Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to mailbag@racer.com. 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’m writing this from Turn 1 at Long Beach. The vibe from the crowd is insane. The IndyCar chassis may be old, but the public still love the races.

By the way, the positive reception of IMSA is getting bigger and bigger. This weekend is special, as always!

Daniel, Brazil

MARSHALL PRUETT: The racing is almost always great. That’s never been a problem with the Dallara DW12 chassis. IMSA’s on a continual rise. I’m so happy to see the series attracting the love it deserves.

Q: Long Beach. What a race, especially the last 10 laps. I don’t care what kind of engine is under the hood (as long as it sounds good, of course), or how old the chassis is, that was a great, nail-biting race.

Jim Hannon, Mount Sterling, KY

MP: Like you, I love a good dueling strategy race like the one we got with Dixon on fuel-saving, Newgarden on fuel-burning, and Herta and Palou on a charge and keeping Newgarden on his toes. It was nothing like St. Pete where almost everybody was locked into fuel saving and the drama was missing altogether.

Q: The Long Beach race just finished but I had to comment on the hysterical complaints from Josef Newgarden and Tim Cindric. Newgarden – if that isn’t a penalty, nothing is. Cindric – anybody can take anyone out of a race. Then Newgarden confronts Herta post race. He claims he got lifted up. I didn’t see it, nor did the announcers.

One incident comes immediately to mind: Newgarden doing a dive bomb on Romain Grosjean and punting him into the wall at Nashville. In that case, Newgarden wasn’t beside Grosjean yet, I didn’t hear any apology or an acknowledgement that the move was ‘slightly’ optimistic. Newgarden’s comments are B.S. and the Penske driver appears to believe his poop doesn’t stink. Newgarden is a great driver but loses respect in not acknowledging that **** happens in races that isn’t a penalty. Finish the race then discuss the matter when the emotions aren’t so high. Dumb move.


MP: Not sure I saw anything that qualified as ‘hysterical’ from Josef or Tim. Josef was hit by Colton, who acknowledged the mistake, and the back of Josef’s car was lifted up and did go into anti-stall mode, which left him sitting idle for a few moments where he lost two positions. Through no fault of his own, he went from second to fourth, and his hunting of Dixon and a possible win were taken away. I’d be pissed if it happened to me, so I wouldn’t expect Josef or his boss to react in a different manner.

Q: Do you have insight as to why IndyCar merely shows the time (seconds) behind the leader of the race, rather than between cars (as F1 does after a few opening laps)?

I would suggest that it’s far more interesting to know that P12 is 0.453s from P11 than it is to know that P12 is 45s from P1. Of course, one can do the rough math, but it would be so much easier to do it F1’s way.

This allows one to scan the pylon to look for close racing and to follow incremental gains and losses in each fight. I cannot tell the difference between 0.453s and 0.552s via the video, but the fact that the delta is expanding and contracting is interesting.

Gerry Harrison

MP: It’s been their practice for a while now. These are the graphics chosen by NBC. NBC doesn’t broadcast F1, nor do they want to be seen as copying what people see coming across on ABC/ESPN.

I’d love to see them copy everything we see with F1’s graphics, but I just do the math in my head (scary, I know) when I watch IndyCar.

Q: Please educate me on why there is a drive through when Pato O’Ward hits Alex Palou’s car, but Colton Herta doesn’t get one for hitting Josef Newgarden? Also, what is the anti-stall for and what does it do?

Steve Coe, Vancouver, WA

PS: Thanks for explaining what it would take to get Robert Wickens into an IndyCar.

MP: I wish I had the answer, Steve. I would have been fine with no penalty for O’Ward, but since one was given, a precedent was set and it needed to be adhered to with Herta. I explain anti-stall in my post-race column, which should be going online shortly.

Q: I know rumors are flying around about David Malukas and his job security at Arrow McLaren right now. I know that Gavin Ward and Zak Brown have made statements in interviews, but I want your personal take, Marshall.

If Malukas is unable to race in the 500, do you think this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back? Possible mid-season replacement or do they finish him out for 2024?

Alex, Michigan

MP: No need for us to debate the rumors. Let’s go with facts: David did significant damage to his wrist/hand when he crashed on his mountain bike, and for the sake of clarity, he wasn’t doing anything reckless or dangerous. It was a rather mundane and unspectacular incident, as he told me. But he still went over the handlebars and his left hand/wrist bore the brunt of the crash.

The problem he’s dealing with today and has been dealing with since the mid-February surgery, is there’s been a limited amount of healing taking place. For reasons unknown, the affected area isn’t responding on any kind of timeline that was predicted, and as such, there’s no timeline to offer on when he might drive again.

For David’s sake, I truly hope he’s is in the car for the 500. He’s excellent on ovals, and it would be the perfect place to debut for the team and show them he’s a talent worth holding onto. But based on the slow healing/no timeline realities, I’d put my money on Callum Ilott, who really came to life on ovals in 2023, and put in a starring drive at Indy, as the most likely driver in the No. 6.

As Kanaan told me in a Friday interview at Long Beach, the thing an injured driver worries about and needs to defend is a replacement driver doing big things while they’re sidelined and piquing the interest of the team. Pourchaire has no oval experience, so that’s not a role they’d ask him to fill right now.

But again, if the young Frenchman impresses this weekend and becomes a frequent road/street solution between his Japanese Super Formula commitments, and the team has Ilott as a road/street/oval solution, I’d think Malukas could be in trouble.

Nobody at the team has said that to me, but having worked on IndyCar teams where multiple drivers were used to stand in for an injured driver, I can tell you that each new driver is usually viewed as a potential full-time driver if they deliver a breakout performance.

Malukas signed a one-year deal, with a second year as an option the team can execute. If the team feels like they’ve found someone who could be better, it would be silly to park them. But David’s also quite popular, and the team probably wouldn’t want to invite a wave of criticism if Malukas wasn’t given a chance to defend his seat. It’s a brutal situation for all involved.

If David’s on the free agent market later this year, I’m sure he’ll draw some interest from a few teams because he’s quite good and will only get better. Pourchaire’s run this Sunday and all of the potential ramifications will be an important one to follow.