The RACER Mailbag, May 4

The RACER Mailbag, May 4


The RACER Mailbag, May 4


Q: I know it’s early, but are we potentially seeing Palou emerge as the new top driver at CGR? Dixon is a legend and sitting sixth in points, but he just seems to be consistently behind Palou now. 

Matt, Dallas, TX

MP: In the 16 races they contested as teammates when Palou joined CGR in 2021, it was an even split in race results with Palou finishing ahead of Dixie at eight rounds and Dixie on top at the other eight, and that doesn’t take engine failures, crashes, or anything else into account.

So far in 2022 with no crashes, explosions, or big items to derail either driver, Palou’s been ahead of Dixie in three of the four. Does that mean the six-time champ has lost top gear? Not by any means. Dixie could easily win the next race on the Indy road course and take his second Indy 500 a few weeks from now. But your question certainly warrants being tracked over the rest of the season, because Palou obviously held the edge over Dixie and the rest of his teammates last year. One season doesn’t make for a trend, but if it’s the same story by the time we close this season, it will be hard to argue against a major power shift having occurred.

Q: I have a comment, challenge, and a question for you. First, what a fantastic race in Alabama on Sunday! The top 10 were all over each other all afternoon, the pit strategy was fascinating (how are some of these drivers able to make the overcut work on such worn tires!?), and the technical prowess of the drivers was on display at one of the hardest tracks on the circuit. To top it all off, NBC did a great job on the coverage, always making sure to come back from commercial just in time to focus on a pit window or on-track battle. Well done!

That brings me to my challenge. Us IndyCar fans have got to do a better job of not constantly whining about every little detail of production, social media, or decision made by series leadership. In that vein, I want to challenge you and readers in the comments to name three things you think the series is doing really well at right now. I would say my three are their television deal, the stability of their chassis and engine suppliers, and the way they weathered the pandemic.

Finally, my question. I have never been to the 500, but would like to start making it a family tradition with my children. My oldest is 10 months old; what is a good age to expose kids to IndyCar so that they are engaged and not overwhelmed?

Tyler P.

MP: Easy, Tyler…end the complaining and we kill the Mailbag… IndyCar is doing an amazing job in almost every capacity. They’ve taken some good strides in improving the creativity and volume of their social media offerings by adding more talent to that side of the communications team. The quality of the schedule is remarkable; yes, there are some big gaps between a few rounds, but altogether, the calendar and its diverse challenges are incredible. And I’ll close by praising the overall feeling of security that Penske Entertainment has brought to the paddock which has led to a growth in entries from existing teams and a rising number of new or returning entrants who want to be part of the show.

Hard to say on the right age since every child is different.

Start ’em young. (And Tyler – if it helps, my daughter attended an IndyCar practice day when she was three and did great). Image by Penske Entertainment

Q: The Mailbag’s influence knows no bounds. Maybe you could let NBC know of one small way it could improve life for IndyCar fans? My Sunday was a day of planes, trains, and automobiles after a flight cancellation the day before. No live IndyCar for me, but Peacock to the rescue, right? After a long day carefully avoiding any news about the race, I got home, poured a beverage, and navigated to the Peacock sports page to watch the replay. What is the very first thing on the page but “Highlights: O’Ward wins Grand Prix of Alabama.”

Giving away the result does not seem the best way to attract viewers either to the full replay or to the highlights package. It is not the biggest problem in the world, but maybe Peacock could list its IndyCar content without giving away the outcome therein?

Bob, formerly of Gate 25

MP: I hear you, but I don’t think of NBC/Peacock as a specialist news organization that might lean towards hiding the results of a sporting contest it aired as to avoid spoilers for those who come to watch replays or highlights. Heck, the “spoiler alert” approach and other outlets once used has also gone away since most of the world spends its days living on social media where nothing remains a secret. No doubt what you experienced was frustrating, but I can’t imagine NBC will change its approach to all of its post-event video content — football, elections, golf, etc. — just to cater to those who are actively avoiding to learn the outcomes.

Q: All the current discussions about the weight of the DW12 has me curious about what we might expect as a target weight for the new car/chassis with the extra hybrid weight compared to the current package. Also, besides “a little bit everywhere,” what are the key contributing components that make an IndyCar significantly heavier than an F1 car despite F1 running — by its standards — pretty heavy cars at the moment? 

Be it the aeroscreen or Halo on the new car, I hope there is an effort to make these look more integral to the design. I was surprised that the Halo continues to look like an add-on on the current F1 car despite having a clean slate to work from, and hope IndyCar can do better. 

Second, I’m generally very happy with, and thankful for, Peacock and my IndyCar subscription but the spoilers on the home screen this far into its service is pretty damn frustrating and sure seems like a simple fix. 

I avoided results for the race and qualifying over the weekend and looked forward to watching Barber when I got back in town Sunday evening, only to have Peacock spoil it for me with “Highlights: O’Ward wins Grand Prix of Alabama” displayed on the screen. Mighty frustrating. For crying out loud Peacock, just leave the winner’s name out of the titles. Please already.

George, Albuquerque

MP: I sat down with IndyCar last weekend for a feature on weight and ideas for the next chassis design, so keep an eye out for that in the coming days. Maybe the answer on avoiding spoilers is to have a friend or loved one fire up the TV, tablet, or phone and hit play before you enter the room so the title isn’t seen?