Q: I think that Jimmie Johnson coming into IndyCar would definitely be a huge deal. He is one of the best all time in NASCAR, and could only bring in some new fans that never gave IndyCar a chance. I don’t think he will be able to compete for wins but I think he would still put on a good show after a few races. I wish a lot of these guys who went into NASCAR would have dreamed of being a driver in Indy instead. I think the biggest loss of the last 25 years was losing Jeff Gordon to NASCAR. I think Jeff would have been one of the all-time greats in open-wheel cars. We can only hope more of these guys wanna try it out. Someone like Kyle Larson would be amazing to watch in these cars. If I was Roger I’d be finding a team and telling them do everything you can to get him a ride.
Rick from PA
RM: J.J. will draw some attention, no doubt, but he’s going to struggle to be competitive so hopefully that won’t diminish his appeal. You have to remember that Ricky Rudd, Kevin Harvick and J.J. all grew up as Rick Mears fans and wanted to run the Indy 500, but stock cars were a much more inviting place to go. Gordon tried but nobody in CART would give him the time of day. Larson’s best shot is if Tony Stewart hires him for NASCAR and then brings him to Indy.
Q: Interesting news and photo of Jean Todt’s visit to IMS, maybe F1’s return to Indy is on the cards – or maybe something more serious, like a merger for one global open-wheel series?
RM: Roger Penske has been very up front about exploring the return of F1 to IMS.
Q: When was the last time a current IndyCar driver appeared on a national television commercial (not during an IndyCar race)? Helio for Shell V Power? Or maybe Zanardi and Vasser teaching Montoya to snipe hunt? That was 20 years ago now. I assume drivers are not permitted contractually to seek out commercials to promote themselves? I have heard on local radio Hinchcliffe for Honda and Kanaan for a local Chevy dealer. Of course, let’s not forget Danica.
Dave O’Brien , Greenwood, IN
RM: Probably Hinch for Honda but there’s a set for Canada and different ones for the USA, or at least there was. Drivers can certainly seek out commercials, there just aren’t many takers right now.
Q: It could be darn near sacrilegious to say this, but I strongly suspect A.J. is fibbing about attending the 1955 Indy 500. And here’s why. His 1983 autobiography co-authored by Neely clearly states that the 1956 Indy 500 was his first (Ch. 3 “Mecca,” p. 55 of my copy). He relates many details about the 1956 race and later in the chapter, the 1957 race, which he also says he attended in the turn one grandstand. As for 1955, Chapter 2 of the book has much to say about getting his first sprint car ride that year and racing outside of Texas, but nowhere does he mention attending the 1955 Indy sitting in turn two.
Given the tragic events that unfolded just beyond turn two at Indy that year, I find it extremely hard to believe Foyt was there and somehow forgot to mention it in the 1983 book when he did describe, in so much detail, the 1956 race. In short, I think it’s 64 straight 500s for Foyt, not 65. I suppose I’ve just cost myself any chance of getting a long-sought-after A.J. autograph now.
Marc, Orange County, CA
RM: Well he’s 85 years old so I’d cut him a little slack. He did mention to me that he saw Vuky’s crash from Turn 2, so that was 1955.
Q: I know your Mailbag is inundated with Indy 500 letters, but I want to talk about Kody Swanson. That guy is such a beast. I watched him win the Pro 2000 race Friday night from IRP on the Road to Indy YouTube channel and I attended the Night Before the 500 race on Saturday. He dominated the sprint car feature. Someone needs to get him into an IndyCar and the Indy 500 fast. I haven’t seen talent like that in a long time. Do you know of any interest from any of the IndyCar teams for a possible one-off in the future much like Bryan Clauson?
Kris from Kokomo
RM: Other than Ed Carpenter, no owners in the IndyCar paddock have a clue about Kody, but if he brought them a check they might start learning. He’s a helluva pavement racer, just like Bobby Santos, but neither has the kind of backing it takes, and Bryan only got to Indy because of Randy Bernard.
Q: I know your inbox is probably exploding with emails from fans angry about how the Indy 500 ended. I just wanted to say that I think IndyCar made the right call, given the situation.
You hit the nail on the head in your article. To ask the fans and TV partners to wait through 45-60 minutes of repairs for just two-three laps of racing is unreasonable. This decision shows that IndyCar has a steady hand at the wheel. I know that some fans feel robbed and the whole situation was far from ideal, but this is major league racing, not a local short track. The series has to show respect for the time of their viewers and media partners. Ultimately, the fact that we had an Indy 500 at all this year is the real victory. We shouldn’t let how it ended rob that from us.
RM: A good way to finish up the 2020 Indy 500. We had a race and it was entertaining, and R.P. made it happen.