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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IndyCar Mailbag: Championship Edition!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a mailbag, since I’m not Robin Miller and emails are not exactly overflowing around here. Still, I appreciate any sort of feedback at all, and I’ve finally received enough to make a mailbag worthwhile. All excerpts have been used with the author’s permission.

Do you see Rubens Barrichello going to Bobby Rahal’s team, or will he stay with his buddy TK? Also, do you know which Indy Lights drivers might be making the move to IndyCar next season—will any of them take Newgarden’s job? Keep up the great work—I check this feed every day.

-Charles

Deeply appreciated, Charles. Everything so far points to Rubens going to Sam Schmidt’s team as an additional driver next year. Based on what I’ve heard from folks on and around the team, Rubens leaving KV for different pastures is basically accepted as a given.

As for Lights drivers, you’re most likely to see Saavedra in some sort of part-time effort next year. Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier are also strong possibilities. Either would be helped by winning that Lights scholarship, but I think Guerrieri especially has a shot, win or lose.

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you on Will Power. There’s no way he doesn’t mess this up. Ryan [Hunter-Reay] will be champion, just as soon as Power finishes next to last or something. A choke is a choke is a choke. I think Will is cursed to choke every year…Penske can’t win with his current team.

-(Name Withheld)

That’s a lot of choke talk, my friend! I have picked Power to win the championship this year, but I assure you that’s not a knock on Ryan Hunter-Reay. Look at it this way: is RHR such a speedway ace that a victory or podium is almost certainly within his grasp? Because honestly, he’s got much more work than Power to do to clinch the title. Power needs to just be adequate; in all likelihood, RHR needs another tremendous effort. Honestly, he isn’t appreciably better on the big ovals than Power. Both have had their failures and successes. That’s why my choice is the guy with a 17-point advantage. Again, I expect RHR to give it everything he has. But there’s no guarantee that will be enough.

As for Penske, they win plenty with these guys…it’s just that pesky championship that’s remained oh-so-slightly out of reach. I appreciate the letter!

I loved your Saavedra interview, but how much good is he really going to do for that Andretti team with Hunter-Reay trying to win a championship?

-Matthew

Thanks again for the email, Matthew. Seb was super-cool to interview, and my kids dig his hair—they find it roughly analogous to Sonic the Hedgehog (not a bad comparison for a racer, I suppose). I think the big advantages for having Saavedra on the team—as he alluded to in the interview--is another set of data points for trying to figure Fontana out. In the race, I think it’s doubtful Saavedra will have much impact on the championship battle, unless he’s collected in an incident or something. His biggest contribution to RHR’s cause will likely come before the green flag ever drops for the MAVTV 500.

Hi again Zach!

It’s hard to believe the season is almost over! I think this year has been amazing, and I’ve come to really like the new car. I hope the crowd is packed for the grand finale. I don’t get why anyone would think this season has been less than successful.

I have been a fan since the early days of the split, and I can tell you, I’ve never had so much fun. I got to meet Wade Cunningham and Tony Kanaan at Indy! Milwaukee is back. I’m not some ancient race fan, but I have seen enough to know what we have now is pretty [expletive] good. Cheers to RHR winning this weekend, and hope you have a great offseason! Looking forward to seeing who will be Roger’s new driver!

-Louis, West Lafayette, IN

That was just an awesome email, and I have nothing to add.

Thanks again for all the emails. Any blogger will tell you they love hearing from readers—it makes it seem less like just an exercise of shouting into the void. If you’d like to send an e-mail, you can drop me a line at mail.rpgblog(at)gmail.com. Onward to Fontana (well, onward to my couch, watching Fontana)!

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