The RACER Mailbag, June 8

The RACER Mailbag, June 8

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, June 8

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Q: I have to laugh at the whines about NBC/Peacock/whatever’s advertisement-laden coverage – try being a fan in Britain where no IndyCar racing has been seen on network TV since 2009. Paywalls, don’t get me started or on my conspiracy theory that F1 buys off every UK media outlet to ban the mention of IndyCar. You need to pay three times to watch the best series in the world: a TV license but then also, a subscription to Sky, then a further pay out for their F1 channel and who wants to watch that crap? Diabolical!

Moan over, here’s the praise: I get my IndyCar fix on my phone listening in to the IndyCar Radio Network. What a fantastic job Mark Jaynes, Davey Hamilton and the team do. There’s an old expression over here regarding radio sports commentaries: the pictures are always better on the radio. They are my lifeline to the series and their ad breaks seemingly don’t consume the huge amounts of time as their television colleagues do. I would be completely lost without them on those Sunday evenings when the races are taking place our time.

Peter Kerr, Hamilton, Scotland

MP: Mark, Nick Yeoman, Jake Query, my old driver Davey, Ryan Myrehn and the rest of the IndyCar radio team are a special group. They’re in my ears when I’m shooting trackside.

Q: I know you have zero connection with NBC, but do you happen to know how we send emails of discontent? I’m thinking the NASCAR folks and the NBC version of Michael Waltrip, Rutledge Wood, need to go. I know why they are there, people know them, but IndyCar deserves IndyCar people.

Dan Schertner

MP: I’m sure there’s an email address somewhere, Dan, but I wouldn’t be the guy to go searching for it when Google can produce the same results I might find.

Q: In a few interviews after the 500, Marcus Ericsson was thanking people (crew, family, friends, sponsors, etc.) he kept including “my long-time backers.” Any idea who/what a backer is?

Chad in Ohio

MP: That would be Finn Rausing, a Swedish billionaire whose name was in the racing headlines last year when he and the Longbow Finance group he’s a part of that owns the Sauber/Alfa Romeo F1 team made things impossible for Michael Andretti in his attempt to acquire the team.

Q: On episode 383 of The Dale Junior Download, Dale asked how to fix Texas given the recent poor racing at the All-Star race. Denny Hamlin responded, “The surface has gotten ruined by the PJ1, I don’t think you can scrape it enough or wash it enough to get that stuff off.” Hamlin went on to comment how they are only using 15 feet of the 100-foot wide track (sounds familiar). Does this spell hope that Texas could repave now that the NASCAR guys are also unhappy with the PJ1? Any news on this front?

David M., Pittsburgh, PA

MP: All great points, but IndyCar did prove, thanks to the select few who went out to put rubber down on the second lane, that more than the low lane can be used. I haven’t heard anything about a repave, but would it make a difference if TMS continues to apply PJ1 at NASCAR’s demand?

Hamlin at Texas. You can tell from his expression that he’s thinking about PJ1. Rusty Jarrett/Motorsport Images

Q: After watching nearly all the coverage for the month of May on Peacock, I could not be more convinced that a similar show to DTS for IndyCar is needed. We have all the personalities, fun stories, and excitement that would make this show do well. So what if it’s a copycat of sorts. It will eventually grow its own identity.

It seems IndyCar is trying so hard to figure out marketing and how to be original. No one seems to know the answer. But if you see something that works, why not try it too? F1 is all about technology and yet the episodes are so much more about drama because that’s what people want. Not fans. The other people. The ones who we want to make fans.

The 500 was awesome. Beautiful day, great racing as a whole, and what an unexpected surprise for a winner. Hearing the crowd roar over the sound of 33 screaming engines was chilling and thrilling. I saw smiles everywhere. I love this sport. Thank God it’s thriving again.
What split?

Erik, Oswego, IL

MP: Either late last year or this this year I broke the news that IndyCar was working on a scripted reality show with a high-power producer whose credits include “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” I hope it sees the light of day. Great to hear you loved the 500. We’re in a good place right now.

Q: I saw a silly season rumor of Alex Palou to McLaren. One might ask how could Chip let him go? Here’s my theory. First, you’ll need a well-fitting tin foil hat. Chip has only one true love, Scott Dixon. Every other driver is to wingman for or garner sponsorship money for Dixie. Well, Alex keeps beating Scott, but doesn’t really carry a big purse. J.J. brings enough money to fund the whole of IndyCar. McLaren spends more on F1 hospitality than on Indy but can’t quite crack No. 1. So a winner outshining CGR’s one and only with no money belongs to a team with money that needs more winning, while Chip wants a No. 2 with cash.

I’ve been drinking, can you tell?

Shawn in MD

MP: I’m jealous, Shawn! Maybe I need to start doing drunk Mailbags. AMSP went after Scott Dixon, unsuccessfully, and Felix Rosenqvist, successfully, so if you’re Chip Ganassi, how excited are you to hear rumors of AMSP going after yet another CGR driver? Palou is said to be under contract through 2024, so there’s nothing for AMSP to take, it would seem. As for Dixie, who know how many more years he’ll continues, but whenever he calls time, Palou would be the one to lead the team for the next 15 years, provided he wants to stay after his first contract is up. If Jimmie wants to continue in IndyCar in 2023, the headlines would suggest Carvana’s big struggles would mean he needs to find another major sponsor.

Q: I have a solution for the closure of pits killing a race needlessly: establish a pit entry line somewhere in the short chute to T4. If you’re under the line at certain marker, you must enter the pits unless an accident in pit lane specifically closes the pits. If a yellow comes out and you have not reached the commit marker, you must stay out or face a penalty. If you have reached the commit marker you are allowed to complete the pit stop because you have committed to it. Safe and clear cut.

As for red flags, IndyCar got it right this time. No artificial extension of the distance that would have required extra fuel, and no stupid racing to the line when you know there’s an unsafe situation on track, but a solid chance for a nearly green-flag finish.


MP: I hear you, Paul, and as much as I hate what happened to Palou, who was my pick for the win, I don’t want to see the Indy 500 become an event where every possible type of risk or misfortune is removed by adding rules each year to prevent whatever happened last year. I’m sure we could load the rulebook with all kinds of protective measures to make sure nothing unfair or undeserved happens, but why would we? It wouldn’t be realistic.

Q: I would really like to know what happened to Santino in the 500. He was consistently in the top six for a long time and ran as high as third and then he seems to have fallen off. Can you explain what happened to his last 50 laps or so?

Oliver Wells

MP: Santino was one of many drivers whose cars lost their balance in the last quarter of the race as temperatures rose. He reported the car became extremely loose, and from there, he was managing a crisis instead of charging forward.