Dole WG 2016 satRD2 6380

Dole WG 2016 satRD2 6380Some teams are heading to Upstate New York in search of championship salvation, while others, a precious few, view this weekend's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen as the place to move the class titles out of reach.

Of IMSA's four WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, only two remain wide open as the series accelerates past the halfway mark of the 2017 season.

RD COTA 17152In Prototype, it's been an all-Cadillac and all-Wayne Taylor Racing affair with five wins from five races in the 10-round championship. In PC, Performance Tech Motorsports has taken all four of the races so far in its eight-race season. GT Le Mans, which is playing catch-up, has only run four of its 11 races this year, but heads to Watkins Glen with Corvette Racing on a three-race win streak and a modest lead over Ford. And GT Daytona, with five races down in its busy 12-race calendar, has seen Mercedes-AMG go on a three-race victory run between an opening win for Porsche and the most recent win for Acura as multiple brands vie for the title.

Starting with IMSA's top class, WTR could effectively end the Prototype championship chase with another win. With its 30-point lead over its stablemates, the two-car Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R team, WTR has a large and comfortable cushion, thanks to IMSA's point payout system. Prototype's limited class size also factors into the equation.

With 10 cars showing up for most races, finishing last would deliver WTR 21 points for placing 10th. A win, worth 35 points, would help AXR's No. 5 Cadillac (-30 points) and the sister No. 31 (-34 points) to draw down WTR's lead, but with five races left, WTR would need to finish last at least twice and AXR would need to have one car do most of the winning to unseat the championship leader.

Without getting into the hundred different scenarios that could play out, WTR's five wins and a point structure that does not penalize teams for having a bad day is reason the team finds itself on Easy Street. The worst thing that could happen for WTR's title challengers is for the AXR duo or the JDC-Miller Motorsports team (-42 points) or the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan (-48 points) to trade wins from Watkins Glen to the Road Atlanta finale.

To topple WTR, one car needs to get started on a multi-race winning streak and have the WTR Cadillac hit adversity on a regular basis. Anything other than that scenario hands WTR the Drivers' and Teams' titles. On the Manufacturers' front, go ahead and hand the crown to Cadillac.

Returning to the points, with a win paying 35 points, second offering 32, third giving 30, fourth providing 28 and fifth worth 26, the separation between victory and a decent run is minimal, and that's the problem every team other than WTR faces. If Ricky and Jordan Taylor do nothing more than live around the podium during the last five races, their 30-point advantage will survive intact.

whelenBased on their performances so far in 2017, taking a sixth or seventh win isn't such a crazy proposition, and for defending Prototype champion Dane Cameron who pilots the No. 31 AXR Cadillac with Eric Curran, the mission to retain his title has become simplified. Seconds and thirds won't get the job done – not this year.

"All we can do is get a couple of wins on the board and see where we sit at the end of the year," he told RACER. "Anything can happen. Typically, you don't see that many races won on the trot by anybody; it's not normal, for sure. They won the first five and we need to get the last five."

For fans of the Prototype class who've grown bored by one team dominating the top step of the podium, Cameron intends to correct the problem. Whether the Nos. 5 or 31 AXR cars can derail the WTR title train is a different matter.

"We feel like there were a lot of missed opportunities so far, and the only place I feel like we got our butt kicked was COTA," he said. "But that's all in the past now. We're coming up to a lot of tracks that are good for our team, so I don't see any reason why we won't come out guns blazing and go on a rampage.

"It's the same kind of thing like last year. We didn't win until Watkins Glen last year and finished 1-2 in the points, and it's a bit of an uphill battle now, so we'll put everything on the line to correct it. [WTR] might be a bit on conservation mode and we'll be on full attack, so that could help us."


lat lefebure cota 0916 10366cowardIMSA's PC class, and its tiny car count during the category's swan song, has embodied the tight points structure in place. By virtue of finishing third on three occasions and fourth another time, the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports entry is only 26 points behind the leading No. 38 Performance Tech PC car. Despite its four straight wins, the No. 38 will need another win or two to safely secure the final PC title, but there's little doubt Pato O'Ward and James French will seal the deal. It's just a matter of time.

GT Le Mans is IMSA's hotbed for full-fledged manufacturer battle and, in 2017, its hottest class for championship competition. Corvette Racing's No. 3 C7.R holds a slim six-point lead over the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT, 14 points over the No. 911 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR, and 16 over the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M6.

With 16 points covering the top four in GTLM, the class dynamic is at a wholly different place than the prototypes; Corvette, Ford, Porsche and BMW are in the midst of a hard fight for manufacturer supremacy and a big win or bad loss could shuffle the championship order.

"There is still the matter of the GTLM championship for Antonio [Garcia] and I," said Jan Magnussen, who shares the leading No. 3 C7.R with the Spaniard. "Watkins Glen is the type of track I really enjoy  fast with great flow and quick corners. We have had success there in the past so hopefully we can have another strong result and earn maximum points."

As the ones being stalked by the rest of the GTLM contenders, Garcia says being smart is the key going forward.

"The strategy and mindset will be a little different," he added. "Let's see how we are compared to our competition and see if we can keep our momentum going in the U.S. The whole of Corvette Racing has been very strong this year. We need to carry on doing the same things we have so far  no mistakes, good strategy and good driving."

Among the four classes, GT Daytona is the only one that sits somewhere in the middle of Prototype and GTLM in terms of separation and closeness. Where WTR holds a big lead over AXR and the rest of the class, and Corvette Racing has three rivals ready to pounce, GTD has two title contenders atop the class and a deep divide from third on down.

The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating has a little bit of breathing room nine points over Scuderia Corsa's Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3, and from there, the gap to third is worrisome.

sellersPaul Miller Racing's No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 is 27 points behind the No. 33 and 18 shy of the No. 63, which puts drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in a position similar to what Cameron and Curran have in Prototype. Catching the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari over the next seven rounds is entirely possible, but it will take perfection by the Paul Miller team and mistakes or misfortune with the No. 63. Taking down the Riley Mercedes will involve more perfection and an even bigger dose of adversity for the No. 33 program.

"It's hard to make points up, but the reason we're third is we've given points away at a couple of races and it was by little mistakes that caught us out," Sellers said. "And that could happen to other teams as well. We saw that with the No. 33 team at Detroit with a broken wheel, and with one more of those, and points can swing back your way.

Known as a spirited fighter, Sellers relished the thought of overtaking the Ferrari and Mercedes teams that stand in his way.

"The only way to get back in is to win, and that's the best perspective for a driver," he said. "It's giving it everything you have, and hopefully that makes us more threatening than we'd be otherwise. It is an uphill battle; the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari has been very limited in the mistakes they make, so we have to be ready to pounce at any given time. But we're in a good place. We need to win and win and get back within reach by Road Atlanta."

Once the Six Hours gets under way at Watkins Glen on Sunday (10 a.m. ET, Fox Sports 1, FS2 and IMSA.com), we'll know if Prototype and PC are all but done, if GTLM has a new leader, and if GTD has more than two in contention for the title.

"When you look at the big picture, it's amazing how some have gotten so far out in the standings at this point in the season," Sellers said. "But just as they managed to get that far ahead, there's a lot of racing left in all the classes for teams like ours to do the same thing and get ourselves into position to take it all at Petit Le Mans. We have a lot of miles still to cover and who knows what will happen."

ham vetThe FIA has confirmed it will further examine the clash between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Monday.

Vettel was hit with a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for dangerous driving after driving into the side of Hamilton while remonstrating with the Briton. Vettel was unhappy after claiming the Mercedes driver had brake tested him ahead of a Safety Car restart, with the championship leader running into the back of Hamilton on the exit of Turn 15.

With Hamilton having taken to team radio during the race to tell race director Charlie Whiting that "a 10-second penalty is not enough for driver behavior like that," the FIA has now confirmed it will be looking at whether any further sanctions are required at the start of next week.

"Following the recent incident at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in which Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) was involved in a collision with Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), on Monday 3rd July, the FIA will further examine the causes of the incident in order to evaluate whether further action is necessary," the FIA said in a statement. "A statement regarding the outcome of this process will be made available before the upcoming Austrian Grand Prix (7-9 July)."

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Vettel went on to finish fourth in the race in Baku on Sunday, with Hamilton finishing one place further back in fifth having had to complete an extra pit stop as a result of a loose headrest.

The 1997 European Grand Prix offers a precedent in terms of deliberate collisions, with Michael Schumacher's contact with Jacques Villeneuve initially being declared a racing incident by the stewards. Schumacher retired from the race while Villeneuve who had been overtaking the Ferrari for the lead finished third to secure the drivers' championship.

After the end of the season, the FIA disqualified Schumacher from second place in the championship having determined he deliberately turned in and hit Villeneuve's Williams, but did not impose any sanctions for the following season.

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I'm not sure the dust will ever fully settle from this one...

One of the most chaotic and entertaining grands prix in years threw up talking points galore. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen collided, again. The Force India drivers followed up their increased tension from Canada by coming together on track. Red Bull suffered another failure when Max Verstappen was well-placed, and Lance Stroll ended up on the podium with a drive that scarcely seemed possible earlier this year.

But the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix will forever be remembered for what happened towards the end of lap 19. You've all seen it by now, but the basic facts are that Sebastian Vettel ran into the back of Lewis Hamilton, and was enraged because he felt the collision was due to Hamilton braking heavily. Vettel then pulled alongside to remonstrate with the race leader, and swerved into the side of the Mercedes before racing resumed.

The FIA took a dim view of the incident at the time – although for my money, not dim enough – and handed Vettel a 10-second stop/go penalty for dangerous driving. With Hamilton later suffering a headrest problem, it ultimately cost the championship leader the race.

Before I get on my high horse, let me just state that I am a big fan of Vettel. I've often felt he didn't get enough credit for the consistently high level he produced to secure four consecutive championships from 2010-'13, and highlight his display when he first joined Ferrari in 2015 as further proof of his talent if anyone was still not convinced. On top of that, he is often humble, honest and full of good humor. When things are going well for him, at least...

But many of those traits disappeared in Baku, where Vettel completely lost control of his emotions. The FIA made clear it had not seen a difference between Hamilton's first race restart – where he caught Vettel out by accelerating out of Turn 16 – and the second. On both occasions, Hamilton was slowly cruising out of Turn 15, having taken over control of the field from the Safety Car.

I was providing the trackside commentary in Baku all weekend, and at the time of the second restart, I mentioned how Vettel would not be caught out again if Hamilton picked the same point to accelerate. Nobody expected anything to happen out of Turn 15, so I was already surprised to see Vettel hit the rear of the Mercedes, let alone what followed. The local host translating the race commentary had limited knowledge of Formula 1 but his face upon seeing the replay of the second collision said it all. For the vast majority, it was utter madness.

After the race, Vettel refused to acknowledge whether he had deliberately hit Hamilton or not. Having been given every opportunity to claim that it was accidental (if it was), the German instead opted to continue criticizing Hamilton for his race restart and dodging the question. Vettel was then told Hamilton felt the incident set a dangerous precedent for children watching the race, to which he replied: "I think F1 is for grown-ups."

To some extent, Vettel is right. In a perverse way we watch racing for the moments it goes wrong; for the spectacular crashes as much as the brilliant overtaking maneuvers, because the knowledge of how close to the edge the drivers are is what makes it so thrilling.

The problem is, Vettel was only close to the edge of his self-control at that moment in Baku, and he was on the wrong side of that line. This was not a robust passing move where contact is extremely difficult to avoid and a collision somewhat understandable. This was crawling along – for a Formula 1 car – at 30 mph. After the first contact, to remonstrate alongside Hamilton was not unreasonable if Vettel felt he had been wronged. To hit the Mercedes again was a completely unacceptable act of petulance.

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This is open-wheel racing. These cars are not designed for contact. Just one corner later and the whole field accelerated up to 230 mph to restart the race, with the two cars at the front having just come together, however slowly. Granted, the speed of the contact makes it unlikely – but not impossible – either car would have a serious failure, but one piece of debris falling off one of those two cars or a puncture as the race restarted could have had major consequences.

Having received some pretty strong opposition to my opinions, I actually ran a Twitter poll the next day. The vast majority shared my view that Vettel's actions were deliberate, and therefore a disqualification would have been a more appropriate course of action. There were still those that maintained that was an overreaction due to the speed of the collision, and that the stop/go penalty was more than enough because it cost him victory, but as with many walks of life it was a case of a noisy minority.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I'd point out the penalty was given before Hamilton had to pit with his loose headrest – up until that point, he'd looked comfortable at the front of the field. Had Vettel not hit Hamilton, there would have been less debris on the circuit and therefore less likelihood of the red flag that appeared to lead to the headrest problem, too.

But more importantly, the issue is not with the speed Vettel and Hamilton were going when the contact happened. What matters is, to quote Christian Horner, Vettel's "Tourettes moment," when the "red mist" came down and he lost the ability to restrain himself behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. We've seen it before with his radio messages to Charlie Whiting in Mexico, and it is worrying.

Heat of the moment is one thing. That is why there is a tolerance of certain radio messages and an acceptance of a driver sometimes having an irrational view from within the cockpit. But there comes a point where there is no excuse, where there is no potential positive outcome and the punishment must fit the crime. There should be zero tolerance for deliberately hitting another driver.

I may not always agree with it, but there are times when I admire Vettel's take-no-prisoners approach, such as the Multi-21 incident in Malaysia in 2013. At the next race, instead of coming out and apologizing, Vettel doubled down and said if he'd gone back in time he would have ignored the team order again as he felt he deserved victory more than teammate Mark Webber.

However, after Sunday's race Vettel's lack of accountability did him no favors. The championship leader had seen the incident back on the big screens during the red flag period, and yet questioned the penalty he received and did not accept he was wrong to react in the way he did.

And Hamilton is right that young drivers look up to their heroes and want to emulate them. They want to be a multiple F1 world champion, and now they've seen how one reacts when they are angry in the cockpit...

There is currently talk of an FIA intervention, but either way, what Vettel does next is crucial. In Austria, Vettel should own up and apologize for his reaction, even if he wants to maintain Hamilton was at fault for their initial collision. The championship leader needs to learn from his mistakes and control himself better when fired up behind the wheel, otherwise it could serve to undermine his chances in a title battle we all want to see.

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DJ5R6516Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has described the collision between his two drivers in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as "unacceptable."

SzafnauerSergio Perez was running fourth and attacking Felipe Massa for third place after the second Safety Car restart when Esteban Ocon tried to overtake his Force India teammate on the exit of Turn 1. Ocon got down the inside of Turn 2 where the pair touched wheels but then they collided more heavily exiting the corner, causing substantial damage to both cars.

The incident cost the team a chance of a double podium and came just two weeks after Perez refused to move over for Ocon in Canada. Asked by RACER if Force India will need to manage the situation more closely, Szafnauer (pictured) replied: "Yeah, the worst thing that you can do is hit your teammate because it gives other teams opportunities that they really shouldn't have had.

"So [in Baku] it's a bit tricky too because it's a street circuit. Anywhere else Checo [Perez] would have been able to move over a bit and they would have been fine but there's a wall there, so...

"We'll definitely review it and in a professional manner talk to the drivers and say, 'Look, this is unacceptable, we can't be running into each other.' It's bad enough if you run into a competitor because it can damage your race, but not your teammate because then you take them both out. They understand that; they are intelligent guys."

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Szafnauer's immediate reaction was that Ocon was the more responsible of the two drivers, having squeezed Perez on the exit of Turn 2.

"I was looking at it and it's 50/50, 55/45. I've got to review it some more but Checo didn't get the start he should've at the restart, Esteban got a better restart but then Esteban didn't give him enough room.

"They touched when Esteban was on the inside and that was fine. Esteban was ahead of Checo when they hit but at the same time I don't think there's any place for Checo to go at that point. He's got to give him a little bit more room."

Although Daniel Ricciardo won the race having been behind both Force India cars at the time of the collision, Szafnauer doesn't believe the team missed out on its first race victory in Baku.

"I don't think so. I thought so, but I don't think so now. [Sebastian] Vettel got his penalty due to the first restart, so we would have beaten him. Ricciardo we would have beaten, but without us causing the red flag, [Lewis] Hamilton's headrest wouldn't have come off so he would have won it. So would've, could've, should've, whatever, we still would have been second and third."

lat abbott Iowa 0716 2675Five Verizon IndyCar Series team kept busy after last weekend's race at Road America by making a quick trip to Iowa Speedway for a day of testing ahead of the July 8-9 Iowa Corn 300.

Andretti Autosport's four Honda-powered drivers, Dale Coyne's pair of Hondas, two Ed Carpenter Racing Chevys, one Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and both Schmidt Peterson Racing Hondas lapped the 0.875-mile oval. Of the 11 drivers in attendance, Ed Carpenter (pictured above) and teammate JR Hildebrand are said to have led the group by a comfortable margin.

"It was a good day," Hildebrand told RACER. "We unloaded and felt pretty good because we were fast here last year and got what we expected when we rolled out."

As the defending winners of the race with former ECR driver Josef Newgarden, Carpenter and Hildebrand had strong baseline chassis setups to start with, but with a change in Iowa tire specification from Firestone since the 2016 event, most of the day was spent integrating the new rubber.

"The left-side tires are different this year, and by the sound of it, everybody was having to make some changes to get them to a place that worked with the setups they had," Hildebrand added. "We had to make some adjustments, but I think the race will be similar to last year.

iowa action"Looking at Josef's data from '16, there was some [tire life] fall-off and it's about how you manage that degradation. I think the second lane always comes in there and people will start using it early on in practice so it will be ready for use in the race. You're probably going to see the usual deal of guys using either lane based on their tire situation."

Without Chip Ganassi Racing and its four Hondas, Team Penske and its four Chevys, or A.J. Foyt Racing and its pair of Chevys at the test, Hildebrand says making predictions on who will be fastest at the next IndyCar race is a bit of a challenge. He's sure of one thing, though, and it's the value of learning the new Firestone rubber ahead of race weekend.

"It's always a little hard to tell who's going come out ahead," he said. "There's a feeling the Chevys have a little advantage in the short oval spec like we did at Phoenix, but there were some Andretti cars that went fast. Without Penske being there, it's hard to know how to feel about it, but it was a productive day working on the new tires."

Lap 1After an impressively solid debut season in 2016, year two for Haas F1 is about carefully-managed forward progress. And the early signs are looking good...

Look up the term "second-season syndrome" and you'll find countless examples of how difficult it is to back up an impressive debut, whatever the sport. Increased expectations and a near-inevitable regression to the mean combine to make a repeat performance exponentially more challenging.

From a Formula 1 team standpoint, second-season syndrome is somewhat rarer, but that's broadly due to the lack of success most new teams experience when first entering the category. Massive car manufacturers and tiny independents alike have largely found their debuts to be testing, so the achievements of Haas F1 when it joined the grid a little over 12 months ago were all the more remarkable.

Lap 4After bursting onto the scene with two top-six finishes in its first two starts, Haas F1 then struggled for consistency, but scored an impressive 29 points and finished above the likes of Renault and Sauber in the F1 Constructors' Championship. With Ferrari as a technical partner and major component supplier, the team's VF-16 still delivered points as late in the season as the United States Grand Prix.

Following that in season two was always going to be tough, but Gene Haas knows racing from his Stewart-Haas partnership in NASCAR and is taking a patient approach. When Haas F1 first morphed from dream to reality, the experienced Guenther Steiner was made team principal and the F1-savvy Austrian is keen to keep targets flexible while it's still such early days in the journey.

"There's always a plan when you want to develop something, but in F1 it's very difficult to do anything longer than three years because things are changing so quickly," Steiner says. "You need to have a base plan: you want to grow a team, you know how many people you want, you want your business model to work. But to make a plan such as, 'In year four I want to be second,' that doesn't really work.

"I think we've got a plan for five years that we want to grow as a team, not in quantity, but in quality – that we do things better. For sure, quantity also comes with it, but there's not a defined plan that says if we're not at a certain stage at a certain time, then we've failed and we stop."

The early signs from 2017 are of a more consistently competitive Haas F1 that will challenge for points on a regular basis. Having delayed its entry by a year to be fully prepared for 2016, its performance so far in '17 is perhaps the greater achievement. Why? Because it confirms the team's ability to develop a car in tandem with racing – the essential F1 juggling act.

"We said in year one we want to score points, be respected, not make too many mistakes and not be an embarrassment, because there were enough of them..." Steiner admits. "I think we achieved that. Year two we want to get better – or at least, not get worse. But I think after the first few races we can say it's happening.

"There is still a long way to go and we can still do a lot of things wrong, but it's not in our plan to do them wrong! We want to keep on growing and just see where it takes us. Then we can make some plans after the first four races on where we want to be next year, and what we need to improve to make the next step to get better.

"It's the same as we did last year. After the first four races we decided where we would put our focus, and we will do the same for the year after, too. We know this year where our focus is and what we're doing, but the year after we see what we want to do better to have a better result."

Lap 3Gene Haas agrees with Steiner's approach to targets. But the team owner sees a clear pattern to how last year went and what the team has been able to learn from it to strengthen itself this time around.

"I think in the beginning of the year we exceeded our expectations," he says. "In the middle of the year we had a little bit of a slump, and the reality came to be in the last part of the season where it was really very difficult to get any points at all.

"I actually think developing this car [the VF-17] went pretty well. A lot of engineering now has to be compressed into a short period of time, so inevitably you don't do things as well as if you had more time. We're already looking at changes we want to make in the next upgrade cycle."

On the technical front, part of last year's performance path was the result of a lack of updates being introduced in order to build knowledge with a stable platform. This year there will be a full upgrade plan in place now that the team has that initial experience under its belt.

From a team ownership point of view, the main goal for Haas was to increase the global awareness and reputation of his machine tool company. While that has been successful so far, the difficulty with elite sport is maintaining a high-end image.

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AN7T4565Lewis Hamilton says one positive aspect of his clash with Sebastian Vettel in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is the suggestion that the championship leader is "obviously under pressure."

Vettel drove into the side of Hamilton ahead of a Safety Car restart while remonstrating with the race leader after feeling he had been brake tested by the Mercedes driver. While Vettel received a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident, he still extended his championship lead after finishing fourth, one position ahead of Hamilton.

Despite the disappointing result, when Hamilton was asked if he can exploit Vettel's lack of composure at times, the Briton replied: "I think that's been kind of obvious for some time now.

"If you look at last year, some of the things he came and said on the radio, so we know how he can be. I honestly would never have thought that would happen [in Baku], but we as a team can only look at that as a positive for us. He is obviously under pressure and that's not a bad thing  that shows that pressure can get to even some of the best of us."

The two championship rivals had enjoyed a positive relationship so far this season prior to the incident in Baku, and Hamilton says he will try to keep the fight between the two as clean as possible.

"No, definitely.... [In Baku] was obviously a different Sebastian that we've seen than in those [first seven] races. I'd like to think I remained respectful and I will continue to do so, because I will do the talking on the track and win this championship the right way."

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When it was put to Hamilton that Vettel intends to call him ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix to speak about the incident, he replied: "Firstly, he doesn't have my number!

"For me I'm just going to do my talking on the track, that's most important for me. I've heard what he said after the race and it seems kind of... I've not come out of the race and pointed the finger or said anything necessarily; it is what it is.

"It happened and I don't think it was right but the biggest thing for me is that I lost the race through the headrest issue, so... All I'm thinking of is getting my head together and I want to kill it in the last 12 races  I want to win the next 12 races."

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Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag as presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.

Your questions for Robin should continue to be sent to millersmailbag@racer.com We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here.

Q: Am I the only IndyCar fan who finds Dixon boring? I have a great deal of respect for his talent and I don't dislike the guy, I just find him boring. It seems to me if you wanted to tell a young driver how to not stand out in the media and how to say all the right things, you'd be able to pull any interview Dixon has ever given. The guy thanked all the fans for coming out to Indy after flying far enough to make Evel Knievel jealous. Maybe PT can give him some pointers.

Going into Road America, I figured there were seven drivers with a good legitimate shot at the title. I think I'd rather see any of the other six win. Oh well, on to Iowa where we get the short oval aero package, and that should be good for some good, old-fashioned Bowtie butt-kicking like Phoenix. I'll pick Helio for the title. I'm not a fan, but his qualifying has been so strong this year that all he has to do is manage how many spots he loses in the race to claim the championship. (I believe he has finished worse than where he has qualified everywhere but Indy, and only Texas was a result of an incident)

Ryan in West Michigan

P.S. I picked up the V8 Supercars Superview season pass this year (Cost $32, and I can steam all the races live or on-demand). I've been watching Simona de Silvestro closely. I know how talented she is and I don't know if she has inferior equipment or what, but she has looked way out of her depth this year. I was hoping to see progressive improvement. I'm guessing the door to Indy is closed, but it would be great if we could see her back in an IndyCar.

RM: Scott has been tabbed "The Ice Man", but that's because of his demeanor inside the car and precision at speed. Dixie has a marvelous sense of humor and sense of balance, and during the past few years has become one of the best interviews because of his candor. He's also very good with the fans. He's one of the best drivers of the past 30 years, and he's relatively unknown because of his low-key persona and keeping his emotions in check. He chose not to talk to us at Texas right after the accident rather than ripping Takuma Sato publicly, and you can imagine the headlines a lot of other drivers would have made in the same situation. I don't label him boring or flamboyant, but he can suck the air out of a race with his methodical domination at times. As for Helio, he's driving as well as he ever has at age 42 and has done everything but win this season, but I imagine his future is driving RP's new sports car and running the Indy 500. I think we all wish Simona still drove IndyCars, but she had to go where she could make a living.

Q: Was it the three-stop strategy (with required fuel saving) for the race that negated Penske's edge in qualifying? Aside from Dixon's talent, that is the only explanation that I can come up with for their reversal of fortunes on Sunday.

Kirby, Indianapolis

RM: No, it was a couple things. Newgarden was leading comfortably when he made his second pit stop and took on black tires. But then the yellow flag came out a couple laps later, and Dixon had jumped into second place on the red option tires. It was the break he'd been waiting to get all season, and on the lap 30 restart he muscled his way past Josef and into the lead. His talent kept him there despite the fact Newgarden was probably quicker. They both made three stops, they both pitted one lap longer than everyone else, and they finished a few feet apart.

Q: What a thrill to have been at Road America. My wife and I thought the crowd was as big, or bigger, than last year. What did you think? We also watched the video of Kanaan's wreck, where he blamed Rossi. We didn't see anything that Rossi did wrong. Rossi also defended himself. What did you see? Give us more Road Americas and less Texas.

Paul, Indianapolis

RM: No, the crowd was down all weekend, and on race day, and instead of 50,000 last Sunday it was between 30,000-35,000 – still a damn good turnout. And with the $100 ticket returning in 2018, I think it will be a mob again. I was heading for the hospital to try and interview T.K. so I never saw the accident, but Townsend Bell was adamant that Rossi was paying Kanaan back for an earlier shove in Turn 5. Kanaan said it was a block that cost him a left-front wing and sent him into the wall, while Rossi said T.K. misjudged the closing distance and clipped his wing.


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Q: Conor Daly has written some cryptic tweets after recent races like "that's all I can say about it." Is there something going on behind the scenes with Conor and the AJ Foyt Team? Engineer problems? Lack of funds to get new or the best components? Getting the worst of the Chevy engines? Or just stretched too thin? Would hate to see the second Foyt team become a career-killer.

Allen J. Cradler, Brownsburg, IN.

RM: I think when you are almost two mph slower down those long Road America straightaways than your teammate it's obviously frustrating, but drivers are always careful about being politically correct when it comes to manufacturers. Conor has endured one mechanical problem or glitch after another this season, and I think he's done a good job of being a good soldier in a difficult situation. He's a much better racer than his performances show.

Q: Oh look, a race promoter who demands date equity, a starting time that makes sense for the fans, a sensible ticket price, and bingo, a successful race weekend. Perhaps the people that run this series will take note of the results at Elkhart Lake. I know, let's start the race at RA very late on a Sunday afternoon to see how this affects the fan turnout. And they wonder how Milwaukee failed?

Dale C.

RM: George Bruggenthies always said he'd bring IndyCar back to Road America under the right circumstances, and you just named them. He's a smart guy and I'd love to see him take a run at Milwaukee and somehow package the Wisconsin races back-to-back with a super (reasonable) ticket.

Q: Before the start of the Kohler GP at Road America, George Bruggenthies announced that IndyCar would be back at Road America in June 2018. I wasn't surprised that they would be back as much as I was surprised that this race is on a year-to-year contract. With the fanfare of IndyCar being back at the best road course in North America and monster crowds, why isn't this race on a long-term contract? Is a long-term contract a possibility? Call me paranoid (this is IndyCar after all), but after waiting far too long for IndyCar to return to Road America, I would hate to not have this race on the schedule in the future.

PS Great call on the Dixon win!

Zach, Neenah, WI

RM: From Big George's lips to you: "The deal we made with IndyCar was for three years, and we are now talking about 2019 and beyond."

Q: This is a two-part question. Do you think Castroneves would have even a hint of his successes – 29 wins, three Indy 500s and 50 poles – with anyone other than Penske? He is blessed to have been with an amazing team for most of his career. He has never won a championship, and whenever the s*&^ hits the fan in a race (penalty, his blocking doesn't work and someone gets past him) he always fades, which speaks to mental strength. To not win a championship with Penske for how many years says volumes. I think Helio is a blip on the CART, IndyCar radar history without Penske.

I heard your recap in regards to the rumor about Chevrolet pursuing Andretti for "bullets in their gun." Hell, remember, it was only last year that everyone was saying Honda had no bullets in their gun. First off, I have been hard on Andretti in your Mailbag for as long as I can remember, and will continue to be until they start producing like a Big 3 team should. Besides the Indy 500 and Long Beach ,where have they been a true contender for a win? As I said in an earlier question, I think Andretti puts all his eggs in the Indy 500 basket for the prestige and the money involved to stay solvent. The team has underachieved year after year, aside from the Indy 500. I say, let Chevy pursue Andretti, as I don't think their "bullet count" will be as good as they think. It's not the number of bullets in the gun, it's the quality of the bullets in the gun.

Josh R., Salem, OR

RM: Obviously, considering the strife in open-wheel racing for the past 20 years, to be able to run most of your career with Team Penske has been a godsend for Castroneves. He was on his way to sign with Morris Nunn when The Captain summoned him after Greg Moore was killed at Fontana in 1999. And he might have been a spur-of-the-moment pick back then, but The Captain doesn't keep you for 18 seasons unless you produce. Indy means a lot more to R.P. than any championship, and Helio has usually excelled there. Not sure you can get any closer to No.4 than he has, and this year his driving has been top-notch. Is he one of the all-time greats? No. But he's been pretty damn good for a long time. As for the Andretti to Chevy rumor? Rob Edwards said there was "absolutely nothing to it," and Honda didn't comment on the record but didn't seem too concerned.


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Q: I just watched the RACER video interview with Max Chilton. I have been really impressed with him this year, however in the interview he said "if he comes back next year." What can you tell us about him not returning? He has improved a lot since last year, I would be disappointed if he did not return for a third season.

Chris Foos

RM: Not sure, but possibly sports cars in Europe. I believe his lovely wife-to-be is a model, so that could also play a part in his decision. Max has come on strong the past few months and I think we all hope he and his dad help Trevor Carlin start up an IndyCar team, but probably too early to know.

Q: IndyCar races are becoming unwatchable. There are clearly two sets of rules for how you can race depending on what team you are on. I'm writing this on Lap 8 of the race and Graham Rahal has been penalized for "blocking," yet Will Power has forced Dixon off the track twice with not a peep from anyone. Now you may say that Graham forced Dixon into the grass and there was pavement outside of the corners where Power forced Dixon off, but that's not what the definition of track limits is. The track limits are defined by those white lines on either side of the track, and Power forced Dixon to go four wheels beyond those while he only had to go two behind Rahal. And it wasn't even as if Power had the corner, because Dixon was fully along side through the apex and could have pulled ahead had he not been forced off. Please tell me why I should continue to watch these races when the officiating is different for every team?

Andy, Lexington Ohio

RM: I thought the Rahal call was strange, because he had to give up a spot to Pagenaud for blocking Dixon. Graham had made a nifty pass of Pagenaud for fifth place in the first turn and didn't block him, while Dixon didn't lose a position after getting shoved into the grass, but Rahal never said anything on the radio. I thought Helio blocked worse than Power on one occasion, but nothing was called. And Ryan Hunter-Reay wasn't too happy with the block Charlie Kimball threw on him, so just be consistent if you are Race Control. But I don't want to see non-stop calls and the race being ruined. Sometimes it's just racing, and you need to keep watching because it's usually worth it.

Q: It's early Sunday morning and I'm scouring as much IndyCar news as I can find, in particular, to read whether IndyCar has listened to all the talk from the drivers and teams that the pending 55-lap race will be another fuel-conservation exercise – increasing the race length from last year's 50 by just five laps isn't enough. The TV window is plenty long enough to accommodate five more laps, and it would be in the best interest of everyone and his dog to listen to the teams and make this an actual race, so I just can't understand why IndyCar hasn't even said they'd consider it. The weather forecast has only a 20 percent chance of a "stray shower," so that's not a factor. It's seems like it's such an easy decision with everything to gain and nothing to lose, except credibility, faith and reputation, but, who's worried about that any more?

Rick in Toronto

RM: From IndyCar's Brian Barnhart: "Our engine group made the recommendation based on information from the manufacturers from 2016. What we have found is both Chevy and Honda have made significant improvements over the winter, along with their reluctance to be open and honest about their mileage, so we didn't achieve the desired effect. By the time we found out, it was too late to change. Not a fan of mileage races, and we will continue to look at them and try to eliminate them if possible."

And my own two cents is there were three and four-stop strategies, but it didn't affect the outcome because the two fastest guys battled to the end for the victory and both were three-stoppers. Personally I wish the tanks still carried 75 gallons of fuel and the phrases "fuel mileage and saving fuel" would be banned forever.

Q: I am a loyal reader and admire your passion and commitment. If any course seems appropriate for local cautions, it would be a four-mile road course. But both cautions were full-course. What gives?

Scott from Wooster

RM: Well T.K.'s was a big hit, lots of debris and immediate concern about whether he was injured, so you have to dispatch the Holmatro crew and slow down the field – that full course caution was a no-brainer. Sato didn't hit anything, but again, to fetch his car and get him restarted requires getting the safety team to the site, and there are only three trucks and three places they're stationed, so you can't have people running 185 mph and then slowing down for a few seconds as they pass the accident. BTW, there were several situations where debris was retrieved from Turns 5, 12 and the front stretch, but the yellow was never thrown because there was enough time for the safety team to retrieve it and get back in position before the field came around.


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Q: Is Esteban Gutierrez going to be in IndyCar past the end of this year? If Bourdais is coming back, would he drive for Coyne or another team? Would he be a good enough draw to get a good crowd in Mexico City, or is the oval in Puebla more likely if IndyCar returns to Mexico? Also, is Penske going to drop a car when Helio retires?

Andrew, Chester Springs, PA

RM: Probably depends on how he fares the next couple months and whether there's anything available in F1, but I imagine if he's still got money he'll have a shot with Coyne. He might be a big enough name to sell tickets in Mexico City so you could run that great road course, and I know IndyCar and/or Ganassi were talking with Carlos Slim about a race a couple years ago before it went quiet. Have no idea what The Captain's plans are, but as good as Helio is running, I can't imagine him being dropped in 2018.

Q: What is RC Enerson doing? Do you think he has a future in the big league? It looked like he had some talent – or does he need a fat wallet to get his foot in the door? Is there ever going to be a support race for Pocono? They could use the road course for Pro Mazda, or the Stadium Trucks with Robbie Gordon.

Dino from New Hanover, Pa.

RM: "RC showed up at Daytona and did the 24 Hour in a Prototype, but hasn't been seen much since. I spotted him at the Indy 500 behind the F1 garages, but he was too far away. He certainly showed some talent in brief outings with Coyne last year, but not enough to have teams blowing up his phone." – Marshall Pruett.

Q: Is having the podium cars pull up into Victory Lane right in front of the podium something new this past weekend, or is my memory failing me? Either way, having the podium cars lined up next to each other after the race is something I liked to see, rather than the only thing differentiating P2 and P3 after the race from P4-P21 being a Firestone hat they get to wear in the pit lane. Also, while we're talking about the podium, do you think a little more emphasis on the podium rather than only on the winning driver is something the series should look into?

Mike, Alabama

RM: It was the first time I ever remember seeing it, so maybe it's a new thing for IndyCar, although not every Victory Lane could accommodate three cars. And I think the winner should always get the most attention, but second and third are duly recognized.

Q: With the news of a potential street race in Nashville in 2019, I was wondering how IndyCar revenue works? I know they charge sites a sanctioning fee, then the promoter takes the revenue – less their expenses, of course. Sponsorship money obviously drives all teams, and sponsorship dollars follow TV ratings. IndyCar ratings are essentially static (other than Indy and races rebroadcast after NASCAR events). I know there is obviously a fixed cost to run a car/team, and then a variable cost based on races, available resources and willingness to use those resources (profitability).

I'm wondering what drives site selection most at the IndyCar top level: attendance or TV viewership? Streets races are more expensive to run for a promoter but also a much bigger pot (multiple days of tickets, more attendees). I'm sure Detroit loves two races on a weekend, but I'm guessing ratings tend to sag for one of the races. I know there was a time where CART was running very profitable street races at the promoter level but hemorrhaging money everywhere else. I love roads and street events. They tend to have a more festival atmosphere which is great, the racing tends to be less interesting than being at a good oval like Indy and Milwaukee. Is there any talk of reviving some of the old filled venues like Baltimore, Portland, Cleveland and of course Milwaukee? I know the state is auditing Milwaukee's books, but any idea why Milwaukee struggled to turn a profit? Up until the last couple of years it had nice crowds? I'd love for the Mile to return and to the week after Indy. It's the race that should be there. The racing was always great.

Joe Jurek, Chief Strategist, Team Stache

RM: Your first question would require 5,000 words to explain so we'll tackle the other ones. What drives a site for IndyCar is whether the promoter can make it. Obviously, the attendance at most ovals is dismal and there is no TV money like NASCAR, so it's up to the promoter to find a good title sponsor or IndyCar must be the co-promoter like they were at Phoenix. Street races come and go like worn-out mechanics, and they may be able to draw more paying customers and generate more sponsorship, but they are very expensive. Baltimore was packed and lost millions,so it also requires a smart plan. Milwaukee didn't draw well at all from 2000 on, and starting races at 4 p.m. was a big problem, but mostly it was a financial flop. Randy Bernard gave it to Michael Andretti for free (no sanctioning fee) and it still wasn't close to being profitable. Portland is the only one with a shot right now.

Q: Is Gateway's repave going to improve the racing? I know it needs to be done on account of the track breaking up at the test, but they did make it through the Truck race without an issue. Will the show at Gateway mirror the Phoenix race, or has IndyCar/Firestone prepared something to change the game? I love Gateway and hope it stays around a while. It's a weird track by today's standards, but that's what IndyCar needs – technical, low-banked tracks with long straights. It shows an IndyCar's speed, and the drivers ability to navigate two completely different corners without giving up much of that speed. Side note: The Truck race drew a very nice crowd, and rumor outta the ticket office is IndyCar is right on pace for the same size crowd in August. I'd say 20,000 was the initial goal, and they will be there easy.

Matt, Marshall, MO

RM: Absolutely because if they didn't we might have had a caution every other lap for a cut tire. But I think Gateway, IndyCar and Firestone are working towards making sure the return race is as good as it can be given the timeframe and limited testing after the re-pave. It's always been a racy track and I watched the truck race and was very impressed with the attendance so hopefully IndyCar can be even better.


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Q: I spent the past week following USAC Sprints through the PA Eastern Storm. The racing was awesome as always! Talked to a lot of fans while taking pictures, sitting in the stands, etc. I often talk IndyCar, since I inevitably have some piece of Indy 500 apparel on. Local folks are always amazed when I tell them how cheap the tickets are for the 500, Pocono, The Glen, etc., and that for a nominal fee on top of that (or not, at the Glen,) they can get full garage area access. I found out this week that a USAC pit pass costs more than a similar pit pass at Pocono for IndyCar on Saturday!

These folks are race fans and they know enough about IndyCar to know that they'd probably like to attend a race sometime. They just aren't aware that it's affordable. A lot of people want to pin this on IndyCar or the tracks, but I think guys like myself have to get the word out. Word of mouth will always be the most powerful advertisement. Too often it seems like the hardcore fans of IndyCar want to complain about everything instead of looking at the incredible positives and accessibility you can find at the racetrack, not to mention the excellent coverage you and the rest of NBC Sports Network provide on TV. Maybe fans can help more than they think? I'm sure some of the people I talked to this week will at least consider a trip to Pocono. I think that's how you're going to make new fans. Get butts in the seats.

Dave Long, Reading, PA

RM: Thanks for spreading the word, Dave. I know Pocono and The Glen both have some special ticket/pit pass offers that people may not know about, and I just wrote a story about the $100 ticket for four days at Road America returning for next year's race. It would be worth it for IndyCar to assemble some kind of a flyer listing all the prices and deals for its races prior to the season, or at least run some kind of promo or ad on its website to make fans aware. I do think the perception is that IndyCar races are too expensive but that's just not the case.

Q: I've seen a proposed layout for the Nashville course. It looks dreadful – short, tight, flat. A layout completely negating the power and maneuverability of an IndyCar? Are the drivers and race teams ever consulted in the designing of new circuits, or is just down to the money men and promoters?

Anthony Jenkins

RM: Yes it does, and what we've learned (what we should have learned) from The Meadowlands and Houston is that racing around football fields might have been good for midgets at Joliet 50 years ago, but it's not IndyCar's cup of tea. Of course, if you have a willing promoter and a title sponsor like Firestone in a lively city, then you probably have a good chance to get a date. And this sounds more like a week-long party/music event with an IndyCar race thrown in, but it sure would have been cool to try and use the course that Tony Cotman drew up through downtown. As for driver input, at a street course I think it's usually asked for after the design and during the construction.

Q: I couldn't stop watching Texas. Too bad about the wrecks, but at least no one was hurt! Do the IndyCar teams have to buy their bodywork from Dallara, or can the build their own/contract it out? Might be a cost-saving there? And are you and the NBC crew going to be in Toronto? I got my tickets. Oh and IndyCar should go to Mosport, I do the campout for IMSA and it's the best weekend! You combine camping, BBQ and racing!

Frank, Toronto

RM: No the bodywork is purchased from Honda and Chevrolet, so they're the only suppliers. NBCSN will be in Toronto and I'd like to see IndyCar in Mosport, Montreal and Calgary some day.

Q: Any good A.J. stories from his trip to Le Mans last week? How did Ford convince Foyt to go back to Le Mans after 50 years? Certainly it wasn't for the French food. Also loved your video on the Foyt dictionary. When you interviewed him on Wind Tunnel in 2009, I volunteered to keep score for Greg Leary on A.J's favorite expressions. The tally was as follows: "This is Quite True" (four times), "To be quite truthful" (seven), "All in all" (twice) and "Misfortunate" (0). Having A.J. on Wind Tunnel: priceless.

Mike, Vernon Hills, IL

RM: Biggest shocker since Tex started wearing tennis shoes, but I think Edsel Ford was the big reason and only reason the '67 co-winner returned to France. He said he lost 20 pounds because he couldn't eat any of that $%*# and he caught a cold, and that's his last trip across The Pond – until I convince him to go to Goodwood. I also heard that when Ford first approached him about the trip, one of his conditions was that he have a hotel room with a bathroom so he wouldn't have to keep walking down the hallway like he did in '67. But I'm told he actually had a good time, and he was smiling in just about every photo I saw, and he even got back behind the wheel of the GT40. So, to be quite truthful with you all, I think he had a better time than he let on.

Q: You're a gambling man. How about getting Draft Kings involved with IndyCar? It could work just like the fantasy thing the IndyCar web site has. Would be nice to put some coin on these races. I would think it would help get some more eyeballs on them too.

Greg, Indianapolis

RM: IndyCar says it's exploring the possibility of doing something with Draft Kings, and all that would do is increase interest, because if people can bet on it, they'll watch it.

Q: I find myself gravitating ever more to online streaming of racing events. In fact, streaming subscriptions for various racing series and events have reached a point where the choices are far greater then what the racing fan can possibly take in. Do you think that we are seeing the way the fan accesses racing changing, and fewer fans needing – or wanting – to attend the track? For the IndyCar series, getting MSNBC is quite costly because of the need to upgrade to a cable package. The annual cost of the cable package is just about equal to three annual subscriptions to various on-line racing services. Needless to say, a no-brainer as which way to go for value to cost.

Loren D.

RM: I think in some cases, like practice days at Indianapolis, the trend has become to watch the live, on-line streaming because it's so convenient. And I imagine someday soon we'll see a sanctioning body either forget TV altogether or partner with Amazon (like it did with the NFL) to stream the races live.


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Q: Happened to catch a bit of the NASCAR Camping World trucks at Iowa, and saw Sam Hornish having another tough race. Leaving IndyCar has certainly not worked out for Hornish in terms of success – has the financial side been the reason? For a time, he was Penske's Will Power. I believed then that he'd end up with multiple Indy 500s and championships. Do you agree, or was his success in the IRL mainly because of the lesser quality of competition? How do you think Hornish would have performed if he'd been in IndyCar the last 10 years instead of NASCAR?

Michael M.

RM: Sam had a knack for those IRL pack races and, obviously, open-wheel racing was weakened by The Split. but he held up quite well against Penske, Ganassi, Rahal and Andretti after they bailed on CART. Matter of fact, he won the 2002 title against his future boss. And he actually made great strides as a road racer after joining The Captain, but he was never going to beat Dario, Dixon, Helio or Gil in road racing. And after he won Indy in 2006, R.P. asked him to try stock cars, and the timing was right because he'd done everything in open-wheel, and you don't refuse R.P. Sure, he struggled in Cup like many IndyCar guys have, but he seemed quite comfortable in the Busch/Xfinity series, and has won a couple times. Had he stayed with Team Penske in IndyCar, I imagine he'd have won at least one more Indy 500 and been tough at Iowa, Texas, Phoenix and Pocono.

Q: Will the new TV contract start in 2018 or 2019? Really hoping to see the entire schedule on NBC. I think it would make a difference in the ratings and it would give NBC the ability to strategically schedule the races around F1 and NASCAR to potentially optimize the TV ratings.

Nick from San Diego

RM: The contracts are up following the 2018 season but I know some people (alright most people who care about IndyCar) are hoping NBC can somehow buy out ABC's last year and have all the races next season.

Q: I read Marshall Pruett's article about new electronics for 2018. Will IndyCar rules allow the current Dallara chassis to be acquired and used next year, alongside the 2018 chassis? If the rules allowed the use of the "old" chassis, might potential new owners and teams find the front-end investment a bit less intense?

Chuck Lynch, Greenville, SC

RM: The chassis isn't changing, just the aero kits, so none of this year's bodywork or aero stuff would be allowed in 2018. And I'm told that Honda and Chevy will be paying for the universal aero kits. I know what you're saying, but the days of buying a-year-old Penske or two-year-old Eagle and making the Indy 500 are long gone.

Q: After watching the F1 race at Azerbaijan which was red-flagged to clean debris, and seeing the amount of debris flying at Road America, I've been wondering how structurally sound the universal aero kit is going to be? There's less winglets and such, so there's definitely less to be broken off the cars, but if the new wings and endplates aren't made much stronger than the current kits, they'll be falling off anyway. There may be less debris coming off the cars, but I'm wondering if the tracks will be littered just as easily. I don't remember seeing so much debris with the pre-2012 Dallara or the DW12 with the stock bodywork.

Aaron, Huntsville, AL

RM: From Bill Pappas, IndyCar's VP of competition and race engineering: "The plan in designing the UAK (universal aero kit) was to reduce the number of parts. The reason is to reduce the inventory the teams will have and replace when they crash and the parts will be made of hybrid materials that should reduce the debris field."

Q: Glad to see you and NBCSN back in the saddle. Keep up the good work. Love the Mailbag, too. A quick query about Texas. I remember the Champ Cars having to cancel their scheduled race 'way back in the day because the drivers were suffering red mist or something from the G forces and speed. Yet now they race fine at high speeds. What changed? Was the track redone, are the cars that much slower? Are the drivers more fit? Does the promoter cast a magic anti-physics spell? Good race at Road America, too. I heard repeatedly that Roger Penske wasn't on hand for once but didn't hear why. Is he okay?

Jim Bray, Calgary

RM: The CART race that didn't happen at Texas in 2001 bore no resemblance to the IndyCar race of 2017. I believe Paul Tracy had a practice lap of 236mph, and Kenny Brack was on the pole at 231mph, and the G-forces were off the chart. TMS has also changed in that Turns 1-2 are more open and less banked now, and while 223 mph in a mile-and-a-half is certifiable, thinking about adding 8-13mph is insane. Mo Gugelmin crashed in Turn 2 and stopped in Turn 4, and some drivers said they were dizzy and close to blacking out, so after discussing taking away the wings or the turbochargers or putting a chicane in the backstretch, CART opted to cancel and TMS opted to sue (who could blame them?). The Captain is just fine, reportedly working on a big business deal overseas.

Q: Are you aware of any acknowledgement from Tony George or those at IMS supporting the split that it was a disastrous decision for open-wheel racing in America?

Kevin, Greenville, NC

RM: No Kevin most of those IRL zealots and history revisionists have moved on, moved out or become evangelists. And I seriously think Tony still believes he had a good idea, but not the proper execution or support group. We did a radio show together a few years ago, and I don't recall him backing off his vision.

Q: In regard to the letter from Mike in Colorado Springs, let me say this: the first indicator of anything healthy, whether a person or a country or a political system or a sport, is the ability to take a punch. I get real nervous about supporting something when all I start to hear is propaganda from mouthpieces. Cup's half full? So what? Keep up the real reporting, Robin and others.

David in Florida

RM: Thanks David, I'm 67 so pissing people off really doesn't bother me if I'm being truthful and race fans are much more savvy than people give them credit. They don't want to be fed B.S. when they know better. RACER has given me a forum and doesn't ever tell me what I can or cannot write or say, and that's refreshing.


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Q: As the Indycar team owners are beginning to age (Roger Penske, Bobby Rahal, A. J. Foyt, Chip Ganassi, Dale Coyne) who will take over the ownership for those teams? Could this spell the final doom of IndyCar?

Brent, Denver, CO

RM: No because I think Team Penske will carry on and probably Foyt Racing as well, and there's new guys like Mike Harding, Ricardo Juncos (ABOVE), Mike Shank, Trevor Carlin and Brian Belardi to step up. A.J. will live to be 108.

Q: Living in Columbus, Ohio, I pass by a building in on the outskirts of I-270 almost every day that has an old "Team Rahal" logo – I'm fairly certain Bobby operated out of it in the 90's. I drive by the building most days, and can't say I have ever seen a car in the parking lot. What can you tell me about this building? Is it still in use? What is/was its purpose? And on the random chance it is still in use, how does someone go about getting a tour? Every time I pass it I'm reminded of the 90s CART days, and getting hooked after meeting Bobby and a few other drivers in the pits at Mid-Ohio as a youngster. Probably time to make it back out to a race.

Ben

RM: They must all park in the back, because it's still being used for the RLL BMW sports car team, the Global Rally Cross operation and BMW Classics program. There are no tours except for sponsors or large community groups.

Q: When I was in Indianapolis for this year's race, I visited the Dallara factory, which is only a couple of blocks from the track. Most convenient for servicing customers. In the days when Lola and March were dominant, did they have local facilities, or was everything shipped in from the U.K.? If so, was that a satisfactory arrangement?

A. Jenkins, Mono, Ontario

RM: Carl Haas supplied Lola parts at the tracks and there was also a March truck, but to the best of my memory everything was built in the U.K. It seemed to work just fine, because back then everyone had so much money you could buy a six-pack of cars every season.

Q: Kyle was asked about the Indy/Charlotte double. Know any details about this, and might he be in play for next year? (via Twitter)

Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch)
6/25/17, 8:24 PM
I would love to and had it all sponsored and worked out for this year to do it but someone said no.

S.D. Coop

RM: In 2010, I took Randy Bernard to Tony Stewart's invitational at Eldora so he could meet Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and the Busch brothers. Kyle told Randy that he wanted to run the Indy 500, but wouldn't be allowed to even think about it until he won a Cup championship for Joe Gibbs. So maybe it's a Honda/Chevy thing since Busch drives a Toyota.

Q: May I recommend to your readers the new "McLaren" documentary film tracing the life and successes of Bruce McLaren, which I saw over the weekend. Covering his 32 years, it has archival home movies from the McLaren family plus some great footage of early to mid 60's F1 races, and best of all. late 60's Can-Am race footage. There are also interviews with Chris Amon, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Robin Herd and others. For anyone interested in McLaren or Can-Am racing it is a must see, and at only 90 minutes long it does not outstay its welcome.

Paul Dudley, Melbourne Australia

RM: Thanks Paul, heard a lot of rave reviews about it and everyone that knew Bruce McLaren seemed to adore his passion and character.

Q: I am a long-time reader and occasional writer to the Mailbag. In your last Mailbag you mentioned how it's human nature to bitch and boy, do I agree with that! It seems like there is a lot of that in the Mailbag lately. Bitch if it's close racing, bitch if it isn't. Bitch how IndyCar is dying. Bitch how we can't attract new fans. So, I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

First, I think one, but not all, of the reasons we can't attract new fans is all the technology that's in cars these days. They are so darn complicated that the average kid can't work on his/her car. No more shady tree mechanics are out there. As I see it, the reason IndyCar has any trouble attracting new fans is quite simple as well. You could ask a kid, grandkid or some other young kid to watch an IndyCar race on TV with you. Now, while us old-timers would watch the race regardless, let's face it, on TV the races can be somewhat dull. You wanna new fan? Take them out to a real race! Visit your local track and take them with you. Sure, it's not IndyCar, but they will see the action, they will smell the fuel. The idea is to get the racing in their blood. Then you can take them to an even better race-IndyCar!

Kids are visual by nature. They have to see the cars up close, smell the burning rubber, etc. Look, I am certainly not rich by any means. But I firmly believe this is the way. So much so that I saved up and am driving to New York to pick up my son-in-law, son and grandson and taking all three to their first IndyCar race at Pocono. Got tickets as well as pit passes so they can be up close and hopefully meet a driver or two. I'm going to do every thing I can to make sure they enjoy the experience. Hopefully, we come away with three new fans. So I say the way to get new fans is for us old-timers to take a kid to a race, spend a few bucks if we have to, and make sure they have a great time. Get 'em hooked!

Jerry Laake, Iowa

RM: Bitching is a way of life in racing – whether it's participating or watching – but you have the magic bullet my friend. Get a kid to a racetrack and more often than not it's probably going to make a new fan. Drive safe and we'll see you at Pocono.

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