F1 and multiple junior formulas, was going to be impossible to use on an IndyCar. I remember some discussion about how it would visually impair the driver’s vision on ovals, but I can’t see how this screen is any less obtrusive. If anything, it seems it would interfere with the driver’s vision even more than the halo.
I’m all for protecting the drivers and didn’t really have an issue when F1 started using the halo, but the aeroscreens have ruined the look of IndyCar, and every time they show a highlight from 2019 and then go back to live racing it’s going to be a reminder on how bad they look. It’s a shame that the rear bumpers finally went away, but these screens are never going away.
Dave, Vineland, NJ
RM: At a high-banked oval like Texas, where the drivers have to look up and down the track, my understanding is that the halo wasn’t acceptable. Now maybe after a year IndyCar will take a look and makes some modifications to the aeroscreen (it may have to in terms of getting the drivers some air), but there is no denying it’s butt-ugly compared to a standard IndyCar. I didn’t think it looked too bad from the side but head-on it’s not pretty. Of course if the racing stays good like it’s been, we’ll adapt. I hope.
Q: I’m devastated by the defacing of the best-looking cars in IndyCar for decades. They are ridiculous. They make the cars look like those hideous closed WEC LMP2 cars. Is anyone else as disappointed as I? They make the F1 halo look subtle.
RM: In a word: yes. I’ve got a dozen emails already this week and it’s 12-0 in favor of chopping off the aeroscreen, but it’s not going to happen.
Q: Given the condensed schedules, wouldn’t it make sense for IndyCar to loosen the rule about back-up cars? Yes, there are financial costs to the teams, but I would argue not being able to take part in an event (Sato) is a far worse potential financial impact than having a car assembled in the transporter. I’m not saying we need to go back to having both cars set with identical settings, complete with engine and gearbox and being warmed up and taken out on track, but a rolling chassis in need of the proper setup applied to it doesn’t seem that out of line.
Paul in Ellenton, FL
RM: Cost is one factor (for both the manufacturer and the team), but another is keeping track of engine use/mileage, especially now that Honda and Chevy are down to three engines for the shortened 2020 season. It’s simply easier for IndyCar to keep track of engine usage if there is only one engine assigned to a particular entry at a time.
Q: I’m definitely in favor of one-day shows as we saw in Texas this weekend. It means the teams and drivers have to work together, or they end up wasting what little track time they have. I think IndyCar should look at doing more in the future. However, with the tight time constraints for a single-day event, there is a real risk of missing the show. Sato showed us all how real that risk is when he looped the car into the wall during qualifying. I’m sure the entire RLL organization was thrashing to get the car repaired in time to start the race, but it wasn’t to be.
I know there are very specific rules regarding for engines, back-up cars, etc. Those rules were written for multi-day shows. It’s clear the rules need to be revisited for single events. Can you make a few calls and see if IndyCar is going to make the appropriate changes to the rules for single-day events? It’s good to see the Foyt team looking racy.
RM: I bug Kyle Novak and Jay Frye every week with Mailbag questions, but I’m not going to bother them about something that may or may not become a staple of IndyCar. Oval-track owners don’t like one-day shows; they say they need at least two days to properly promote, and everything else on the schedule is two or three days, so it’s never been an issue.