Q: Hi Robin. How much cheating is happening in today’s IndyCar world? I know that teams have spec cars, but are they pushing the limits on any parts and pieces? “Black Noon” by Art Garner talked about Mickey Thompson’s team trying to qualify the same car twice as multiple entries in 1964, and it would be very interesting to hear what kind of shenanigans are happening today.
Hope you are doing well,
RM: You can’t compare this to the 1960s — unfortunately, this is spec racing. You have to go through technical inspection so many times each weekend that you can’t get away with anything — they even tell you what wing angles to run.
Q: Imagine if Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya were teammates together at Chip Ganassi Racing during the 1996-99 CART golden era of the Reynard-Honda-Firestone combination and both in their prime. Who comes out on top in your opinion, and why?
RM: Montoya. JPM just had that attitude and desire to kick your ass no matter the conditions or whether it was an oval, road course or street course. He had the fastest hands I’ve ever seen. He’d do whatever it took to win.
Q: Hello Robin. First off, so happy to have you back! As a Daly fan, I feel like he’s running out of opportunities. He’s been clearly outpaced by Rinus VeeKay this year. I feel like he needed to at least compete for podiums, if not win to cement a full-time ride for 2022. What’s your take?
Matt K, Niles, MI
RM: Ed Carpenter has given Conor the opportunity to be full-time and yes you are right, he needs some results. But I think Ed’s pretty patient and sees the potential, and it just takes one win to turn around your career. I think Conor has a lot of people pulling for him because he’s got a good personality and talent.
Q: Great to have you and the Mailbag back. Is it just a rumor that Team Penske is talking to Romain Grosjean about possibly taking over Simon Pagenaud’s seat if Simon isn’t re-signed? If Grosjean signs with Andretti Autosport, as is possible, and Simon leaves Penske, then who would be an option for Penske?
RM: I’m saying Pagenaud is joining Meyer Shank Racing as the only other full-time driver with Helio in 2022 (Sato will be at Indy in a third car). I think Grosjean is in demand but it seems like it’s too early for Penske pull the trigger (which means R.P. has already signed somebody). But I’m not convinced Penske wants to run four full-time cars.
Q: Do you think Marco Andretti will ever return to IndyCar full-time?
RM: He seems happier now then he’s ever been, running just the 500, sports cars with his cousin and winning a race in the SRX series.
Q: Hey Robin. I’m so excited to find out that the Mailbag is back, and I hope that you’re doing better. Let’s say you’re starting a two-car team to run the Indy 500 for next year. Which two current drivers would you choose? One driver from IndyCar and one from outside. My personal picks would be Rossi and Larson.
Thanks for doing this, and I wish you good health.
Alexander, from Pittsburgh
RM: Kyle Larson and Colton Herta.
Q: So glad you are back! Stay strong! Who will win the title next year? And give us the new driver next year that will create the biggest pre-season chatter. Hulkenburg? Formula E? Female driver? One of the Busch brothers?
RM: We don’t even know who the hell is gonna win the title this year? Next year??? Way too early to make any predictions for next year. Get back with me in a few months….
Q: Amid all the talk about next year, there’s not one mention about Ryan Hunter-Reay. He has had two very sub-par years. Does that mean that he is through? Also, what do you think’s going to happen to Simon Pagenaud? I’m thrilled that you’re back; been praying for you.
Harvey Payson, Arizona
RM: Pagenaud to Meyer Shank Racing and RHR likely to IMSA. I understand DHL is out.
Q: I see IndyCar is now referring to drivers as “athletes,” which I think is pure B.S. and pandering to the stick and ball people. Drivers are racers, which is a much higher calling than a mere athlete — an athlete could be a tennis player or a bowler for God’s sake. No way should racers be put in the category of athlete. They are so much more. Shame on IndyCar. What are they thinking? Do not lower us to the level of the stick and ball people. As Stroker Ace would say, tell them to kiss our ass. The highest compliment anyone can receive is to be called a RACER!
RM: Best letter of the year. I couldn’t agree more. When IndyCar put out that B.S. release that they are athletes and no longer drivers I nearly puked. We are trying to get people to watch racers at high speeds taking big chances, and you wanna dumb things down and make people think they’re like some person playing a stick and ball sport?