Q: With the news of Oliver Askew’s withdrawal from the Harvest GP, how was he allowed to drive after the 500? And speaking of injured drivers, how’s Robert Wickens doing?
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY
RM: Oliver was monitored by IndyCar and tested before Gateway and Mid-Ohio, but it’s not uncommon that concussion symptoms won’t manifest themselves for weeks. Robert has been going to the races for Arrow McLaren SP as driver coach and ‘continuing to make progress’ is the best way to describe his recovery.
Q: You have probably touched on the push-to-pass subject extensively, but I think the amount of time left to a driver should be an unknown to the rest of the field, and if you have to not show it to the TV audience to keep it unknown, then so be it. Not knowing how much P2P the guy in your mirror has will add to the suspense and anxiety for the drivers ahead with regard to whether they continue to go flat-out, or save the tires and/or fuel. It could lead to much more interesting racing in those final laps. Your thoughts?
RM: I liked the fact they quit showing all the teams because it prevented people from simply watching the computer and warning their drivers when the guy trying to overtake them was using it. I’d much rather go back to that, and maybe let the NBC guys know so they could add a little drama.
Q: I really wish IndyCar would reach out to Michael Jordan and Bubba Wallace. Our racing community is diverse and would welcome them. Why should Bubba put up with that garbage in NASCAR?
RM: I’d say Wallace has been pretty well-received in NASCAR, and he’s a stock car driver so can’t see him wanting to switch disciplines. And it’s great that MJ is involved, but I hear Toyota is driving that bus so there is nothing IndyCar could offer financially to match that.
Q: I thought last year’s COTA race was great, and now I don’t see COTA on the 2021 calendar. What gives? Why can’t IndyCar keep new, exciting tracks on the calendar for more than one year? Texas Motor Speedway and COTA are two completely different tracks, and Texas is a huge state, so I hope IndyCar doesn’t give up on COTA. What’s the problem?
Kelly, McKinney, Texas
RM: What calendar? Neither IndyCar nor COTA have released a schedule for 2021, but I’ve been telling you for months that COTA wasn’t going to host IndyCar next year because of its financial situation. With NASCAR moving into Austin to go with MotoGP and F1, there is no room or need for an IndyCar race that would only cost them money. I imagine it could still happen if IndyCar waived the sanction fee, but it’s a real long shot.
Q: I know it’s talked about a lot, but it finally dawned on me with the leak of NASCAR heading to COTA. Good for the ol’ stock cars, but I do wonder how the racing will be, because it’s been shown they can’t just race anywhere. Sure they can go around anything, that’s not my point – they can’t produce racing everywhere. Hence my revelation: IndyCar can. Save for the power being too much of a restraint issue, you can drop these cars on any form of a circuit and they can and will race well. Again, good for NASCAR and its attempt to broaden its appeal. It may find, though, that the four wheels they got to work with ain’t nowhere near the wheels that sit under an IndyCar.
Pat Jenkins, Columbus, Ohio
RM: Watkins Glen and Sonoma are two of the most entertaining races that NASCAR runs, and COTA should be equally as racy. There is no doubt IndyCar can put on a good show just about anywhere, but stock cars and road courses are a pretty good combination. And I imagine there will be a helluva crowd.
Q:I know Mid-Ohio happened a while ago, but I only watched it last night. It looked to me that Ferrucci’s penalty was to come in and do a routine pit stop. Where was the drive-through or timed stop-and-go penalty?
Jon Perkins, Menifee, CA
RM: “Hi Jon. Thank you for your question. As we have written for these pages before, the Stewards have several penalty options depending on the circumstances and severity of an Avoidable Contact infraction. In this instance, the Stewards assessed an Avoidable Contact penalty to the No. 18 for the incident involving the No.10 and the No. 55 on the opening lap of Race 2 at Mid-Ohio, and as a result, the No. 18 was required to take the subsequent restart from the back of the on-track running order.” Kyle Novak, IndyCar Race Director.
Q: With money being the talk of the town in a lot of series for next year, where do the Road to Indy teams stand, since open-wheel racing is expensive even when well-financed?
RM: It looks like Indy Pro 2000 is just fine (19 regulars this year) and USF2000 has between 20-24 cars at most races, so the big question mark is Indy Lights. Roger Penske said he is working on a plan, so we should know more in a month.