Q: Congratulations to Marcus Ericsson on getting his first win. Not taking anything away from that, and I’m always happy to see a Honda win. Now, the”but.” I’ve been a hardcore IndyCar fan for 30 years. I like seeing a last-lap duel as much as anyone. But sometimes, races finish under caution; it happens, we all know it happens. From a pure racing (i.e. non-entertainment) perspective, unless there were safety/track-condition circumstances not mentioned on the NBC broadcast, there was zero reason for that race to be red-flagged with five laps to go. Given the overall conditions and length of run time, just run the last five laps under yellow and call it a day.
I enjoy seeing a Team Penske car and a Chevy car not win just as much as I enjoy seeing my favorite drivers and a Honda actually win. Will Power, Team Penske and Chevy were the best car/team on the day and deserved to win that race. What happened to them is terrible luck, and can be argued should have never occurred. This should put any of those doubters about Mr. Penske controlling the series to his team’s advantage to rest, not that they ever had any legitimacy to begin with.
Chris, Chicago, IL
RM: You had people sit through a 90-minute red flag and then give your TV audience a chance to race to the end, and that’s a bad idea? I guess that was the debate. Power got hosed by a mechanical failure and you feel for him, but if his car restarted, we’re talking about Team Penske’s first win of 2021.
Q: I’m still little upset about Will Power’s comments after the first race. Obviously Power was upset at losing a chance at victory and maybe his current lack of usual success overall. However, blaming the red flag on “certain drivers” who shouldn’t be racing in the series was low. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we can all surmise what big name he may have been alluding too. I didn’t care for Rossi commiserating with him, either. Seems like sour grapes from two veterans who are getting their tails kicked by some exciting young drivers. What are your thoughts on his comments? Do you think The Captain or IndyCar will reprimand him at all? Seems unlikely considering he drives for the boss.
Chris Kulawik, Wheaton, IL
RM: No, you’ve got a driver who just got one of the worst screwing in history responding to an emotional situation — why should be fined or scolded? It’s passion, man, and the heat of battle.
Q: I have watched IndyCar racing seriously for 50 years. And for the past 10 my comments to the Mailbag have almost always been positive. I have consistently praised the series for its close racing and how the rules package and cars allow for any good team to compete for wins. But I am totally incensed at race control throwing a red flag at the end of Detroit race one with five laps to go. Unlike the earlier crash where the wall had to be repaired, there was absolutely no reason to throw a red flag. If the race ends under caution, so be it. Will Power would have earned a hard-fought win. But that finish was manipulated and the officials stole the race from Power. The reason I quit watching NASCAR was because of the green/white /checker, lucky dog, and other gimmicks to get people to watch. If IndyCar throws another red flag this year to keep from ending under caution then it is no longer racing, and I will quit watching.
Rick Schneider, Charlotte
RM: You are not alone in your feelings, and it’s a crucial subject IndyCar needs to address with common sense and the spirit of competition. I understand your frustration.
Q: Santino ran the No. 45 RLL/HY-Vee Supermarkets IndyCar with a dominant Mountain Dew display at the 500, and at Belle Isle a fun “Chester Cheetos” caricature rode along him. In my opinion, each livery seems to overlap both IndyCar and NASCAR marketing. I am high-octane excited about taking my family out to Indy to attend the IndyCar/Xfinity doubleheader at the IMS road course on August 14th! Any chance we might see a driver race in both venues, same day – same track? Maybe Santino with Hy-Vee sponsorship in the No. 45 RLL IndyCar and then again in the No. 26 SHR Xfinity car? What do you think of the concept and the odds?
Norman, Somers, NY
RM: I don’t know, but I like Ferrucci and I hope realizes his career is in an IndyCar and not being lost in the stock car shuffle.
Q: Hats off to Firestone for getting the tires exactly right in Detroit. It made for two fantastic races – Saturday was rough, obviously. I’m glad Rosenqvist seems fine.
I have a question about Rossi. He drove really well over the weekend but had a bit of bad luck. This season seems like the toughest, deepest field since the heyday of the late ’90s CART grids. Everyone puts out an optimistic vibe at the start of the year, which is completely normal and expected. But Rossi in particular seemed to put out a vibe that they were going to storm through this season and win the title. I forgot how he phrased it but it was something to the effect of “championship or bust.” As you correctly called, we’re on our way to having 10 or more winners this year.
My view from the couch isn’t the best to judge, so I write this respectfully. Rossi’s Andretti squad stumbled a bit at the beginning and it seems like they’ve been making mistakes out of frustration ever since. Do you think the team, especially Rossi, put too much pressure on themselves?
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: I think all good drivers and teams relish pressure, but Alexander just seems to be mired in one of those continuing Catch 22 situations. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to drive or lost any of his inner fire. He did say title or nothing, but that’s how he felt.
Q: It’s a shame to see a champion like Jimmie Johnson embarrass himself in IndyCar (on top of that not running ovals, which is his specialty). I know that he attracts sponsors and fans. Please give me your take on this.
RM: I think he improves every time he drives. Check his practice and qualifying times, and the fact is, he has closed the gap. Sounds like he’s going to run the Indy 500 in 2022, and that’s where he will excel – just like Kurt Busch.