The RACER Mailbag, April 20

The RACER Mailbag, April 20

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, April 20

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Q: I am a big Andretti Autosport fan. Having said that, over the years has its pit crews and strategy seemed like the Keystone Cops? They seem to never be a match for Penske (few are) or Ganassi.

At Long Beach, it was both strategy and performance. My guess is the team did not use any Push-to-Pass on the in-laps for the first stops, nor did it anticipate that anyone would. Lost 1.0s+ there and then another 1.0s while stopped. I could not believe Herta was leading by a second, and coming out of the pits it was not even close. Assorted other cartoon anvil stuff happens to them – the dropped wheel nut for Rossi.

At some point, it is not a cartoon any longer. Andretti just doesn’t seem to be up with the top teams. Maybe Andretti Autosport spread too thin? There is only so much talent out there.

Jeff Smith, State College, PA

MP: The results speak for themselves, so the best I can offer is that Dale Coyne Racing was once the worst part of Santino Ferrucci’s races because no matter how well he did during his stints, the team managed to lose a ton of positions when he was in their car during a pit stop. Changes were made, improvements were made, and the problem has been largely solved. Same with A.J. Foyt Racing, which has done a massive turnaround in 2022 with the No. 14 car on pit lane.

The Andretti team is loaded with amazing men and women going over the wall. They will turn things around and get back to business.

Q: I found it rather irritating that the Little Caesars/Subway/Supercuts/Metaquest commercial marathon kept being interrupted by the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Please remind me why I’m paying $5 per month for Peacock, especially during these inflationary times, to view what (in my youth) was free network television.

Even more irritating than the sheer number of commercial breaks (which weren’t even side by side format, but actual three-minute commercial “breaks”) is that at least one of those commercials, and sometimes two, were promotions for Peacock… which I’m already paying for. To further my frustration, two of these green flag commercial breaks came back to a race under a yellow flag due to crashes. Why am I paying for this again?

I love IndyCar, but after the 500, I’m cutting the cord (figuratively, since I’m streaming) with NBC (Nothing But Commercials) and will go back to reading about races after they’re over. This is just the kind of double dipping corporate greed – charging a fee to watch commercial television – that drives away fans.

Nick, Locust Grove, VA

MP: I’ll admit, my first reaction was one of jealousy and envy. I long for the day where a voluntary $5 expenditure can make me mad. Outside of all the normal costs of life, for the last three years I’ve had an $1800 bill to pay every month for my wife’s specialized physical therapy. We sure wish it wasn’t necessary, but it is, so I work a ton to keep us afloat. I’m sure the commercials being shown during the races on your $5/month streaming service are frustrating and hope your cord-cutting decision brings happier times.

Q: With a two-month gap between race one and race two in the Indy Lights schedule I wondered why the series does not race at Long Beach. Is it budgetary? I remember Atlantics racing there. Also is R.P. 100% against the Freedom 100? Historically it was a tremendous race nearly every year.

Oliver Wells

MP: Long Beach is never lacking in series to fill its schedule, so it’s not exactly a case of IndyCar informing the promoter that it will bring a Road to Indy series. With R.P. being in charge for the first time with Indy Lights, his approach has been to cut costs, limit big travel expenses, and narrow the focus doing fewer races per weekend. Dispatching Indy Lights to California for a single race would go against everything he’s trying to establish. My first visits to Long Beach came as a crew member in Atlantics and Indy Lights. Amazing times. Yes, R.P. is 100-percent against Lights cars on the IMS oval. The Freedom 100 is well and truly dead.

The Freedom 100 was always worth the price of admission. Especially in 2013, when the race served up a four-wide finish. Image via Road to Indy

Q: With the limited number of tires allocated for a race weekend I’m wondering if teams have ever tried switching them between left and right or even flipping them on the rims to get access to more rubber? Thinking this would make sense for practice rounds and save an extra set of stickers for qualifying and the race.

Maybe this is too extreme with the change in rotation direction, but I switch the sides of my FV club racer’s tires every weekend to try to even the wear and get more life out of them. I don’t ever recall this coming up, but I bet you know the answer!

Rich G, South Carolina

MP: IndyCar tires are specific per corner on the ovals, so that’s not an option. I imagine it could be tried on the road and street courses, but it isn’t allowed, nor would Firestone perform those swaps if they were asked.

Q: Before The Split happened in the ‘90s and IndyCar became more spec, how did chassis and engines and the like get approved? Did CART/USAC have their own formula like F1, or was it something else?

Matthew Houk, Columbus, OH

MP: Yes, CART was its own sanctioning body and set the specifications for the cars and engines that were created from its first season to the last and had their own formula, USAC before that, AAA before that, etc. That first IndyCar formula debuted in 1911. Formula 1’s in 1950.

Q: I have a question about the 33rd entry for the Indy 500. There is always some talk about how there aren’t enough crew guys because of the expansion of full-time entries. But I don’t understand why. There were enough crew guys for 35 entries in 2021, so what’s the reason for there not being enough possible for 33 entries in 2022?

Frank Lehamnn from Germany

MP: A few variations on the same theme, Frank, with a number of full-time teams adding full-time cars and no longer having extra crew to deploy for extra cars of co-entries. Some of the month of May crew members took full-time jobs with teams for those new season-long entries, so the pool of ready-and-waiting veterans has shrunk. And in the case of Team Penske, which is down two entries from 2021 (no Simon Pagenaud or support for Paretta Autosport), those ‘unused’ staff members have been deployed to Roger’s new Porsche Penske Motorsport program.

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