Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to email@example.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.
NOTE: Thanks to everyone who sent letters in response to the recent Guest Mailbag by IndyCar president Jay Frye. Your feedback has been forwarded to IndyCar – MG
Q: What are the ramifications of disqualification from an IndyCar event once it is underway? It makes sense that the driver would score no points for that event, but what other outcomes are associated with a disqualification?
Leslie Bissell, Kansas City, KS
MARSHALL PRUETT: All depends on the disqualification. If it’s the two rookies at Iowa, they both scored points — five apiece — because IndyCar pays points for every position. But there’s a distinction here where they were disqualified from competing in the race which, in my best Buxton-esque Drive To Survive voice, means they were no longer allowed to participate in the race while it was happening.
That’s different than being excluded from the results, which is a post-race penalty that treats the offending team or driver like they were never there, and for that to happen, it would need to be a huge violation of whatever sorts.
Foyt’s Pedersen was parked for being too slow, so the DQ was the penalty. To his credit, he learned from his mistakes while being lapped at Mid-Ohio and didn’t put up a silly fight in the second race as the field streaked by. For Coyne’s Robb, they were the cause of the penalty for sending him without a wheel attached to the car, and then failing to tell him to stop. Robb paid the price for their errors, and if there was an unpublished monetary fine assessed to the team by the series, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Q: I have always admired and supported Roger Penske. He and I grew up a few miles from each other, although I was on the wrong side of the tracks. I admired him as a driver and then, of course, as an amazing team owner. I was elated when he bought IndyCar and IMS, and I truly believe he has saved the series.
Having said all that, I must complain about the excessive amount and length of the commercials during the Iowa doubleheader. Before I retired, I was a chief financial officer at several organizations for 40 years, so I understand the importance of revenue streams. Even so, the TV commercials, especially for the Sunday race, spoiled the entire viewing experience. From the time the green flag dropped until the checkers waived, there were 12 commercial breaks in a short race! The split screen technique does little to help, especially when the only sound you can hear is the overly loud babbling of the commercials.
Contrast that with the Formula 1 race broadcasts which run without commercials.
Penske is brilliant and surrounds himself with smart people. Can’t they do something to produce a better experience for the TV race fans?
Bob Isabella, Mentor, Ohio
MP: Roger Penske and IndyCar do not place commercials in the NBC broadcasts, so I’m not sure what else to say here, Bob. It’s like blaming NBA commissioner Adam Silver for having too many commercials during a basketball game on ABC.
Q: I know IndyCar is very cost-conscious, but are there any plans to expand the schedule? I saw your article about wanting more short tracks, which would be great. But is there any desire among the teams and/or IndyCar to expand the schedule to 20 or more races?
If so, I’ve heard a lot of negativity about Watkins Glen. It seems like a great track for IMSA; wondering whether IndyCar would be interested in returning?
MP: I’ve gotten conflicting messages when I’ve asked about a calendar expansion, so I’m not sure. I would say that from a practical standpoint, many teams — but not all of the teams — are stretched to their financial limits at the current $6-8 million it costs to run a car for a 17-race season, so the idea of taking it out to 18-20 would come with a need to increase the Leaders Circle contracts to help offset things.
There’s another item to consider with the growth of the grid to 27 full-time cars, and no increase in the size of the Leaders Circle — it was cut, actually, by $150,000 this year to $910,000 — with the series’ owners holding firm to offering 22 Leaders Circle contracts. Doing more races, which costs the teams more operationally, and would increase engine lease and tire lease prices due to the added mileage, would only widen the gap between the series-assisted 22 and the other five or more entries who don’t receive the subsidy.
I know, something simple like schedule expansion comes with a bunch of other factors that kill the fun… All that aide, who wouldn’t want to go back to The Glen? The track has a new president, so never say never.
Q: Instead of asking when we will race at (insert the track name), what tracks in the U.S. could IndyCars run on that they aren’t racing at now? Car most likely go to? Got a favorite?
Steve Coe, Vancouver, WA
MP: If I had my say, and because I love anarchy, we’d revive the two Evel Knievel street races with built-in jumps at San Jose and Baltimore. But since that ain’t happening, Watkins Glen stands out as one that could have greater success today with IndyCar than it did when small crowds took it off the calendar after a two-year return from 2016-2017. I base that on the noticeable increase in attendance for June’s IMSA race, so if the same crowd or bigger appeared, I think the track and IndyCar would be pleased.
We have the usual suspects with Milwaukee and whatnot, but if we’re looking for turnkey places, WGI is where I’d start.