The RACER Mailbag, August 10

The RACER Mailbag, August 10

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, August 10

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Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to mailbag@racer.com. 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: From my point of view Josef Newgarden got away with one in Nashville by driving Romain Grosjean into the wall. If he didn’t drive for Penske, I think he would have been penalized. His comment to Grosjean was “welcome to IndyCar”. That’s a pretty arrogant thing to say. I’m tired of his attitude. Why don’t they give penalties? This will only get worse if they don’t do something.

Paul, Indianapolis

MARSHALL PRUETT: Completely disagree, Paul. I love a good conspiracy theory, but this ain’t one of them. I’d put good money on the root of the Newgarden non-call being who was on the receiving end, not who owns the series and his car. If this was Josef nerfing Palou or O’Ward into the wall, a drive-through penalty gets handed down. It wasn’t just the lateness of his passing attempt, but the shallow angle Josef took that allowed the front of his car to get ahead of Grosjean meant he was aimed at the exit wall more than the corner exit. And in that scenario, the car on the outside is effectively cut off from making it around Turn 9.

Had the pass started sooner and farther away from the corner’s apex, both would have gotten through unscathed. But that didn’t happen. And with Grosjean’s swashbuckling approach to passing earlier in the season and the “deal with it” attitude he displayed when asked about it, I have to believe history and precedent factored into race control swallowing the whistle on this one.

Grosjean didn’t deserve to be walled by Newgarden; past misdeeds shouldn’t always lead to a green light for rough driving tactics, and I can’t say if I recall these two scrapping beforehand. Nonetheless, Josef got the knives out and did what he did. Would IndyCar penalize him at one of the upcoming races if he were to do the same thing to Grosjean? Yes. As I see it, Grosjean received a payback of sorts and now the slate should be clean.

As for Josef’s comments, I loved every single word. He’s one of the smartest and most opinionated drivers in the series, but it’s rarely seen when he’s at work, hidden behind the Penske polish he and his teammates are expected to spew. Give me Spicy Newgarden all day every day over Vanilla Josef. I’d rather have people hate him than have no feelings one way or the other about the guy.

Q: In the article on Alexander Rossi’s penalty, you referenced NBC installing cameras in the cars for the race. Are the teams allowed to install their own cameras for practice or in-cars that NBC does not select?

We’ve seen camera views being adjusted during the race. Who manages that? The NBC truck? Is there such a thing as a “homologated camera” or can they use anything that fits? Do teams monitor cameras during practice or the race, particularly on street or road courses where there aren’t any spotters, or do they use transponder data?

John

MP: All of the in-car broadcast camera feeds are from equipment supplied by BSI, Broadcast Sports, Inc. BSI’s been the vendor for decades, and across all manner of networks. Yes, the NBC truck runs the show and cameras, and for those who aren’t included for the weekend, they are allowed to run the lipstick cameras overhead on the roll hoop, but that’s it. Most crews watch the timing and scoring monitors and broadcast monitors in their pits if they aren’t readying to go over the wall.

No more Mr Nice Guy. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

Q: Before I proceed, I acknowledge and own that what I’m about to share puts me in Boomer territory…

Something has to change with the Nashville circuit. I am fully supportive of holding an event there — it’s a rapidly-growing community that thrives on events, especially those that draw folks from out of town. But holy crap, has it been a struggle each year to carve out time for the race. So many yellow and/or red flags. There comes a point some of us must tap out! I can’t keep going with this. Weather delays are one thing, but yellow upon yellow because cars can’t race your circus? (Purposely phrased that way). Sorry, but no.

Matt Philpott

MP: The part that makes me really sad is there’s some number of new fans in Tennessee who’ve attended their first IndyCar race by going to Nashville and this is what we’ve given them. I’ve loved the WWF/WWE since I was a teenager, but even this is hard for me to accept as “sports entertainment.”
I’m running out of new ways to say “it was a total dumpster fire” since I’ve written or said it dozens of times after the first race was held 12 months ago. We all want the Music City GP to succeed. They just have to find a layout that doesn’t trash half the cars in the field and put IndyCar’s faithful fans to sleep with all the cautions.

I hate football or basketball games where the refs blow the whistle every thirty seconds. Ruins the flow and makes the game feel tedious. This was The Race With 1000 Fouls.

Q: I’ve noticed that many, and maybe even most, cars in various classes of sport car racing have the rear wing supports coming over the top in a so-called “goose neck” configuration. There’s a few teams (e.g. Porsche and Corvette) that have the supports under the wing, as has been done for decades. Is there any performance advantage, whether actual or imagined, for the goose neck version? If so, what is the theory?

It seems that widths of wing supports would be the major factor in disruption of airflow rather than where the supports are placed, unless there’s some advantage in which surface of the wing gets more disrupted or has a “cleaner” surface. The only possible advantage I can think of is that maybe it’s easier to reach over a wing to make adjustments.

Alfred N, Northern CA

MP: Hi Alfred, the “swan neck” designs appeared for the first time in 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, and I’m not sure which one debuted first, but Acura’s new ARX-02s LMP1 prototype and Audi’s new R15 LMP1 prototype rolled out with them in place for the Wheels Down Winter Test I attended.

As former Acura designer Nick Wirth told me that day on pit lane, moving the attachment points of the rear wing pillars from the underside of the wing where the downforce is made to the topside came with a small but worthy increase in downforce. The swan-neck style comes with heavily tapered mounts to smooth the flow beneath the low-pressure side of the wing, so disruption isn’t an issue. Hard to say why others have not followed the practice with their latest cars.

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