The RACER Mailbag, May 11

The RACER Mailbag, May 11

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, May 11

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Q: The last P2P graphic I saw with one lap remaining at Barber showed VeeKay with 126 seconds left to Palou’s 31 and O’Ward’s 135. If Veekay had nothing for Pato, why not try to overtake Alex starting laps earlier. VeeKay was 11 seconds behind Palou. Seems like a waste of two minutes worth of 50 extra horsepower. Everybody from second position on back should have zero P2P remaining. Your thoughts?

Jeff, Florida

MP: I know most of the lead group, all on two-stop strategies, were having to save a lot of fuel to safely reach the finish line, so I’d suspect it was a button he’d have loved to push but knew he couldn’t.

Q: I attended Barber and while it was announced as a sellout, it seemed like fewer people overall than in the past. What constitutes a “sellout” at Barber? Do they stop selling tickets when they run out of allotted parking spots? Also, a few of the normal viewing areas had signage or team hospitality where people usually sit. Has there been more corporate involvement leading to a reduction of tickets for the public? No complaints, just sharing an observation.

Tulsa IndyCar fan

MP: We’ve been wondering the same things. The track has never responded to my inquiries on maximum capacity, so I can’t say on what’s considered to be a sellout. It was healthy, and took a good while to get out of the circuit thanks to all of the fans leaving, but I can’t recall seeing any of the spectator areas overflowing with people. I think you might be onto something with the parking limiting ticket sales because the lots were full but the trackside viewing sections weren’t.

Q: In light of there being no bumping at Indy this year, I’m wondering about the opposite scenario. What is the record number of qualifying entries in a single year? Is there a resource out there that would show total entries and bumps by year? Any color on the norm regarding entries over time would also be appreciated.

Ray in Indy

MP: According to IMS, 114 entries for the 1984 race was the all-time high, but as is often lost, we aren’t talking about 117 drivers… it’s the spare cars and the spare spare cars that push the numbers up. I wish I had the time to do a historical dive to answer the other questions, so maybe a reader has the info you’re looking for and can share for next week’s Mailbag.

Q: Doesn’t IndyCar have the capability to issue a penalty in real time during a race? One Verstappen in motorsports is enough, we don’t need Verstappen Lite in IndyCar. I kept waiting for them to black-flag Romain Grosjean for hitting Graham Rahal, not once but twice. Is there a good answer as to why this wasn’t punished during the race?

John Furnis

MP: It does. By the time you’re reading this, I hope to have connected with the series — I put in a request last week — to learn more about the non-call and whether IndyCar has concerns about Rahal and others taking the series’ lack of action as a sanctioning of such tactics going forward.

Q: With the success that IndyCar has had at Barber, has there been any interest or talks of maybe going to Road Atlanta or back to NOLA? If it’s working in Alabama it should work in Atlanta.

Arnold Edgar, Danville, IN

MP: I dream of IndyCar adding Road Atlanta, but continue to fear we’d be sending our drivers into outer space with some of the speeds and elevation changes at the Georgian road course. As always, all it takes is for the track to reach out to IndyCar and express an interest and the ability to pay the sanction fee. As for NOLA, heck no. That was a dumpster fire of epic proportions.

NOLA could become the Next Gen Mailbag’s answer to Cleveland. Scott LePage/Motorsport Images

Q: Did Rossi have another bad pit stop to end the race at Barber? Before the final stops he was fourth. He ended up in eighth or ninth afterwards. Was this another case of his team letting go of another top five, or did something else happen?

Chris, Michigan

MP: His second and final stop was about a second slower than most of the front-runners, which didn’t help, but as I also recall seeing, it might have been a tire thing as his used alternates didn’t seem to have the same power-down capabilities as some of those he was battling with. The Turn 5 hairpin was especially unfriendly in that regard, and I also wonder if he was having to conserve fuel. A number of the two-stopper had to take it easy on the loud pedal to get to the finish.

Q: I know that NASCAR specifies the vendor for the wheel guns as well as the nuts, wheels, etc. I would expect IMSA to use the sam. What about IndyCar?

Joel Martin

MP: IMSA does not force its teams to use a specific wheel gun vendor, nor does IndyCar. That said, Paoli is the favorite and it’s used by most teams.

Q: In response to your comment from a writer, the Chaparral most definitely did experience porpoising in both sliding skirt and fixed skirt configuration. With the sliding skirts, I think we just lifted the car a little, then I cannot remember if we used stiffer springs to keep it from getting back down into the porpoising range. But with fixed skirts, which was at Indy, we definitely went with stiffer springs.

My understanding of the Lotus 80 was that the complexity of the skirt shape caused all manner of skirt-related problems, which did not present themselves with straight skirts.


MP: Thanks, Steve.

Q: In reply to Xavier from France, from a 25-year marshal: “Corner numbers,” as you refer to them, are not corner numbers but rather marshal flagging stations.

For safe and secure track operations, marshal flagging stations are assigned… on a corner. Well, yeah. But also, whenever a driver cannot see what he/she is about to hit at high speed. This includes what looks to you like a minor kink on a straight or a small rise in the track where you have no idea what you’re about to whack at high speed on the other side.

The same logic applies to things like double apex corners or extra-long corners. If it requires a marshal flagging station, it’s a “corner.”
On older tracks where they just don’t want to renumber the whole thing at someone’s whim, a new chicane in Turn 12 may be called 12A, for instance.


MP: Thanks for the intel.

Q: Saw you in the Champions Club after the Barber race. You complimented my BadAss Wilson shirt as you passed by. My buddy and I were discussing driver winnings — where does the money come from, what’s the driver’s cut, does every place pay, same for every race except Indy? Any insight?

I’ve worn that shirt every Barber race since I bought it. Every time Robin saw me in the paddock he would stop and we’d spend some time chatting and swapping stories, but you just blew right by on your way to something “important” like the Hamburger and Taco show! Big shoes to fill, Marshall Pruett!

Steve Gaver, Arab, AL

MP: One thing Miller loved was his free time, and trust me, he had plenty of it to use in his later years at the track… holding court with folks at Honda hospitality or in the media center or in the paddock was his favorite thing, so I’m glad you got some time with him.

IndyCar pays a nominal amount of prize money at the events, but most of it is given to the top 22 teams via the Leaders Circle agreements. Same for every race outside Indy, and it all depends on what each driver negotiates to receive.

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