The RACER Mailbag, July 5

The RACER Mailbag, July 5
The RACER Mailbag, July 5

Welcome to the RACER Mailbag. Questions for any of RACER’s writers can be sent to [email protected]. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t guarantee that every letter will be published, but we’ll answer as many as we can. Published questions may be edited for length and clarity. Questions received after 3pm ET each Monday will appear the following week.

ED’S Note: Tomorrow (July 6) is the last day to submit questions for our upcoming Guest Mailbag with IndyCar president Jay Frye. If you want a chance to go straight to your source with a question about the IndyCar Series, please send it to [email protected] by 5pm ET.

Q: What’s the deal with Chip Ganassi Racing? Potentially losing Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson in the same year is not good business.

Based on results it is one of the best teams around, however Palou was being paid extremely badly and Ericsson brings a sponsor. Does this team have funding issues? Is Chip refusing to pay Marcus, or is he unable to? Does he pay people below market value and pocket the sponsorship as a strategy?

We all know Zak Brown loves to poke the bear that is Chip, but his tongue in cheek comments at Indy regarding Ericsson were on the money.


MARSHALL PRUETT: Palou signed a contract and then became dissatisfied with the amount of money he agreed to receive after signing the contract. How that turns Ganassi into the bad guy is beyond me. I’ve agreed to work for less money than I was worth when I was an IndyCar crew member, and I was mad at myself in each instance.

Regardless, the entire ordeal left Palou with no doubt that he wanted to leave and here we are with Palou set to exit at the end of the season, either for F1, if he can somehow make that happen, or for Arrow McLaren, which is the more likely scenario at the moment.

So far, we’ve heard nothing from Ganassi to suggest it intends on paying Ericsson to drive. Some of its rivals, including Andretti, Meyer Shank, Rahal, and others, do want to pay him to drive, so unless Ganassi has a change of heart — and soon — Ericsson will be with a new team next year, just as I spelled out a few months ago in one of our early silly season stories.

The car Palou drives is fully funded by sponsors. The car Ericsson drives is fully funded by his sponsor. We know Palou soured on the team over the low pay, and while we’ve never heard what Ericsson makes, you can assume he wouldn’t be trying to get paid by Ganassi — or the other teams — if he was earning a bunch of money on his current contract. You leave a team if it’s uncompetitive or you’re not earning what you think you’re worth. In Ericsson’s case, we know it isn’t the car.

Money and sponsors and contracts aside, Ericsson has proven he can win races, threaten for victory at the Indy 500, and vie for championships in a good ride. Those are the kind of skills that IndyCar teams crave, but maybe Ganassi doesn’t think he’s the real deal. That’s the best I can come up with because keeping him seems like a no-brainer, and yet, this marriage appears to be headed for a divorce.

Ganassi’s HQ might need to stock on on Swedish chocolate drinks while it still can. Gavin Baker/Motorsport Images

Q: At Road America, fans waited until the first practice session at 3:30pm, only to see an installation lap and nothing happening except for a rookie or two running for the next 15-25 minutes. Now I’m watching the same thing at Mid-Ohio, and Scott McLaughlin is out of his car after that first lap. I can only assume it’s that way at all events except the 500.

This is not a good look, or process. Is money really that tight that tire saving trumps entertainment? Does IndyCar ownership and management not care?

If so, just call it a day and make it either a two-day event or make Friday free. Either way, I can’t imagine promoters liking this.

Mike DeQuardo, Elkhart Lake, WI

MP: IndyCar pushes back and says that with the new 75-minute FP1s, there are more laps turned than the former 45-minute FP1, and while true, those stats are meaningless if the quality of the viewing experience suffers.

Your frustration with the why-are-they-just-sitting-and-doing-nothing routine is shared by an increasing number of people, based on the frequency of complaints I hear. It’s like paying to see your favorite band, having them walk out on stage, plug in their guitars and whatnot, and then stand and stare out into the audience without playing a song for 10 or 15 minutes. If that happened in real life, they’d get pelted with cans and bottles and be booed off the stage before everyone walked out.

Why IndyCar thinks this mass inaction to open most of its races — with the one and only session it now offers for most events — is beyond me. The problem here, and it is a problem, is in the amount of tires the series has negotiated with Firestone to be provided within the annual tire lease agreements with its teams. At least one more set is needed if FP1 is going to stop being a stand-and-stare routine.

Q: One has to assume that Jack Harvey is out at RLL after this season, correct? Another subpar finish at Road America (26th), and that was after jumping the start by three rows. Was a reason given for why a penalty wasn’t issued for that? Or VeeKay dumping Rosenqvist in Turn 3 for that matter?

Eric, Mequon, WI

MP: Yes, Jack is in the final year of his contract with RLL and the team has been actively seeking his replacement. There was no reason given, nor does a reasonable answer exist, for why VeeKay went unpunished. And for the sake of clarity, it doesn’t matter if it was VeeKay or any of the other drivers in the field in that scenario; that driver should have been penalized if, for no other reason, to make it clear to the rest that such behavior will not be tolerated.

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