Q: Wow! What a weekend! Two great races at a great track. Gave me an idea: IndyCar should rotate doubleheaders at Road America, Mid-Ohio and Barber. Thoughts?
Vincent Martinez, South Pasadena, CA
RM: I think it works at all three depending on the support races.
Q: I noticed many of the fans at Road America last weekend failed to practice effective infection control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many arrived at the track without masks. Although provided with masks upon entering, many refused to wear them once inside. What is wrong with these people? They obviously don’t care about their fellow human beings, but they also do not care about the remainder of the 2020 NTT IndyCar season. The NBC camera crews did a good job of showing groups of fans around the track. There were places where about half the fans had masks and the other half did not. Those that did not, didn’t even have the decency to display embarrassment and shame.
Epidemiologists will be watching carefully in the next 14 days to determine whether there is a COVID-19 spike among those who attended this event. If there is a spike, what do you think are the chances of the Indy 500, or any other race for that matter, being permitted to run with fans present? I have friends attending Iowa next week, and they are taking extraordinary measures to protect their fellow fans as well as the remainder of the 2019 IndyCar season. Why can’t other IndyCar fans be this conscientious?
I work at a hospital, and two of my colleagues have contracted COVID-19 and died during this pandemic. I have lost count of how many patients we have lost. I am a social conservative and can tell you from personal experience – this is not a hoax, this is not a Republican or Democratic or right vs left issue. It’s about reality.
Gary Sugg, Glendora, CA
RM: I wasn’t at Road America, but I did see several shots of families sitting on the grass by their trucks or tents without masks and well-spaced from others, so since it was outdoors that didn’t bother me. If there were 20,000 people crammed into a grandstand sitting side-by-side without a mask that would be of more concern. I imagine Indy is at the mercy of COVID-19 statistics, and we’re still a month away, but I know R.P. is still full steam ahead. I don’t profess to know anything except it seems like people outside at a gathering have a lot better odds than people inside, so maybe it’s made race fans a little bolder.
Q: I have to say I’m a bit upset about the second race at Road America. Will Power. For the life of me, I can’t understand how Power, after taking out two cars on one lap, was given the penalty of going to the back of the field. Under yellow! Furthermore, it allowed him to make an out-of-sequence pit stop that clearly benefitted him. Wouldn’t a 30-second stop-and-go be more appropriate? Second, after all these years of watching IndyCar, I guess I never realized the amount of concrete and guardrail around RA. Graham Rahal’s incident could have been really bad. How about some SAFER barriers at critical points on that track? Thanks Robin. I really enjoy the Mailbag and your usual candor.
RM: I think the options for avoidable contact are drive-throughs, stop-and-hold or being relegated to the back of the field depending on what Race Control deems the severity or intent. And obviously they didn’t feel Power’s punt was preconceived or intentional. Rahal hit in a rare place, but I’m sure Road America will look into a better solution.
Q: The green flag debacle of Race 2 was clearly the fault of the IndyCar starter who waited much too long to throw the green flag. By the time he did, the field was packed up like a parking lot. There was no way a field of turbocharged cars with turbo lag and just feet from each other could accelerate in sync with each other. Yes, Will punted Ryan, but it became a racing incident as soon as the starter created the situation. And I was most disappointed to hear the otherwise excellent broadcast trio suggest that Power pushed Rahal off the track. Yes, Power touched wheels with Rahal, but it was Rosenqvist who then hit Rahal and put him off the track. Rahal was still in control before Rosenqvist hit him.
In my view, it was Rosenqvist, if anyone, who deserved a penalty for unavoidable contact. One wonders if the announcers pinning it on Power actually influenced the stewards. Speaking of the broadcast team, I always appreciate the “through the field” analysis. That seems too slick to be impromptu. Does someone script that for the whole team just before they launch into it?
Dale Murray, Mount Joy, PA
RM: It appeared the start was very slow and that backed everyone up, so not sure how that’s the flagman’s fault. It’s tricky coming up that hill with 23 drivers on each other’s gearbox, and Saturday may have been one of the best first laps of racing I’ve ever seen. It looked like Power pushed Graham wide after a dive bomb into the corner, but not sure how much actual contact there was until he and Felix got together. As for the “through the field,” each pit reporter makes some notes when they find out who they have, but it’s off the cuff and not scripted at all, and Dave Burns and Hinch did a good job.
Q: Why is it that NASCAR can push and shove guys out of the way at 200mph, but Power can’t get away with a racing incident(s)? And why is it that Paul Tracy loves to tattle on Power? He has done this many times, and I’m getting a little tired of “Crash” Tracy’s hopes for a penalty on Power. Thank God Diffey and Bell are in there to provide some professional reasoning.
TJ Spitzmiller, Palmetto, FL
RM: Pretty simple to see why stock cars can lean on each other and open-wheel IndyCars can’t have much contact, but I thought last weekend was some of the closest, hardest and best racing I’ve watched in a long time. I don’t think Will got penalized for Graham, and I also don’t think he meant to knock RHR into the tires and out of the race, but he did. And his punishment was about as light as possible. I know P.T. likes Willy P., but the announcers are conditioned to question situations, and sure, it’s ironic that The Thrill From West Hill jumps on drivers for being overly aggressive. But he has nothing against Power personally.
Q: While Scott Dixon is driving like a man possessed, Power is driving like a man out of control. Is his contract up for renewal? I don’t want to think he’s a dirty driver, but he’s giving me cause.
John from Akron
RM: This is the final year of Power’s contract, so he might be pressing a little bit with Scott McLaughlin in the back of his mind. But Will has never been a dirty driver, just forceful sometimes.