Q: What a wonderful – and true – article about Conor Daly! Thank you for putting your important opinion out there about a great American driver. We are fortunate fans who have always followed the support series and had the pleasure of watching Conor and Josef Newgarden, and getting to know them since they were in Skip Barber. When we get to see them now, if we are that lucky, they greet us as the fine young men they are beyond their talent. We always want the ride that Conor deserves to come his way! Always enjoy reading your comments, but this one really hit a spot in our hearts!
Ron and Elaine Gertner
RM: Well thanks, glad you enjoyed it, and even though he’s jumping back and forth between two teams, he’s showing his strength in terms of reading a chassis and making it better. He’s not a great American driver yet, but he could be – especially if he gets a stable ride for three years with the same engineer. He’s always been able to race, and people tend to forget he and Newgarden were equals all through the junior formulas.
Q: With it looking highly likely if not definite that Team Penske is leaving sports cars after this season, what is the future for Helio Castroneves? Is this year his last Indy 500-only appearance with Penske? If so, is he interested in coming back to IndyCar full-time with another team? Would another team be interested in him?
Jason Branch, Ocala, FL
RM: All good questions. I think he’ll get some good sports car offers and I think he’s still carrying the torch for IndyCar, but can’t imagine him driving for anyone else but R.P. It could be his last Indy 500 depending on how he runs, who comes back with Team Penske in 2021 and how soon Scott McLaughlin is in a car.
Q: Big Ed Carpenter fan here. Big sprint car fan here. I’ve watched Ed since the early 2000s and was just always a fan. Very likable guy. Can’t wait for him to win Indy. After watching Iowa last weekend, I have to ask, is it time for Ed to put two young guys in his cars and bring out a third car for him to run Indy only? I would love to see Ed put Conor Daly full-time in one of his cars and Chris Windom full-time in a second car. Air Force sponsors Conor, NOS Energy sponsors Chris. Give these guys three years to build themselves. (I know Chris Windom would maybe have to run a couple full seasons in Lights before the move to IndyCar).
I am not knocking F1 guys coming over here to race, but would just love to see some USAC guys get their shot. Too many damn talented racers. I went to Attica Raceway last week and watched Kyle Larson tear up the Brad Doty Classic. The dude knows how to wheel a race car. The world we live in is all about second chances. Since it was a ‘business decision’ to let go Kyle in NASCAR, do you see Chip offering Kyle an Indy 500 chance? I think that would sell big in the Indy ticket office, and I think the guy can compete for the win.
Andy, St. Marys, Ohio
RM: Ed is a smart guy and he’s not going to hang on if he thinks his time has passed, and I still think he’ll be a factor at Indy next month. It’s tough for anyone to run a few races a year and be competitive with today’s mob of talent, but he’s struggled lately at Texas and Iowa. I think Rinus Veekay is the future of ECR, and Daly could be a full-time candidate as well if USAF stays with him and Ed goes the Indy-only route. Larson’s best hope for an Indy ride would be Tony Stewart, but it won’t be with Ganassi. And Windom has been supported by David Byrd in Lights the past two years, so that’s his best ticket to get to the Indy 500.
Q: Long-time reader, first-time mailer. Out of the small field of rookies in IndyCar this year, who has impressed you the most so far this season and why? Who could improve a little more? Thanks for your time and keep up the hard work.
RM: Askew, Palou and Veekay have all been impressive at various times – Oliver at Iowa and qualifying at IMS, Alex and Rinus at Road America and Iowa – and they certainly don’t drive like it’s their first year. They’ll all improve during the next eight races.
Q: I’m seeing a decline in Power (though still fast) and Vettel. As an insider, what are a couple of signs drivers are starting to fade? Both those guys seem to he making high-risk moves early in races. Dixon is still a hard charger, but he’s now just munching points like Pac-Man.
RM: I don’t see any decline in Will’s qualifying or racing, but it’s human nature to press a little when your teammates have won races and you haven’t. He was looking good at IMS before stalling in the pits, and had Road America in hand before losing out on the final pit stop. Qualifying in the back and not leading laps or being competitive would be the signs of fading, and he hasn’t shown any of those.