Miller’s Mailbag, 6.21

Photo: LAT

Hello open-wheel types and thanks for all your questions. I intend to answer your questions every week during the season, so just email me at Don’t feel left out if I didn’t directly respond. I appreciate your interest and passion.


Q: My first memory of Jason Leffler was at the new 16th St. Speedway on opening night. The Midwest USAC regulars were learning their way around the baseball diamond shaped track and going what appeared to be fast. Quietly, two immaculately prepared black midgets appeared on the track. The cars were from the Keith Kuntz stable. The drivers were a couple of kids from California; Jason Leffler and Jay Drake. After one slow lap, Jason and Jay stood on the button and made that track one large circle, slinging dirt everywhere in the process, and man were they fast. Life was good and I followed Jason ever since. Glad The Captain gave him a shot at Indy. Rest in Peace.

Ralph Power

RM: I remember watching Jason that summer and then seeing him again a couple years later at IRP and noting he was quick on dirt or pavement. Then Parnelli told me to keep an eye on him because he was going to be a champion. Rufus was right, of course.

Q: Like the rest of the racing world, I was shocked and saddened to hear about the horrific crash that claimed the life of Jason Leffler. Unfortunately, it seems like we are hearing stories like this far too often lately. An ESPN story about the death of Leffler was somewhat critical about local short tracks and their lack of safety measures. With that said is there anything, realistically, that short tracks (especially dirt tracks) can do to enhance safety and possibly avoid such tragedies, i.e. safer barriers, better catch fences, etc.?

Jay Matheny, Mayfield, KY

RM: Kyle Petty and I did a SPEED REPORT show together last weekend to discuss this subject and he made a good point that short tracks can’t afford safer barriers. From what I’ve seen, a lot of short tracks have upgraded their fences and pit walls during the years but many of them are struggling to stay open as well. Jason was wearing a HANS Device and it sounds like the car broke at the worst possible second and flung him into the wall where his neck was broken. Don’t know enough details to say if a safer wall could have saved him.

Q: It was tragic to read of Jason Leffler’s passing but I must commend you on taking a very tragic event and writing in a way that conveyed not only your thoughts but that of many of his and sprint car fans. Having been around racing since 1960 I have seen my share of tragedies in motorsports, but none of them was a result of a driver not pursuing their individual passion. Accidents happen, both in real life and in auto racing,

Tom Conlon

RM: When a racer passes on or loses their life much too early like Jason you want to try and tell a story that does them justice. Thankfully, P.J. Jones gave us the perspective that balanced the pain with the good times.

Q: It is very saddening to hear about Jason Leffler’s passing. He was truly an outstanding young man. He always was considerate and took time for fans at Sun Prairie. Do you know if any fund has been set up to take care of his son? If so, could you please post it for us?

Dr GG, Kentwood MI

RM: The USAC Benevolent Fund is matching donations, dollar for dollar, until $25,000 is reached and you can contact to contribute. NASCAR has also set up a fund and I imagine there’s information on the website.

Q: I was at Milwaukee and thought it was a great race with lots of non-stop action front to back. But nothing was said at the race (that I heard anyway) about Andretti bringing IndyFest back to Milwaukee for 2014. Crowd seemed OK, but still lots of empty seats. What have you heard about the possibility of Milwaukee IndyFest 2014? And, Milwaukee was another disaster for Simona and so far, she has not shown much on the road/street courses either. I am a big fan and really hope she will turn it around, but I have to ask, how long can Simona under-perform for KV and still retain her seat?

Rick, Appleton, WI

RM: Michael Andretti has a three-year contract and it seemed like everyone was pleased with Year 2 afterwards. I guessed the crowd was up a couple thousand (maybe 25,000?) from 2012 and it rained Saturday morning with a doom and gloom forecast so that didn’t help. Simona can’t seem to catch a break this season and she unloaded fast at Milwaukee but went backwards. She’ll get things going.

Q: I bought the Paddock Pass for the first time at Milwaukee and was blown away by the access to the cars, teams and drivers. I dragged along a NASCAR-fan buddy of mine and he was probably more excited and pumped up for the event than I was. Anyway, now to what I’m writing about. What, in your opinion, needs to happen with the Firestone Indy Lights Series? While the racing was decent on track, why does there seem to be a lack of interest in the feeder series? Beyond Andretti Autosport and Schmidt Hamilton, there seems to be zero interest from above in running at least one car and developing some future talent for the top tier. Is it, like all things racing related these days, about economics? Clearly the Lights cars need a revamp and a new engine formula to be more relevant in general, but just seems like the team owners would see some benefit in having at least some interest in the development series.

Chris, Oak Forest, IL

RM: Glad you tried to convert a stock car fan and no surprise he was amazed at the access compared to NASCAR. As for Indy Lights, it has no direction at the moment but I think Derrick Walker will come up with a plan ASAP. But you bring up a great point, only two owners support the feeder system and maybe it’s time puts in a provision that the only way a team gets all its Leader’s Circle money is to field at least one Lights car. Can you imagine what NASCAR would do to its owners if there was only eight Nationwide cars?

Q: I guess it’s long gone, those great memories of tackling the Milwaukee Mile right after the 500. First off, how bout’ killing the Indy Light series. It’s so pathetic you’re guaranteed a Top 8 finish. Now, some spec car racing. Time to celebrate, there were eight cars on the lead lap when this one was checkered. An improvement from Texas with only seven. So how many paid seats were actually filled? Slightly better than Texas but that wouldn’t take much. The racing once again was pretty much follow-the-leader but there was a highlight for me. We do have a race for the championship and RHR win was great. So, will there be a MM next year or was this one the final straw?

Grumpy Gary

RM: I think it would be great if Milwaukee was slotted right behind Indianapolis like it was for 75 years and get back to Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. instead of Saturday at 3:40 p.m. The race was typical Milwaukee, a couple drivers the class of the field and lots of hard racing and passing throughout the field. I think it will be return, I hope it does anyway.

Q: Does it bother the IndyCar drivers and owners when they perform in front of the sparse crowds like we saw at Milwaukee?

Steve, Indianapolis

RM: Well, obviously a packed house always brings more atmosphere but I think the drivers always appreciate the fans’ passion at Milwaukee. It’s the hard core fans who follow the series and I think the drivers know that. And Milwaukee half full was better than Texas.

Q: I don’t know about Chicago PR but in Milwaukee Andretti has kicked done pretty well (save for not having promos at the State Fair last year). He’s got cream puffs (a state fair staple), advertising on WISN, calls it IndyFest in line the whole City of Festivals atmosphere, marketed a bit w/summerfest (who’s attendance was way down last year btw)… Are American winners THAT important to people here? Is that what it is? Is it NASCAR? Is it the split whereby the fans that left aren’t ever coming back? I don’t know what it will take to bring IndyCar back (I thought Randy Bernard was doing it, but…)
Between the attendance here and the Indy 500 TV rating (dismal) I’m worried this series may not survive more than another 2-3 years. I was at the Mile Saturday w/my parents and I savored every lap like it’s the last one here.

Dan Hanke, Milwaukee

RM: I walked around the fan zone and beer garden on Saturday and saw a lot of families and potential IndyCar fans (kids) and people enjoying the atmosphere. I think Kevin Healy and his people did a good job of getting the word out but for a late Saturday afternoon start with a 70 percent forecast of rain, I thought it was a decent turnout. Not sure why Milwaukee isn’t a sellout like it was forever but, like I said in an earlier response, move it back to the Sunday (1 p.m.) after Indianapolis and see what happens.

Q: I guess it’s nice that with all the Andretti’s have done to save the race at The Mile, that RHR and Marco stunk up the weekend with their dominance. Still, Penske was close and if Honda could get their fuel millage act together Sato had a real shot. The middle part of the race was pretty exciting. I especially liked your jab a t A.J. while Sato was leading strongly, and certainly wish Super Tex a speedy recovery! (try frozen yogurt A.J.!) I think the crowd looked better this year, and hopefully the race will continue to get more fans back. I feel for Simona De Silvestro. She is a breath of fresh air, young and a hard charger and it appears to me she carried the “second” KV car in the early rounds of the season. This BS all the “experts” spout about her not being good or comfortable on ovals is so old and tiresome. She essentially is in her SECOND year in an anywhere near competitive car on ovals. She was dicing and passing cars last week in Texas, with not a great car but would have been Top 10 without the “blend” problem. Last weekend she rolls off the trailer and is 9th fastest in first practice, then falls to 18 or so in second, then qualifies slowest then has an un-driveable car in the race. Yes I understand the driver is part of the engineering process but GD it’s her second time at Milwaukee in a decent race car. My point in all this is as a longtime fan I feel I have the ability to see talent, she has it as much as any other young driver in major open wheel racing. She is treated in a chauvinistic manor by the media — the color commentators in the booth of both networks being the worst offenders. I’m just beginning to doubt that the current set up a KV is going to work. Hoping they can get a better set up going for the upcoming ovals, but heck her last street course set up was crap too… o well end of rant. In closing, thank you for talking to Simona on your grid run, it was a treat seeing my favorite driver and journalist together!

Alan, Louisville

RM: Not sure what’s going on but Simona hasn’t forgotten where the throttle is and it seems like that team has lost its way (like several others in the paddock). But I don’t recall hearing any disparaging comments from NBC or ABC about her (but I don’t get to listen to ABC very often) and I think most talking heads admire her verve. And I wasn’t picking on A.J., just encouraging him to get that hip replaced and back off on Blue Bell ice cream.

Q: What’s the deal with Dario Franchitti? Yes he won Indy last year, but he hasn’t been much of a threat since the new DW12 turbo era commenced in 2012. Is he having problems adjusting to the new car? Is Ganassi Racing to blame? Honda? Or is there something outside of the race car? I think it’s great that the racing press gave Franchitti space when his divorce was announced, but at this point one has to ask- has this taken a toll on his driving? How many more years does he have on his contract with Ganassi? Any news on JR Hildebrand landing a ride? I’d ring Dale Coyne and put him in for all the events Mike Conway’s unavailable for. I hope he bounces back. His scenario (in some ways) reminds me of Townsend Bell’s unceremonious (and unfair) departure from Patrick Racing back in the day.

Victor in Toronto

RM: When you see that the Target boys have only led 28 laps this season and have one podium it’s obvious to me it’s not the drivers. Dario and Dixon drove their butts off last weekend to finish sixth and eighth. They’ve been quick at times (Franchitti won the pole at Detroit and Dixie was second at Barber) but not consistent and they seem to be missing whatever Andretti Autosport has found. But Dario is happy as a clam, off the track, from what I’ve seen and this is the last year of his contract. J.R. was at Milwaukee talking to a couple owners.

Q: Any idea what’s going on with Graham Rahal? I don’t have any doubts the kid can drive but he’s being outperformed regularly by James Jakes and he always seems to be flogging around at the back of the field. Does the car not suit his style? Seems like he had the same problems at Ganassi so team personnel probably not the issue. I just don’t get it.

Ray Saloomey, Bakersfield, VT

RM: Good question. He was always in the Fast Six a couple years ago and should have won Baltimore and Texas for Ganassi so it’s not a question of talent. I don’t think he and his engineer mesh while Eddie Jones has been great for Jakes.

Q: Mr. Miller we need to buy Graham Rahal a lucky rabbit’s foot and voodoo witch to get the bad luck off of him. Do you think his chassis is bad?

Andrew Marshall

RM: No, I think Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan needs a damper program and a rabbit’s foot.

Q: While Chevy seems to have Honda covered on ovals this season, Honda has had some success on the road/street courses. In spite of that, Target Ganassi has only one podium finish the entire season. I can’t imagine running in the middle of the pack and not being much of a factor is sitting too well with Chip and his drivers. Is there any friction building up on the Ganassi team and is Honda taking any heat from Chip?

Scott in Portland

RM: Ganassi badmouthed Honda early in the season but hasn’t said anything publicly since but I’m sure there’s friction. I guess we figured Chevy would kick butt on road/street courses with twin turbos and Honda would rule on ovals with a single turbo but that hasn’t been the case. Some Honda drivers are convinced Chevy makes more power.

Q: As the halfway point of the season nears there have been surprises for me like Will Power’s lackluster season, Rahal’s problems and Hildebrand’s firing. What has surprised you so far?

Gerry Courtney

RM: Lack of pace from Ganassi, Rahal’s struggles and the fact Power has been shut out of victory lane. And GM’s dominance on ovals.

Q: I used to be a fan of NASCAR but have gotten away from it due to the follow the leader and “fabricated” (G-W-C) racing that it has become. Instead I have become a fan of F1 because of the technology and strategy that is involved and discussed in the broadcasts. It is also nice that the coverage realizes that some of the best racing goes on behind first place. It seems that IndyCar fans want what NASCAR is and not what F1 is. Does the “new fan” just not understand that racing is not just about pressing the pedal………strategy and technology play a significant role as well. Do the announcers feel that people will tune out if they talk strategy? I prefer a bit more than “….a pass for the lead” from the booth.

Mark Layman

RM: My opinion is that the majority of fans appreciate passing and close racing over strategy,fuel mileage and tire wear. You are correct, those three are obviously important but IndyCar fans have been spoiled by damn good racing the past two years.

Q: With all of today’s advanced technology, we STILL don’t have onboard starters or (working) anti-stall devices…? SERIOUSLY? Also, do the geniuses at 16th and Georgetown ever actually read your mailbag or talk to the fans, to see how fans truly feel about their series and what they want out of it…?

Frank from Rochester, NY.

RM: Here is a direct quote from IndyCar tech chief Will Phillips: “On board starters and required batteries are an extremely heavy and bulky package. Anti-stall is in the hands of the manufacturers, some doing a better job than the other but they have the ability to implement and develop as they choose. IC is looking at mandating that it works and how we might require it to be demonstrated in the future.” Randy Bernard used to read the Mailbag and, obviously, listened to the fans. Don’t know about the new regime.

Q: I have been an A.J. Foyt fan since the late 60′s and like most rejoiced with their win at Long Beach. With that said, it seems since A.J. rejoined his team at Indianapolis that all the forward momentum up to that point has completely evaporated…..coincidence???

My apologizes to the racing gods!!!

Douglas, Brownsburg

RM: I kidded A.J. after Long Beach and told him to stay home but I’m proud of the fact he’s turned things over to Larry Foyt and let things flow. Sato was quick again last weekend and he’ll be tough all season. Just like Super Tex.

Q: I just read in the Indy Star, where Indy Car paid ABC to televise the Texas race in prime time and that Eddie Gossage helped by coughing up $200,000. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around. The talk before was how does IMS afford to keep the NASCAB race, despite only 80,000 people last year? Because before they sell a seat or a beer, they are already ahead by $1.5 million thanks to the TV money. Doesn’t stuff like that make who you work for (NBCS) upset? To tell you the truth this is the first time I feel that Indy Car is in trouble. What do you think?

Edgar Arnold

RM: I think Randy Bernard knew that his teams needed a prime time show on network television so he bought it on ABC with an assist from Gossage. Considering the normal ratings IndyCar gets, it was a good investment. NASCAR’s television package dwarfs IndyCar’s and will continue to as long as it keeps getting good numbers (which it does). NBC Sports Network has Formula One, NHL and IndyCar and is trying to grow its audience but you always have to be realistic about cable compared to network. Is IndyCar in trouble? Let’s just say it’s got some major challenges.

Q: I know you will begin to get emails like this (if you haven’t gotten them already.) IndyCar is good to have a mix of street and road courses to provide different racing and strategies. They have even improved on the variety on ovals with adding Pocono. But what about going back to Richmond? Going to Rockingham, NC? Phoenix? Some of us like a variety of ovals and different driving styles.

Mike, Wendell, NC

RM: Richmond and Phoenix were both interested a year ago but how much remains to be seen. I think Rockingham would be perfect but it has to make sense to all parties.

Q: I heard Davey Hamilton mention in one of the IMS Radio Network’s race broadcasts that to him the ideal schedule for IndyCar would be 20 races with one race every other weekend starting in March and going until November. He mentioned that he would like to see 5 road, 5 street, 5 short oval, and 5 big oval races. Do you think that the series could ever get to that point and away from it street race heavy schedule (10 street races this year!) to a more balanced schedule? Also do you think that any of the other owners feel the same way? Once more quick question for you, do you expect that we could ever see Rubens back in an IndyCar full time?

John-Paul, Pendleton, IN

RM: I like the idea of every other week but the promoters have certain dates that work and IndyCar has to try and work with them so it’s not an easy formula. And getting 10 ovals seems unrealistic because it’s tough to draw crowds (look at Texas) nowadays for IndyCar regardless of the reasons. I could see an old CART schedule of 7 streets, 7 road courses and 7 ovals if the star were aligned but the fact remains you can only race where people want you. Don’t see Rubens returning.

Q: Got some time on my hands now after retiring, do you have three books on racing that are “must reads”?

Bruce Wright, Liberty, Texas

RM: The new Parnelli book (As A Matter of Fact I Am Parnelli Jones by Bones Bourcier), Brock Yates’ Against Death & Time and Vukovich by Bob Gates are all must reads. Lone Wolf by Dave Argabright is also good along with Crashed and Byrned.

Q: IndyCar has an identity crisis with NASCAR and F1 cornering the oval racing and road racing markets, respectively. I think IndyCar should adopt street circuit racing as its signature with the persona of a street fighter as opposed to F1′s dainty fencer. The current chassis is ugly, but robust like a street fighter. Turbochargers and cylinders are what separates F1 from IndyCar. With F1 due to adopt turbocharged V6s in ’14, that gap will be narrowed. IndyCar should become what World Superbike is to MotoGP, tuned production equipment versus prototype equipment to lower costs with engine development built in and attract wildcard entries especially with $1 million winning prizes at prestigious venues. How about scaling production engines up or down to meet a certain spec for competitive racing? If F1 adds the Port Imperial street circuit, it could further relegate IndyCar to second-class open-wheel status in North America. How about adding some prestigious and renowned venues to the series like the Bugatti Circuit (Le Mans, France), Guia Circuit (Macau, China), Road America and Laguna Seca? Mont-Tremblant should be added to corner Canadian open-wheel racing. The current crop of IndyCar street circuits are OK, but they aren’t Hermann Tilke-designed street circuits. The doubleheader rounds should get spruced up street circuits. Oval course rounds should be reduced to 3 (Indianapolis and Milwaukee for obvious reasons, and Iowa). Open-wheel oval races aren’t the draw that they once were, and the IndyCar leadership must recognize that. Finally, IndyCar must fix the haphazard naming of events and adopt a nomenclature. For example, instead of Milwaukee IndyFest, call it IndyCar at the historic Milwaukee Mile…IndyCar in Detroit…IndyCar in Sao Paulo…IndyCar at Barber…GoPro presents IndyCar at Sonoma. Use “at” to refer to a permanent course, and use “in” to refer to the location of a street circuit.

B. Fonatanilla

RM: I think IndyCar’s true identity is what it’s been for the past 30 years – the most diversified series in the world and it probably needs to keep that. I like your suggestions for Macau and a street race in London might be spectacular if you could sneak it by Bernie.

Q: Please explain why Helio’s car was not disqualified when it failed to pass tech inspection after the race. The car’s configuration must have afforded a huge advantage in downforce and there was a time when he would simply have been a DQ. Given other punishments this season (i.e. – Justin Wilson not being allowed to qualify at Long Beach because of a missing vinyl wrap or fines for throwing gloves) the whole idea of taking entrants points and leaving the victory in tact seems rather inconsistent. I also wonder if IndyCar did not miss an opportunity to generate a little controversy by penalizing The Captain. Any politics involved in this decision?

Joe Walsh, Sacramento, CA

RM: The underwing tunnel exits were found to be lower than the rules allow, not higher, so Castroneves didn’t have an advantage, according to the series. Owner’s points were taken away from Penske just like they were Dale Coyne (not Wilson) in 2012 but that rule may be changed by Iowa.

Q: I’m sorry but Derrick Walker blew the aero package for Texas, despite what drivers were complaining about. Next Castroneves dominates and is found with a clearly illegal ride height advantage, but gets no point deduction? If I’m Marco or Hunter-Reay, I’m fuming right now. Helio cheats and isn’t penalized. Justin Wilson was deducted points last year at Texas for a lesser foul. I have great respect for Walker, but is he suffering from senior moments or something? This is on the heels of those pathetic fines/probation given out to two Sebastian’s and Will Power in Detroit for expressing emotion.

Greg (Belleville, NJ)

RM: Calm down. Walker inherited the aero package and admitted afterwards he should have listened to the drivers so that’s kinda refreshing for my money. Castroneves’ car did not have an advantage and Wilson didn’t get points taken away in 2012. Hiring Derrick will be the best thing Mark Miles does.

Q: As a weekly reader of your column, I’ve come to the conclusion IndyCar fans are the most negative people in the country – discounting all individuals who hold elected office. The sport has some very serious problems, but I will stand by the following statements: 1. A decade ago, I was concerned the sport may not survive. Now my concern is the sport may not survive outside of the Indianapolis 500. It’s not much, but it is progress. 2. Barring the invention of a time machine allowing us to go back and pound some sense into the heads of Tony George and CART owners, there will be no quick fixes. It will take time with hard work and patience required. Fans have a right to be critical, but if we really care, we need to focus some energy on converting turning our friends on to the sport – something I’m proud to say I’ve had some success doing. Now, for two ideas for the upcoming influx of state money IMS will be receiving: 1. Find the money to guarantee a check of at least $5 million for the 500′s winning driver. Then make that part of the story. 2. Install lights and run the race in prime time of Saturday night. TV ratings will double and we’ll see a handful of NASCAR types try the double every year. I don’t necessarily like it, but times change. End rant. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Ray McBride, Danville, IL

RM: IndyCar fans have a right to be bitchy because of all the boneheaded decisions and leadership in the past 20 years. It pains me to even consider Indy at night but if that’s what it takes to double the ratings and get more sponsors, I guess it would be beneficial. The purse needs a major overhaul and you might be able to attract 50 entries again.

Q: Count me in the minority as saying I liked the Texas race, granted the show was not as exciting as last year’s (which I still say is the best race that has ever been run @ TMS). Not sure the drivers then had to pedal the cars as much as in 2013 but I remember some of the late 90′s IRL races (see YouTube), where on more than one occasion only two or three drivers finished on the lead lap. Regardless IndyCar has come a long way since the IRL and I will take this year’s kind of racing where the drivers have to actually drive the car over the pack racing any day. I have no doubt Derrick Walker will get the downforce/tire combination closer to the 2012 show.

Angela Ortiz

RM: I agree in that I’d much rather see drivers fighting for control than those suicide shows of IRL fame and one less-than-dramatic race doesn’t ruin the body of work these past two years. You are correct, Walker will get it right.

Q: To listen to you all of a sudden being a trumpet for IndyCar kind of makes me sick to my stomach a bit. For a sport that used to have hundreds of thousands of fans go through turnstiles on multiple continents to what an event looks like now is a disgrace. All I know is when the cars were different and stupid fast, the stands were full. It created interest for people. No one is interested anymore, I’m not a hater. It’s just plain for me and anyone to see. I am so grateful to have grown up in the 80′s and 90′s to witness the peak of open wheel Racing in North America in regards to technology and fan interest. For anyone to suggest what is being offered now is anyway remotely close to what was, makes me puke. Thirteen years of empty seats and TV ratings that get crushed by Dog Shows should maybe be resonating with someone by now. Laugh Out Loud! Somewhere in my mind Big Mo Gugelmin still circles a track @ 240 mph

Luke, Fonthill Ont, Canada

RM: I’ve been trumpeting the competition, close finishes and different winners because it’s been entertaining. Of course it’s in no way comparable to USAC in 1977 or CART in 1987 or 1993 or 1998 and I haven’t backed off criticizing bad ideas (IMS road course race or ending the season on Labor Day). But there is no quick fix and constantly complaining that the old girl ain’t what she used to be does no good – especially when the racing is so good.

Q: I’m actually surprised at all the complaints about the “boring” race last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. From reading you mailbag for that past few years, it seems that a lot of readers want Indy Car to return to “the good old days” of the late ’80′s and early ’90′s. Well, that’s exactly what they got with the Texas race. It seems to me that most people either weren’t fans then or they have selective memory about the actual racing that was going on then. Sure there were legends on the track back then, but most of the races were really decided between just a small handful of cars with huge winning margins. That’s what made the ’82 and ’92 500′s so spectacular with the close finishes, because they were so out of the usual. People don’t seem to remember that in the ’89 500, Emmo and Little Al were 6 laps ahead of the rest of the field and that Al still finish 2nd after crashing out on Lap 198. Sure, it was great to be able to watch Mears, Foyt, Mario, Michael, Bobby Rahal, Emmo and the others race, but the actual racing product, in my opinion, was nowhere near as good as what we’ve had recently.

Patrick Reardon

RM: You are correct and it should be close since all the cars are the same but the depth of the field is pretty damn good as well.

Q: I just wanted to say thanks for hosting the Open Wheel Legends DVD with Mario, Parnelli and Dan Gurney. It was outstanding. Any thoughts about doing another one with AJ or maybe the four time Indy winners, A.J., Al Senior and Rick Mears?

Steve Ruedy, Redmond, WA

RM: I wanted to get A.J. and call it Mount Rushmore but he was grand marshal of the parade and didn’t make it so I’d love to sit down with those three 4-timers.

Q: Instead of everyone yapping how bad the race was (it was bad) ad nauseum, I have a question. Derek Walker is a racer through and through, WHY didn’t he listen to the drivers? A simple question, please ask him and get back to us

Jim Levitt

RM: They said the same thing in 2012 and the race turned out just fine.

Q: Could you, please, explain how sponsorship financing works for an IndyCar team? Does a team go out and buy the equipment and hire people and then go looking for sponsorship to pay them back, or do they secure the funding first? Do sponsors pay one lump sum at the beginning or end of the season, or is it paid in installments? And how about when there’s a damaged-beyond-repair chassis? Also, what about partial sponsorship for certain races, as in TK’s case, when Sunoco stepped up at the last minute to cover the 4 races they lacked funding for–would K and V had to have paid for the expenses for those rounds if Sunoco wasn’t there…?

Frank, Rochester, NY.

RM: Every situation is different but most teams start by securing the funding before buying equipment and cars. Some sponsors have paid up front and others do it by installments. Some drivers bring sponsors to get the ride and others cultivate relationships after being hired. I’m sure KV’s Indy win kept TK going regardless of Sunoco.

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