Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: Can we play a game of “what if?” Let’s say Sage, Santino, T.K. or even J.R. (none of whom I’d count out) win the 500. Any of them convert that into a rest-of-season gig?
Shawn in MD
MARSHALL PRUETT: If the prize money for the win comes with an extra $4 million to cover the budget to run one of them, it’s on!
Q: The pit-in location at Indy appears to be around Turn 3. Will that be the same on race day, or will it be right after Turn 4 as in previous years?
MP: Turn 4.
Q: I would like to start a grassroots movement to convince NBC to not cut away from the race to show us Scott McLaughlin’s or Will Power’s or Josef Newgarden’s or Scott Dixon’s or Jack Harvey’s or any other driver’s wife or girlfriend during the last 50 laps.
Where should we direct our correspondence?
Mike, West Coast, USA
MP: Send that to SandyAndrettisbigchurchhat@gmail.com.
Q: I was at the IMSA WeatherTech race at Mid-Ohio and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I was on the opposite end of the track of where the No. 38 LMP3 car stalled to bring out the only full-course yellow. After watching the full race a few days later, I didn’t realize that the car was stalled on the racing surface, borderline on the racing line itself. On top of that, everyone was in the middle of green-flag pit stops and it felt like the IMSA officials waited for everyone else to complete their stops before putting out the full-course yellow. I kept thinking it would be a safety issue should someone come around a corner and run into the stalled car. Could you please explain what officials take into consideration in that situation and do you think that could be a safety issue?
MP: IMSA race director Beaux Barfield, a former driver, tends to lean towards trusting his teams and drivers to apply their smarts and expertise to manage a situation like the one you’ve mentioned. I’m sure that if he felt the No. 38 was in imminent danger, he would have paused the race in an instant. The fact that he didn’t suggests he felt that pre-yellow pit stops would be fine to let happen before intervening. IndyCar tends to act based on a script of predetermined actions. IMSA tends to go with its gut.
Q: I feel like I should know the answer to this, but I don’t. In IndyCar, are the folks over the wall on a pit stop the same people doing all the mechanical work, or are they specialists who just go over the wall? And is it the same for all teams, or do only the big boys use specialists? I see in NASCAR they’ve got ex-football players carrying tires and such, but I’m not sure how it works for IndyCar.
Chris Schaffner, Concord, MA
MP: Two totally different approaches, Chris, with almost entirely full-time crews taking care of the cars and the pit stops. Only on rare occasion will we see a team draft in outside crew, but that’s usually just a case of an IndyCar team pulling in some of its crew from IMSA to help with an extra car.