The RACER Mailbag, March 16

The RACER Mailbag, March 16

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, March 16

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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. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.

Q: I’m somewhat relieved that the IndyCar Series decided to push using the hybrid engines until 2024, because I feel that the current chassis that it is currently using would be putting the driver at risk at some of these ovals. They need a new chassis that would differentiate from the previous IndyCar chassis from the past. They don’t have to look like Formula E chassis, but something that almost looks like the turbine. Also, you may not like the idea of borrowing Formula 1 rules but they should consider using DRS in IndyCar since push to pass usually gets abused by the lead driver. 

Alistair, Branson, MO

MARSHALL PRUETT: I think everyone would agree that launching a new hybrid engine formula would go well with an all-new chassis, but that just isn’t the case, Alistair. Some teams don’t want the added expense, and most of all, IndyCar has given no indicator so far that it plans to put a new car in play for 2024. If we get the full 100hp ERS boost via push-to-pass, that should make for some serious speed disparities that would bring added drama to the straights and braking zones.

Q: You have mentioned a couple times now that Rossi gambled and stayed out at that first caution at St. Pete, but that’s not the case according to the Andretti Autosport website:

“Rossi showcased his knowledge of the street course gaining position after position at the drop of the green flag. The only caution of the race gave the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda an edge as Rossi was called to pit seconds before pit lane closed for the yellow flag. This allowed Rossi to lead the field for 10 laps. But in his final pit stop the front left tire wouldn’t budge. Though the crew finally removed and changed the tire the extra time in pitlane would end Rossi’s fight for the front.”


MP: Brother, you are welcome to believe whatever you want. All I know is when I rang to ask Andretti’s COO on how that went down, he said it was an intentional call to leave him out.

Q: How many of the 26 full-timers are on good solid funding? Are any cars on a race to race situation where they hope the funding comes through in time for the next race?

Ron, Toronto

MP: I’ve heard of one full-timer that has quite a few races that await one-off sponsorship deals, and a few others that have two or three races to sell. I’m not concerned about any of them being lost from the field as a result of those needs.

Q: In last week’s Mailbag you asked about sending in some of the displays at Hy-Vee. I have some of this year’s attached from one of my local (Quincy, IL) stores. I didn’t see one this year, but last year there were also cardboard cutouts of both Graham Rahal and Santino Ferrucci. Some stores may even let you have one when the promotion is done, like the one hanging in my cubicle at work.


MP: Score! So what do your cubicle mates ask the most? Is it if you’re a racing fan, Mountain Dew fan, or can’t live without fiery Cheetos burning your backside?

We got a great response to last week’s call for photos of Hy-Vee IndyCar in-store sponsorship activations. If shots like this are any guide, it’s apparently impossible to buy heavily processed pastries anywhere in the Midwest without bumping into a cardboard Dallara. And that’s a good thing. Image by James Cox

Q: Since you seemed interested in Hy-Vee’s IndyCar-based advertising, I thought I should mention that they’re also running commercials with Jack Harvey here in Wisconsin. They have some on-track footage of his car at speed in black Hy-Vee livery. It’s also on their Facebook page titled “Commitment to Excellence”.

John from Madison

Q: Quite a bit of Hy-Vee Indy promo in the Rock Island, Illinois store. Plus music line up for Iowa has big names.

Jim Cox

MP: We clearly need to help Hy-Vee expand out to the coasts like 7-Eleven, turn those profits into title sponsorship — the Hy-Vee IndyCar Series — and make our beloved open-wheel championship a household name again after half the population becomes indoctrinated with IndyCar signage while buying their energy drinks and donuts on the way to work each morning. A guy can dream, right?

Q: I know, I know — it’s another “why don’t we race here” or “why don’t we race there” question for the Mailbag. But before you dismiss it as such, hear me out — this is a legitimate question. Why do we continue fighting Texas Motor Speedway politics, weather and grip when there is a perfectly acceptable racetrack sitting idle right in the heart of IndyCar country? Kentucky Speedway! It matches Texas in length and comes pretty close in design (slighter wider and not quite as banked). It used to host spectacular IndyCar races. What is the behind the scenes reason we can’t go there instead? We’re sitting around waiting for the demise of the TMS contract, so hopefully the decision makers are working on future plans to maintain another high-speed oval race. Seems to me, Kentucky might just be the answer.

Brian Seidenman, Mason, OH

MP: Back when I was a team member in the Indy Racing League, we went to all kinds of 1.5-milers, and of the many, I did enjoy Kentucky. And since we posted the story on Monday about IndyCar searching for ways to make Sunday’s race something other than a single-lane snoozer, the reaction from a lot of folks has been similar to yours: Say goodbye to TMS and hello to something similar at a different facility. I’m torn on this one. Having been there for its first IRL/IndyCar race and seen a lot of amazing action, I do hope the series can find a way to make the PJ1-coated lanes usable. My mindset is to try and fix the problem first, and if it isn’t possible, then move on. I’d love to see the “old” TMS return when we go racing this weekend, but if it’s no different than the last ones that were ruined by the PJ1, IndyCar needs to take its show elsewhere.

Q: I know winning drivers receive a ring. How about team members? Do they get rings?

Pete Jenkins

MP: It’s customary for the winning team to buy rings for the winning crew and as many of the key contributors they decide to include. On a related note, we did a story last year on how Mike Shank surprised Conor Swan with a ring after Helio became a four-timer with MSR that you might enjoy.