The RACER Mailbag, March 2

The RACER Mailbag, March 2

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, March 2


Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t guarantee that every letter will be published, but we’ll answer as many as we can. Published questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Q: This is something I’ve noticed over the past few years of watching IndyCar. Whenever a journalist from NBC or wherever is interviewing a driver or owner or chief, they never say thank you when they’re done interviewing the – they immediately switch to a comment directed toward the broadcast team. It makes for the most awkward transition, because the viewer can tell that the interviewee isn’t sure whether they’re done. In other sports it’s usually “Thanks, Coach” then some comment. Is this just something with motorsports journalists or NBC?

Matthew, Columbus, OH

MARSHALL PRUETT: My guess is that when we do our in-event interviews, it’s as the race is taking place, not during a quarter or halftime break where there’s no action taking place. It really isn’t the time for hellos and goodbyes and whatnot when you have radio chatter in your ear and six different screens to monitor, so I’ve never thought of the strictly-business interview style to be out of place. What you don’t see is what takes place quite often after the director cuts away, and that’s the interviewer giving the interviewee a thumbs up, a dap, or a thank-you as they pull away and wander down to the next pit box.

Q: I have one of the free versions of Peacock and I was sitting around with not much to do so I thought I would see if they were offering the second practice at St. Pete for free. They were not, but I found out that they were offerin – for a limited time, of course, up to 12 months of premium free depending on which cable service you use. You have to register a credit card, but you can cancel at anytime. So that means you can get the entire season for free plus all the other programming they have. Worth a look, for sure.

Tom in Waco

MP: Tom! IndyCar fans in need of Peacock, go forth, be fruitful, and register.

Q: Let’s say Andretti gets this F1 deal done, and Gainbridge is a major sponsor. Should one Mr. Zach Veach expect a bigass ‘thank you’ gift basket from Michael?

Matt Philpott

MP: If Zach isn’t invited to do the Young Drivers Test, I’m going to stop supporting Andretti Global and spend all of my money on USF1 merchandise. Kidding aside, I saw Mr. Veach last weekend, who was in town to drive the two-seater and told me he’s doing 15 sprint car races this summer. I love that guy.

He’ll be taking selfies in front of a sprint car this summer. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

Q: I’d like to share a positive note regarding one of the newer sponsorships in the IndyCar circuit.

I live in the Kansas City metropolitan area and stopped by a recently-refurbished Hy-Vee grocery store yesterday – and thought I was magically transported into a grocery in Speedway during May! The entire store was decorated with promotional materials for the No.45 Hy-Vee car, Jack Harvey cutouts, and posters advertising the Iowa race that Hy-Vee is sponsoring later this season. Even better, I engaged in conversations with a handful of the store employees and they were all able to speak to some level of the sponsorship, telling me they’ve been trained to enhance the visual promotion materials.

It was such a pleasant surprise, and even though I have two competing grocery stores within a stone’s throw of my house, I will be making the longer trip for my groceries and be a regular visitor to Hy-Vee.

John, Lee’s Summit, MO

MP: Yes! This is how it’s supposed to work. Thanks for sharing, John.

Q: On a lot of IndyCar broadcasts, or racing in general, mental mindsets are a big topic, whether it’s focusing on the next lap and pushing mistakes out of your mind, or not letting crashes rattle yu. Physical talent is one thing, but it seems like cooler heads prevail.

Drivers are certainly under a lot of pressure, with needing sponsorship dollars and having to perform to keep their careers going. I would assume the anxiety and highs and lows are a lot to push through.

Where do drivers get their mental training? Do they use dedicated mental coaches? Is there a specific program or philosophy drivers prescribe to?

Chris Kulawik, Wheaton, IL

MP: I don’t know how many drivers are working with mental/performance coaches, but I hear it spoken of more frequently than it was just a few years ago. Simon Pagenaud might be the most well-known driver who openly speaks about the use of such a coach but, since he’s a competitor, he tends to stop short of naming the person…

Q: How about a pat on the back for my man Kyle Kirkwood? He qualified 12th and ran a clean race, bringing the car home a respectable 18th and on the lead lap. Considering that was his first IndyCar race and the level of equipment he was driving, that’s not a bad result at all. 

I think Kirkwood could easily become the next big American star of IndyCar, especially if Colton Herta jumps ship for F1 in the near future. And honestly, I think it would be a great success story for IndyCar. After all, Kirkwood earned his way into IndyCar by dominating the Road to Indy like no one before him (ahem, unlike a certain Andretti driver). That’s a story I can get behind.

Garrick, Huntsville, Alabama

MP: He was part of the three-stopper brigade who were torpedoed by the timing of the one and only caution. Remove that from his day, and he’s leaving in a happy place. Kyle spent a decent chunk of the race right behind Josef Newgarden, matching his pace in a team that has no business keeping up with Penske’s two-time champ. Plus, he’s a great kid. IndyCar is in safe hands once the new generation takes over.

MX-5 Cup | Round 12 – VIR