Q: I didn’t get the warm and fuzzy feeling from Marco watching Carb Day, and it translated to the race. Can you describe what went on with him trying to get his car dialed into race trim?
RM: I can’t tell you what happened because the media wasn’t allowed in Gasoline Alley after the race, but obviously Marco lost the handle fairly early and never got it back. When he was 28th on Carb Day you figured that was not a good sign.
Q: Until Pigot’s crash (thank God he’s OK) we really had some good racing. Even though the lead changes were orchestrated, it was still fun to see what was happening deeper in the field. With that said, the penalty on Rossi really changed the character of the race. Not sure it could have been handled differently. Maybe holding him five seconds on his next pit stop?
RM: The Rossi penalty seemed harsh because he was only doing what he was told, but IndyCar said because of all the incidents in pit lane it was cracking down on unsafe releases or preventable contact. It was suggested just to give Sato that spot, but I was told that wasn’t enough of a penalty. Sad deal, he was going to be a factor.
Q: Neither the Texas nor Indy penalties were Rossi’s fault. This poor guy! He has to be pissed! I bet he regrets re-upping with AA. IndyCar has been very harsh on him. I just hope they treat every driver the same!
Dan, Lima, Ohio
RM: Indy is a cruel beast. Alex won when he probably had no business to as a rookie, and he’s been one of the fastest cars the past three years but can’t catch a break. Not sure you can blame AA for all the misery; Texas wasn’t their fault and Sunday’s pit incident was more of racing accident than anything else. It’s a tough job to change the right front and then send your driver back into the fray ASAP while hoping to dodge cars.
Q: Is Kyle Novak the new official we’ve got to be wary of?
RM: No. He is the race official and two drivers are his stewards, and for those thankless jobs they’ve not had too many controversies in the past four years.
Q: Having seen every Indy 500 since the invention of the motion picture camera, I was very surprised no one mentioned Scott Dixon’s start. Never has the middle front-row starter dropped behind the polesitter to begin drafting even before the start! Had Dixon gone on to win, it wouldn’t have been due to this unprecedented move, but I thought it was unsportsmanlike, and the race ending under yellow was fitting Indy karma for Scott.
RM: From Race Director Kyle Novak: “In IndyCar, the pole winner controls the start and has “earned the right to start the race.” That aspect is part of the honor and reward for being the pole winner. The green flag is keyed off the acceleration of the pole winner verified through live telemetry. There is no rule regarding passing prior to the S/F line. Once the green is declared, passing may begin throughout the field regardless of a car’s position in relationship to the S/F.”
Q: I thought the decision to end the race under caution was the best choice from less than ideal options, and that topic will make up the bulk of the questions this week. We need NBC as a partner to regrow IndyCar.
My question regards the start. I realize that a 500-mile race isn’t won at the start (Although a race, even a career, can be lost at the start. See Kevin Cogan and the CV shaft.) My wife asked me if Scott Dixon’s start was legal, and I said, “I don’t know if it was or should be.” I think if you’re not in Row 1 it’s certainly legal to draft the car in front of you. Isn’t there a rule you have to be in the lane’s row you qualified in until you cross the start/finish line? Dixon made his own row by drafting Andretti on pole, which backed up the fourth, seventh, 10th… qualifiers behind him.
Should there be a rule, barring mechanical or engine issues, you reasonably keep the pole position driver’s pace and your place in the field? Doesn’t the pole position driver control the start based on the flagman’s signal? My wife and I want to know.
David Parker, Jersey City, NJ
RM: Read Kyle Novak’s response in the question above yours, but Dixon and everyone else has a right to move at the green.
Q: A comment and question about the start and finish on Sunday. The field was aligned good before coming to the green. Then as they came off of Four that’s where the alignment went away and it looked pretty raged coming to the flag. What happened? Should that start have been called off? After all Dixon dropped in behind Marco. I do hope this is not the new normal for the start.
RM: In the Indy 500 history I can never recall the start being waved off and the drivers all know that, so unless it’s something heinous (like one of the Rathmanns or Cheesburg passing 12 cars before the start) it’s never gonna happen.
Q: For me, the most memorable part of Sunday’s 500 had nothing to do with the racing. It was Roger Penske’s command to start engines. I don’t remember everything that he said, but I’m pretty sure that at one point he got choked up with emotion. If there was ever a doubt about how much Mr. Penske cares about IndyCar, IMS, and the Speedway, those doubts disappeared with his command. Thankful he will be leading the series moving forward and excited to see what’s next for IndyCar.
Kyle in PA
RM: I was glad he honored the Hulman/George family, but he’s always been a class act and owning IMS and starting the Indy 500 was very emotional to him. But “Gentlemen Start Your Engines” would have been cooler.