The RACER Mailbag, February 15

The RACER Mailbag, February 15

Insights & Analysis

The RACER Mailbag, February 15

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Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to 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: Regarding your article “Chevy set to make first IndyCar ERS run at Sebring,” if there are supply chain issues with the new ERS — which were meant to fit to spec 2.4L engines — how does staying with the current 2.2L engine not create more problems?

Rob, Rochester, NY

MARSHALL PRUETT: The ERS units were designed to fit the spec DW12 chassis. The 2.4L engines were designed to fit into the DW12 in the same exact way — same mounting locations — as the 2.2L. More problems haven’t been created.

Q: First off, if I was an IndyCar owner I would be pissed off to learn of the latest Leaders Circle deduction. You would think Mr. Penske and company should have announced this last November, but in my opinion they were worried that if they did so, they might affect the car counts for 2023. First the Indy Lights Freedom 100 goes away, then the money reduction, and now the double-points at the Indy 500. Wow.

AE, Danville, IN

MP: I don’t think taking $150K off of each Leaders Circle contract would have changed a thing on the car counts. But keeping all the team owners in the loop would have been nice.

Q: Any word on what’s going on with Nicholas Latifi? All the chatter about a move to IndyCar seems to have dried up. Is the issue that team owners are only interested if he pays for his ride, which his family can do but may be unwilling to do so?

Anthony P, Detroit, MI

MP: Same Latifi who was reported to be joining Ganassi? (Kidding). I have no clue. You are absolutely correct in saying that no IndyCar team would hire him — not when you’re known to not bring a budget and have no results to show that you’re worthy of being paid. If it isn’t IndyCar, it’s a big step down to sports cars and anonymity.

Q: Who do you have for series champ, Indy 500 winner and Rookie of the Year? Has there ever been a better race driver name than Sting Ray Robb?

Brian Henris, Fort Mill, SC

MP: My heart says Will Power becomes a three-timer, but my head says Alex Palou. Alexander Rossi for the Indy 500 (the dumbest, most meaningless prediction in racing), and Agustin Canapino as RoY.

Yes, Rufus Parnelli Jones.

So the 2023 IndyCar champion is in this photograph, but exactly which guy it is depends on which of Marshall’s body parts is doing the talking. Phillip Abbott/Motorsport Images

Q: Can we convince more of the IndyCar teams to follow the process that F1 teams are utilizing to create buzz for the season? IndyCar teams can’t do build-ups around new cars, but they but still can release paint schemes/graphic designs, make team announcements on drivers, team managers, changes in process, etc. because it is a great marketing tool! McLaren’s staggered release of the new design and driver lineup at least gave us something of interest to read and discuss with our IndyCar brothers and sisters.

There is absolutely no buzz around IndyCar other than watching past and current partners fighting to get on the F1 bandwagon. Ford to F1 instead of Indy because of fuel and electrification of the engines… what is Roger waiting for to bring in change? How does Ford to Red Bull hurt Andretti and Cadillac’s F1 hopes? As F1 continues its expansion into America and more and more U.S. sponsors join F1, what will be left for IndyCar? IndyCar needs some creative elements with a tight cap that teams can innovate around to give us something to discuss other than just plan spec racing.

Old Grumpy Fan

MP: I’ve often wondered the same things about the long-running lack of presentation standards between the series and its teams. Arrow McLaren, since McLaren’s arrival, applied its Formula 1 standards to revealing its annual liveries and whatnot, and have owned this space. The sheer lack of coordination between the series and the paddock to help elevate IndyCar’s appeal is yet another head scratcher.

And even when a great young team like Juncos Hollinger Racing goes through a lot of effort to re-imagine its logo and colors and does all kinds of great photography of the cars and team to share with the media, we had another head scratcher. When was that release sent out? On a Saturday, when nobody is looking for IndyCar news in January, about two hours before the start of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, when absolutely nobody cares about IndyCar news because the racing world is focused… on Daytona. So for those who picked up the story, it got posted and quickly buried as hourly race updates and all manner of other content gave it no time to soak. Planning. Coordination. Timing.

Q: We are now within 100 days of the Indy 500. What is the projected car count we can expect to see at the Speedway? Any possibility of a true bump day? Are there any serious one-offs still lurking out there?

Dale, Chesterfield, VA

MP: We’ve got 32 confirmed entries with confirmed drivers, and the 33rd, the second Dreyer and Reinbold Racing Chevy, is happening, but they just aren’t ready to confirm the car’s pilot (RC Enerson’s name is often spoken in conjunction with it). Barring a big-name driver wanting to do the race (Jimmie Johnson, etc.), I think Honda’s done with leases at 17, and that would leave Chevy to pick up any additional entries. The Bowtie’s at 16, so if a third from Foyt or a deal from someone to run a car for Paretta Autosport or another hopeful emerges, it could be a party.

The good news is we’re already at 33. The bad news is we might not have a lot of drama on qualifications weekend.

Q: For those complaining about the lack of engine suppliers in IndyCar, can you please provide a history lesson regarding the engines that were utilized back in the ’30s to the early ’60s? To my recollection, it was the Offenhauser as the vast majority choice of engine back then with a few other manufacturers sprinkled in. Were the complaints just as loud back then than they are today?

James Michener, Albuquerque, NM

MP: Out of curiosity, how would IndyCar’s engine supply history from forever ago have any relevance to today’s series where the rules are completely different and participation — unlike the eras mentioned — is restricted to factory supplies from auto manufacturers?

Q: As of this writing (February 12), the schedule for the GP of St. Pete hasn’t yet been released. Do you know why this is? Just out of curiosity, I took a look to see if the next race (Texas on April 2) race weekend schedule is up, and it sure is. Just seems like it should for sure be out by now, as we are three weeks away from the race itself.

Eric, Mequon, WI

MP: Just checked on February 14 and it’s still not there. No clue.