Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 live 40 minutes from Meyer Shank Racing, and am a fan. If they lose HPD/Acura in IMSA, will they also lose HPD in IndyCar?
Mark Crellin, Springfield, OH
MARSHALL PRUETT: I’ve asked and been told MSR will have Honda power in IndyCar next year and beyond.
Q: Perhaps you can ask someone in charge at IndyCar why the invocation almost always has an evangelical message? For a series that is trying to promote diversity and inclusiveness, this shows, at best, a severe lack of awareness, or at worst, an intentional effort on behalf of the ministers to promote their own beliefs. NASCAR does a better job, in general, of having an inclusive invocation. If Darrell Waltrip can give an heartfelt, meaningful invocation that doesn’t exclude any faith, so can IndyCar Ministries or anyone else.
MP: IndyCar Ministry, which has been an active member of the open-wheel community for many decades, is a Christian-based organization, and based on my highly scientific research (a three-second Google search), more than half of the country is Christian. So if we’re talking numbers, the concept of a Jesus-centric invocation would be well received by a lot of folks at the event and watching at home, but not all, and that’s the societal change you’re referring to. If IndyCar is indeed espousing greater inclusiveness through its Race For Equality & Change initiative, this is certainly one to consider.
Q: It has always confused me why NBC and Peacock never shows the in-car’s current position in the field during coverage (below -Ed.)? This would be a great help so we don’t have to search though the list on the left side of the screen. It seems it would be a simple addition that adds value…
Pongo in SoCal
MP: Is this something that other series do when they’re showing in-car footage? I ask because I’m struggling to recall seeing such a thing elsewhere. It’s a good idea, but I’m not going to single out IndyCar when it’s not a standard practice throughout the industry.
Q: I’m writing this as the Nashville race is ongoing, but I’m confused about NBCs decision to not show the first restart following the Malukas crash. NBC didn’t go side by side during the yellow (which makes sense) but by the time they came back from commercial, the leaders were in Turn 4 and we had missed all the Colton Herta drama. Can you reach out to someone from NBC or try to find out why in the world NBC missed that restart? It was incredibly annoying.
Ben from Chicago
MP: It was not great, but I’d put it down to a mistake. There’s no reason for NBC to have done it on purpose.
Q: Well, I have officially renamed “Crashville” back to Nashville! I really expected this to be another crashfest, but the drivers actually showed their skill and professionalism. Of course, late-race restarts usually results in crashes farther back in the pack, and I’m really happy there was only one of those.
My hat is off to the amazing rookie Linus Lunqvist! He really showed he is qualified to run full-time in IndyCar. Palou continues to extend his points lead. I have a slim hope that he doesn’t move to F1, since I see him as his generation’s Scott Dixon. What say you, Marshall?
MP: The rumor I’ve heard a few times now is Palou’s headed to McLaren, but with Norris and Piastri in position for at least another year, Zak Brown is willing to loan Palou to Williams where he’d gain experience and be ready to take one of McLaren race seats if Norris does leave in the near future or if Piastri does not develop into what the team is looking for by the end of 2024. That’s a lof of ifs and buts, but that’s what you get with rumors.
Lundqvist was a revelation, but for those who watched him mollywhop everybody in Indy Lights last year, it was evident that he was special. I’d guess we’ve had a few teams with paying seats available reach out to Linus on Monday and talk in more serious terms about the future. It’s only one race, but he was damn strong and looked like a veteran until that late mistake.
Q: I can’t believe it. IndyCar powers that be throw the red when it’s 1000 degrees in the cockpit. Stop worrying about the show and let the race end the way it ends!
MP: Yeah, but the part where three cars were jammed into each other and blocking half of the track at the second narrowest part of the track is where the call to stop the show and clear the course fell in line with previous decisions to go red. I’m good with how that was handled.
The part that could use some improvement was the stopping and massive heatsoaking from the 200-plus-degree radiators located on both sides of the cockpit. If IndyCar is going to mandate the use of air scoops to try and help with driver cooling, it needs to allow its teams to have hardcore driver cooling options at the ready if the field is stopped under red.
Whether it’s buckets of ice, ice blankets, or something to enclose the top of the car and pump chilled air into the cockpit so it’s mostly sealed, I’d rather see a greater emphasis on preventing heat stroke than having them circulate behind the pace car at slow speeds that bakes them without access to the extra cooling devices.
Q: After watching the last couple of IndyCar races it is obvious that the biggest detriment to competitive racing is marbles from tire degradation. Since this series forces all competitors to use the same tire, wouldn’t it be prudent to ask Firestone to minimize the amount of marbles produced? A reduction of traction would affect all drivers equally, so competition would not be sacrificed. The real racing would be incredible.
MP: We’ve had marbles forever, so I’m not sure what’s new here. Also, lots of drivers made passes in the last couple of races. Yes, Firestone could make tires that are so hard that they do not shed much rubber, but then we’d have the worst competition imaginable because the cars would light up the tires under acceleration, would corner like turtles, and would brake early and forever due to the lack of grip. The racing would be terrible, my friend.
If there’s liquid on the court during an NBA game, the refs stop the game until it’s removed. I’d rather see IndyCar take a harder look at the state of its tracks as the races are going on and decide to pause the action and bring the course up to par.