The RACER Mailbag, April 20

The RACER Mailbag, April 20

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, April 20

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Q: At race like Long Beach, how do IndyCar and IMSA share the pit boxes? Do they have to take down their pit stands and equipment after each session? Also, when a driver gets a trophy, do they have to give it to the team?

Geoff

MP: All depends on the event, but in general, you’ll see IMSA teams (or similar) slide in for practice sessions with their equipment towed onto pit lane and towed away after the session. Long Beach is so narrow behind the pit wall, it’s not possible to stack a full set of IMSA timing stands and whatnot behind the IndyCar setups, so we see IMSA teams place their equipment farther down pit lane past the IndyCar pits. At Detroit, there’s enough room behind the pit wall so we have IndyCar teams break down their setups, move them back prior to IMSA’s Saturday afternoon, give way to the IMSA teams, and return after the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race to move everything back into place.

Q: One of your readers recently asked about a shuttle to IMS for the 500. Received this link from the Speedway.

F Melkey

MP: Thanks!

Q: Although I was never a J.J. fan in NASCAR, I have wished him well in IndyCar. He seems like a great guy. Since his start in the series, a procession of rookies have come in and done well. I was happy about his performance at Texas. I just can’t understand his failure on street and road courses. When does it become an issue? So many crashes, and on-track issues besides performance. When do they pull the plug?

Tim B.

MP: The answer to topics like this always come down to who is in control, and since Jimmie brought Carvana to the team and is the central figure in how the No. 48 car is funded, the only person to pull the plug would be Jimmie. And since he’s enjoying himself, despite having a horrible weekend in Long Beach, there’s nobody outside of Mr. Johnson who can or will dictate when he stops driving the car before his two-year contract concludes in September at Laguna Seca.

Q: Just have to say that I have gained a lot of respect for Jimmie Johnson this season. I know a lot of folks like to poke fun at him in the Mailbag, but seriously, give the man some respect. He doesn’t have to do any of this and certainly doesn’t need to do it for the money, yet every week, he goes out there and puts in the work. Breaks his wrist on Friday at Long Beach, comes back and keeps racing. Then, after a hard weekend, flies across the country for immediate surgery and back in the Chevy simulator on Tuesday! Jimmie Johnson and Carvana are doing something for IndyCar that hasn’t been seen in a long time – advertising!

Now that Jimmie is racing full-time rather than sharing the ride with TK, does TK have any races in IndyCar left after the Indy 500? Really wanted to see TK have a legitimate shot at another Indy 500 win or two before he hangs up the steering wheel.

Stephen in Seattle, WA
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MP: We’re on the same page with Jimmie. The easiest move to make would have been to step aside and let my French Fry jump into the No. 48 car. Instead, Johnson gutted it out and sent a message that he’s willing to make however many mistakes it takes to get to where he wants to be.

Outside of CGR this May, I don’t know of other quality teams holding a seat for him, but hope to learn more about his options next time we speak.

Johnson took his share of lumps at Long Beach, but wowed some fans with the way he soaked them up. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Exactly how did that wheel nut land in the radiator of Pfaff Motorsports Porsche? Did it come out of the wheel gun? Was it struck by a tire? You hate to see that happen, but someone on the Corvette team needs to buy a Lotto ticket or head to Vegas. You couldn’t pull that off if you tried 100,000 times.

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

MP: Flew out of the gun, I’m told. You might enjoy the photo sequence LAT’s Mike Levitt caught.

Q: So it’s the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. As you reported earlier, Toyota doesn’t intend to enter IndyCar any time soon with the TRD badge. So when are we going to see the announcement of Acura as the third engine supplier?

Jim, Indy

MP: I love your way of thinking. All we need is GM to announce the return of Buick to IndyCar, and Honda to announce it was adding Acura and we’ll have two engines badged as four unique brands. And if/when Toyota joins the party, we’d have six as GR and maybe the shuttered Scion brand could be assigned to the cam covers.

Q: Marshall, did you have an opportunity to visit with Evi Gurney when you were down for the Long Beach Grand Prix? If so, any update on the Dan Gurney autobiography? We’ve been hearing for several years now that she’s going through photos. Will this book ever be published?

Rick Johnson, Lynnwood, WA

MP: Well, I feel especially stupid, as yes, I spent an hour or two at AAR and was invited to sit with the Evi and the Gurney family at the RRDC dinner honoring Rick Mears but didn’t think to ask about the book’s progress.

UPDATE: AAR’s Kathy Weida got in touch after this week’s Mailbag went live to say that the written portion of the book is finished, but the photo selection process continues. Dan’s sons Alex and Justin are working on that part with publisher Ed Justice as they have time.

Q: I’ve forgotten why teams are required to run both the red and black tires in races. With the big buildup of rubber at Long Beach, it looks like not requiring the reds would have kept the track in much better condition outside of the main groove. Is any consideration being given to letting the teams run the tire they prefer without having to run both kinds in the event? Thanks for the great coverage of IndyCar!

Ricky Krisle

MP: Just an added layer of strategy and complexity, Ricky. IndyCar is built on mastering a diverse array of challenges at a series of tracks unlike those tackled by any other championship, so extending the challenge to mastering two types of road/street course tires fits the series’ character. Also, if we were to go down the path of letting teams ignore one type of tire, Firestone would not be open to wasting their time and money on the unused option and would likely stop production on one of the two, leaving IndyCar teams with a single solution.

Q: During the Long Beach race, the announcers said that portions of the Long Beach track had been coated with a material that increased grip. Could the same product be applied to Texas to overcome the NASCAR coating issue?

Bill

MP: Anything is possible, but the main issue here has been Texas Motor Speedway’s devotion to doing whatever NASCAR wants, and since NASCAR wants PJ1 applied to the lanes above the bottom groove, that’s what IndyCar has been forced to deal with in recent years. Applying another gorm of goo to the track surface for IndyCar feels like it would add another problem to deal with.

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