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’ve watched more than my fair share of Hallmark Channel with my wife to know, one of the first questions a scorned woman asks; is how long has this been going on? Was St Pete a one-night tryst or an ongoing affair? How long have they been cheating?

Bernard, TX

MARSHALL PRUETT: That would be best answered by an external investigation team, wouldn’t it?

Q: Will IndyCar ever come to the northeast again? I will not drive nine-plus hours for a race. IndyCar goes to California and Oregon for three or four races, but the northeast U.S. has nearly twice the population and zero races. I love IndyCar, but I feel like IndyCar does not have any interest in a part of the country with a huge population and no traditional interest in NASCAR. I think IndyCar should consider an under-served market. Thank you.

Michael Yarnell

MP: One out of every 10 Americans live in California, so I’m not sure on the math, but yes, there’s no doubt that IndyCar needs to find a regular home in the Northeast that hasn’t failed to draw a crowd or collapsed and disappeared in the last 10 or 15 years.

Overstating the obvious here, but if there was a track that came to mind that fit the bill, I’m confident IndyCar would be there. Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles has said to me and others that it’s a top priority. I view the lack of a solution as more of an issue on finding the answer than on Penske Entertainment lacking the will or effort to make it happen.

Q: Saddened by the news regarding Dave Malukas, but it was entirely predictable given recent history (Askew, Pagenaud).

I think all classes of cars in IMSA feature power steering. If Dave’s wrist heals throughout the summer, could we see him at Petit as a third driver in one of the classes? A good showing would keep his name at the top of potential IndyCar seat lists and keep the skills sharp.

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

MP: Plenty of possibilities there, but Davey’s an IndyCar driver and wants to be back in the series. IndyCar team owners wouldn’t notice or care if he did well in an LMP2 or GT3 car since there’s almost no chance he’d land a GTP seat, where he’d be properly seen. He needs to get back to karting, Indy NXT, and so on to build up the specific muscles that atrophied, and from there, arrange an IndyCar test.

Q: After all the controversy surrounding the P2P incident with Team Penske, we have heard from the Team Penske drivers, drivers of other teams, league senior management, and of course Chevrolet.  Has anyone bothered to ask Honda about their opinion of it?  You know, the honor-bound Japanese company that is considering a future without IndyCar?

Certainly, this incident had to be annoying at least, since it was a Chevrolet-powered team cheating to victory. When Honda previously withdrew in 2002 from CART, American Honda executive Tom Elliott said it was for two reasons: Lack of engine rule stability, and loss of confidence and trust in CART. It sounds like a similar scenario is developing for IndyCar.

Jane, Indianapolis, IN

MP: That’s a delightful question I failed to think of to pose to Honda when it all went down. Failure on my part, Jane.

Q: Is there any word on what Christian Rasmussen’s car number for the 500 will be? I know he used 33 in testing, but Peacock emphasized that was just for the test.

Vincent Michael

MP: I’m told by the team that it will indeed be the No. 33.

Q: How bad is the dirty air on road/street courses with the current iteration of the DW12/IR18 IndyCar? With such boxy wings and the fact that drivers keep mentioning it from time to time, one could think air turbulence when following another car are still a thing nowadays. But on the other hand, as we saw recently, these same folks still seem to be able to follow each other at Barber, which is a very twisty track. Same goes with the Thermal Club – I expected following to be a question mark in at least T8 and 9 and possibly all the way through to T13, but from the TV perspective, it looked OK-ish. Did you, in both races, get any feedback from drivers in that regard?

Now, if dirty air is still a thing, since IndyCar might consider introducing parts of a new chassis at some point in the future, and since you once wrote that there probably isn’t much to be gained from redesigning the sidepods, then how about the wings and the underwing? Could a stronger floor and flatter wings alleviate the wake turbulences?

Lastly, since the IR18’s debut six years ago, IndyCar has introduced quite a few upgrades, some of them being really heavy, namely the aeroscreen and the ERS coming later this year. That means the weight distribution and the location of the center of gravity will have moved a little bit, right? Couldn’t this be another reason for upgrading the downforce-generating parts?


MP: I didn’t get any feedback from drivers on dirty air at the corners in question at Barber because there’s nothing new about dirty air with the DW12 or at Barber. The nomenclature ‘IR18’ did debut six years ago, but that’s in reference to the new bodywork; the underlying car wasn’t new.

Maybe it’s dumb, but in my head, if someone named Steve decides to go in a different route with his fashion and starts dressing in an entirely different manner, it’s still Steve, right?

Yes, part of IndyCar’s work over the years has been to make the underwing more powerful so less reliance on giant topside wings and steep wing angles are required to make more of the downforce. Formula 1 followed suit with that philosophy when its new rules and cars were introduced for 2022. I’d expect IndyCar to ask Dallara to go farther in that direction whenever it chooses to replace the DW12. Also keep in mind that thanks to F1’s drag reduction system, we have passing in F1. But rarely do we see non-DRS passes for meaningful positions, so this approach is by no means a cure-all, nor is it guaranteed to promote tons of passing due to the lowering of topside turbulence affecting trailing cars.

Weight distribution and center of gravity have moved plenty since the aeroscreen landed in 2020, and recently when lightweight aeroscreens and drivetrain componentry was incorporated for 2024. And when the energy recovery systems are installed in June, both will change — and radically so — again.