The RACER Mailbag, November 9

The RACER Mailbag, November 9

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, November 9

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Q: In IndyCar’s aeroscreen era we only have the nose cam, the roll hoop, and the driver-facing camera inside the aeroscreen, and it seems like there are other options that would be nice occasionally.

At the early 2020 test at COTA they had an over-the-shoulder cam that I’d love to see at future events. I’ve seen some historical footage with that angle as well. They also used a helmet cam that seemed a bit too low, but maybe they could use an inside-the-visor cam like Brad Keselowski used at Martinsville?

Any chance of these two camera placements getting used in the future?

Mike, California

MP: Been wondering about the same thing, Mike. The over-the-shoulder angle has always been amazing — I first remember it from mid-’80s F1 broadcasts, and it never fails to impress. I’d hope that and/or a return of the visor cam returns. The aeroscreen complicated that helmet-mounted sight lines, but it can be done if NBC and IndyCar want it to happen.

Q: With the news Jimmie Johnson is driving for/co-owning a Chevy team in NASCAR next year, it sounds like his IndyCar options are limited for 2023.

He’s said he wants to do a “handful” of Indy races next year, but Penske and AMSP are full, Andretti has five cars for Indy and four for the regular season, ECR has its two drivers with Ed Carpenter presumably driving a third, leaving sharing Juncos’s second seat or a third Foyt car as his only other options. Unless he can convince D&R to run some races outside of the 500 (also unlikely), it feels like his newly-found Chevy connections have locked him out.

Is this the end for Jimmie Johnson in IndyCar, at least until 2024 at the earliest?

Trixxy, UK

MP: Chip Ganassi Racing has a fifth entry for Jimmie to use unless he opts against it, and from what I’m told, no conversations have been held so far about Jimmie being unable to race in whatever he wants for the Indy 500. I’d like to think the rules for mandatory manufacturer alignment (say, Chevy-powered Hendrick driver Kyle Larson needing to find a Chevy-powered Indy seat) would be different than for a seven-timer like Johnson who just made his Indy 500 debut in a CGR Honda, who has the clout to call his own shot.

For those who recall, Kurt Busch’s Indy 500 debut in 2014 with the Honda-powered Andretti Autosport team took place while he was a full-time Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet driver in Cup, so brand alignment is great, but not necessarily a must in every case.

If it isn’t the Indy 500 or some other oval that Jimmie can’t live without, I don’t think we’ll see him back in the series.

Too early to say whether Jimmie Johnson has walked through the IndyCar exit door for good, but it’s safe to assume he now has bigger priorities. Motorsport Images

Q: I have two questions and one comment regarding current IndyCar racing.

When watching pit stops, I notice that the front tire changer sometimes appears to turn a lever or knob at the top of the front wheel fairing. Is this my imagination or is there an adjustment knob there? If so, what does the adjustment do?

Are the racing flags tethered to the starter’s arm in the flag stand? I never see any sign of a tether or strap, but I can’t imagine racing would risk dropping the flag during a start or restart leading to impeding the vision of a driver or ingestion into an intake.

I agree with those who say that the qualifying clock should stop during red-flag periods during IndyCar qualifying. Each of the qualifying sessions aren’t that long, and drivers should get the full allotment of time to make their best run. I don’t see where it would significantly impact timing for TV coverage, but I’d rather see the fastest drivers up front instead of it being a matter of luck and whether they got their best run in prior to a red flag stoppage. Just one fan’s opinion.

Brad, Powder Springs, GA

MP: Thanks for sending this in Brad. You don’t need to visit your optometrist. On road and street courses, you’re seeing the left- and right-front tire changers twist threaded rods which have attachments to the uppermost wing elements. Twist those clockwise and it will raise the upper elements and increase downforce. Twist in the opposite direction and downforce is reduced. On superspeedways, it’s a different deal where there’s a single adjuster in the middle of the nose which raises or lowers the entire main wing element.

Drivers are always search for the perfect chassis balance to suit their driving style, and during a race, there are two external adjustments their teams can make to help. The first is with front wing angle adjustments; if the driver feels the balance of the car is too much to the rear, adding some front wing angle/downforce will place more weight on the front tires and offer better balance. And if that driver feels there’s too much weight at the front of the car, that can be alleviated by reducing front wing angle/downforce and shifting it to the rear. The second team-based adjustment that can be made is with tire pressures, where slightly adding or reducing the inflation of the front or rear tires has the same effect of moving the balance forwards or backwards.

On flags, I haven’t seen tethers in place. Seems like one of those things that would be done if there was a practical reason for it like dropping the flags on a regular basis, but since we don’t see that happening, there’s no need.

Q: After being an open-wheel fan for decades and attending all of the Long Beach F1 races, as well as the F1 race at Indy, I think my run is over. I was very close to going to Miami but the cost of tickets and lodging was prohibitive. The Vegas release this past week was, well, a joke. Mind you $500 for three days I could live with, but with no seat?

Liberty has done one heck of a job with the series, however the lure of the almighty buck has turned off many real fans. Hopefully IndyCar (which has always been priced reasonably) is able to get a new chassis and engine supplier and grow even more.

Peter Carey, San Bruno, CA

MP: I understand where you’re coming from, Peter. Like you, I could not afford to attend Miami, COTA, or Las Vegas as a fan. Factor in the ticket prices, flight, hotel, rental car, and whatever else to spectate at a domestic F1 race for three days, and I’d need to take out a 10-year loan to pay for it all.

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