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: It’s blatantly obvious that Alex Palou needs to fire his manager, legal team and PR crisis people. Whomever he is getting career advice from has only helped to do one thing — further derail his career and even ultimately destroy it.
I have read forum posts and watched vlogs where people have raised the idea of Chip Ganassi not releasing Palou and allowing him to drive anywhere in 2023 to screw him over for his comments about his current employers. Then when 2024 rolls around, Palou could be pursued by Arrow McLaren SP or whomever else.
Do you see a scenario where Ganassi pays the minimum amount for 2023 to Palou and keeps him sidelined for the season and putting contracted relief driver Ryan Hunter-Reay in that ride?
Also, the way Felix Rosenqvist answered media questions following Toronto seems to hint that AMSP’s original idea was to have Alexander Rossi, Palou and O’Ward in IndyCar and Felix in Formula E. Now that there is a snag, do you think AMSP would be a three-car team in IndyCar next year?
MP: That’s the scary scenario I’ve written about a few times, David — if Chip “wins” the war over Palou, does Alex spend the next year or two on paid leave? There’s a similar question later in the Mailbag that broaches the topic of his managers, so I’ll jump to the last question. Yes, cars, equipment, and everything else to go full-time with three entries is happening. The only question is who will drive the thing.
Q: Not really a question but I did want to extend recognition and congratulations to Marco Andretti on winning the SRX championship! The series just finished its second year and I really enjoyed watching the Indy and NASCAR racers go at it. I was at the Stafford Springs race and what a great show that was. The battle was up front for all the race!
Norm-Bob, New Bloomfield, PA
MP: I love seeing Marco smiling and free. He might have all the toys and trappings life can offer, but none of that stuff fills you up from the inside. He looks as content as I’ve seen the guy, and that makes me happy.
Q: We long-time race fans know that many drivers were superstitious about green cars. I know Jim Clark won Indy in ’65 in one of Colin Chapman’s green Lotuses. But I’m thinking it wasn’t the first green car to win Indy. Straighten me out, please.
MP: Other than the ’65 winner you mention, my pal Paul Kelly from IMS says “Gaston Chevrolet in 1920 in the No. 4 Monroe Frontenac.”
Q: Watched Iowa 1 with several people that were new to IndyCar. After hearing constant talk from the drivers and broadcasters about the tires wearing out they asked towards the end of the race why Firestone couldn’t build tires that would last. Without explanation from the broadcast team, that does a great disservice to Firestone. Perhaps some discussion about why the tires are designed to wear down, maybe including someone from Firestone, would be helpful.
Chip from Naples, FL
MP: Firestone is more than capable of making tires for Iowa that are harder and more durable, but they’d slide across the track surface and lead the drivers to tip-toe around the oval at unimpressive speeds the entire time.
So the compromise is to go with softer tires that provide exceptional grip that lasts about halfway through each stint before the track surface — with the high G loading in the corners — acts like a cheese grater to the tire’s carcass and wear and grip becomes a major issue to manage. The latter half of the stints when the cars are a handful is where heroic performances are seen by some and others are begging to be called into the pits. I prefer the way it’s done now by Firestone — makes for rising and falling fortunes every year.
Q: You remain all over the Palou situation, which is fascinating but maybe for all the wrong reasons. What does IndyCar think of all this, or is any news good news?
Has the series looked at doing more to reduce the marbles created by today’s tires? Apologies for asking a stupid question, but could Dallara add some aero bits under the trailing or leading edge of the underwing to produce high pressure airflow out of the sides, potentially pushing marbles away? With 26+ cars on the track, using the airflow as a sweeper might be possible, but low-speed corners would still suffer.
Just waiting for the second race at Iowa, and Saturday’s race was pretty good. I hated the old 1.5-mile tracks, but Iowa and Gateway seem to have some great racing… as did (apologies Mr. Miller) Milwaukee back in the day. I think the downforce levels at Iowa make for some great racing, so hopefully the series could find another Hy-Vee to help at some other viable venues,
And finally, we’ll be making our way over from Ohio for the GP next week, though I agree a second race there is a little odd. I wish there was a way to do a double in Wisconsin. Friday at the Milwaukee Mile, one day event, with RC aero package. Then Sunday at RA. Crazy, or…?
MP: IndyCar doesn’t comment on stuff like this, but rest assured that nobody is happy or celebrating this counterproductive issue.
The creation of turbulence coming off the cars is what adds to difficulties in passing, so I would imagine IndyCar would avoid ruining its races by turning its cars into 750hp leaf blowers.
Sign me up for the Milwaukee-to-Elkhart caravan.