The RACER Mailbag, March 22

The RACER Mailbag, March 22


The RACER Mailbag, March 22

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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: I had a few questions about some of the IndyCar driver/team pairings for this season. First, why did McLaren move Rosenqvist to the 6 and give Rossi the 7? I saw in your McLaren 2023 team preview article that Rosenqvist’s team actually is mostly the same from last year with the exception of Craig Hampton leaving, but I still don’t know why this would necessarily result in a number switch. Second, I was also wondering if it was a personal decision by Marcus Armstrong decision to not run the ovals or if it was a Chip Ganassi decision, and if even Armstrong was OK about doing the full season why they wouldn’t just enter Sato in a fifth part-time car for the ovals.

Josh, Havertown, PA

MARSHALL PRUETT: I think it would be fair to say that Rossi is a long-term solution for the team and Felix is not, so if I were in charge of Arrow McLaren, I’d make the same call and stack team veterans on Rossi’s car. I’ve also heard having Hampson was a condition of joining the team. Both Marcus and Takuma are paying to drive the No. 11 car through their sponsors, and at least for Year 1, Armstrong’s budget was not enough to cover the entire season. I hope he’ll be able to become a full-time player in 2024.

Q: Marshall, are you going to interview the drivers of the Meyer Shank winners of the 24-hour at Daytona? Just would like to know their thoughts.

Barney, Reno, NV

MP: Had lots and lots of conversations with people at the team, and none of those discussions were on the record as that was their preference. I’m confident Mike Shank and I will do a story or video or something when the time is right, but for them, that time isn’t now.

Q: The last two mailbags have had letters about IndyCar’s point system, which compels me to put my two cents in. Several years ago I wrote to Robin Miller about this. Robin had said many times that he didn’t like the system either. So I invented a system that took into account laps led and grid positions but was way too complicated. The system needs to be simple to understand. The current system awards points down to 33rd position. This is fine. I don’t have a problem with everyone getting points but the points given do not reward winners and fast drivers enough for being the highlight of the show. 25th down to 33rd all award 5 points. A driver could win the first race of the season and then be injured by an accident and knocked out for the rest of the season. Another driver could finish last at every race and end the season with more points than the winner of the first race. This is just plain silly!

In my mind the best point system ever used in racing was the system used in F1 during the 1970s and ’80s. 10-6-4-3-2-1 for 1st through 6th. If you want to award points for more positions, it is easy to do with this system. Increase the points by awarding 100-60-40-30-20-10 for 1st to 6th and then award points down to 15th with 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 for 7th to 15th. Based on this system Will Power would not have been champion last year. It would have ended with Newgarden as champion followed by McLaughlin and then Power, 648-568-567.

The current system awards one point for winning the pole, one point for being the fastest driver and 5 points for being an also-ran during the race is just plain silly. The current system awards one point for leading a lap and two points for leading the most laps. This should only apply to green-flag laps. A driver could dominate a race and lead the race almost from start to finish and get three points. While a backmarker could get one lead lap point during a yellow flag during the race winner’s pit stop and get one point. This is silly.

The top 15 system I’ve described could be amended a bit by giving the pole winner 10 points. You could also award grid points down to 6th using that old F1 system. Or award nothing for grid points. Adding laps led points would be a bit more complicated but something equitable could be figured out if it is felt that lead lap points should be awarded.

If we go back over the years and examine how this top 15 point system would have affected previous years, for many years it would not have changed things. Going back to 2008 when the IRL and Champ Car merged, and looking at each year, 10 times the champion would have been the same but five times we would have had a different champion. Interestingly, Will Power would have been champion in 2010 and 2011 but as mentioned earlier would not have been champion last year. The other different champions would have been Ryan Briscoe in 2009 and Graham Rahal in 2015.

These results do not include grid or laps led points. These changes in championship winners are only concerning results that have already taken place. In actual fact, the awarded champion would have done things differently and with this points system may have still been champion. The important message here is that the points system has to reward the drivers and teams that try to dominate.

Doug Mayer

MP: Thanks, Doug. IndyCar’s points system is swiftly becoming the Mailbag’s new weekly LED panel debate.

One team, three winners, but only one can be the champ…so let’s keep scrambling the points system to get the results we want. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: Have the recent rain and storms affected any of the repaving of the Laguna Seca road course? Will it be ready for the IMSA race come May?

Mike Hickman, Beech Grove, IN

MP: Rain has certainly complicated A&D Narigi’s renovation schedule. Last update I got a few days ago is the adjusted plan involves paving after IMSA’s visit.

Q: Updates on Alex Zanardi are few and far between. Are you able to update us on how Alex is recuperating and his current condition? Thank you.

Bruce, Western Massachusetts

MP: Yes, they are. Am I able? Yes. Am I going to defy his wife’s years-long strategy of controlling all aspects of his condition? No.