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July 22, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with John Oreovicz

Oreo
  (3:01 PM)

Hello race fans and welcome to today's chat!

Oreo
  (3:02 PM)

A heat index of 110F in Indianapolis or light rain and 13C (55F) in Edmonton...what sounds better to you??

Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)

John, what do you make of the news that Travis Pastrana wants to go for the $5 million in Vegas? Also, Dan Wheldon wants to do it -- I'd love to see that because he'd have a realistic shot, but I can't imagine Bernard would make him eligible after telling TK he wouldn't be under similar circumstances. Thoughts?

Oreo
  (3:06 PM)

I think it's good news for INDYCAR that someone with mainstream name recognition like Pastrana wants to give it a try. With his limited auto racing experience (and none in formula cars) I'll be interested to see how quickly he gets up to speed in testing. The odds of Pastrana or any true outsider winning are astronomical. It's also unlikely that Wheldon could win in a one-off, but look what happened at Indianapolis! They are really hoping to get a couple NASCAR stars.

Tom (Texas)

Any truth to the rumor of Danica full-time Nationwide , part time Cup, and one off for Indy in 2012?

Oreo
  (3:07 PM)

That sounds pretty accurate to me. It's a logical progression for her and I'm sure her management is trying to build the Indy 500 into her NASCAR deal.

Joe (Fort Wayne)

With it looking like the BY400 will barely draw 100,000 this yr, and the Indy 500 attendance back up to pre-split levels (over 250k) , what does that say about NASCAR at Indy?

Oreo
  (3:10 PM)

A couple of things. One, people already realized that the Brickyard 400 is just a dull car race. They've only had two or three decent races since 1994. Stock cars would be much more entertaining on the IMS road course - they are just not well suited to that oval. So interest was already down, but the Goodyear tire debacle a couple of years ago was the real attendance killer.

Scott (Columbus, OH)

Give us your podium this weekend for Edmonton

Oreo
  (3:11 PM)

1. Power 2. Dixon 3. Franchitti.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

When do you think that we will Danica Patrick racing in the Brickyard 400?

Oreo
  (3:12 PM)

In 2012 and beyond.

Tyler (Plainfield, Indiana)

John, with the drama from Toronto still very fresh on everyone's mind, do you expect the same kind of crashing and "Dumping" this weekend?

Oreo
  (3:15 PM)

I think there will be some spin-outs but nothing intentional. I don't think anybody did anything intentional at Toronto either. That particular track ALWAYS has a bunch of incidents. We haven't seen the new Edmonton layout in action yet, but somebody is bound to bang wheels or bump another car off at one of the hairpins.

Michael (Windsor, California)

Do you think that the Indy Car series is heading the direction of NASCAR with intentional bumping, fist fights, etc? I personally hope that the drivers race each other clean and not win because of a cheap shot. What are your thoughts?

Oreo
  (3:18 PM)

I don't think they are going that far. It's just too dangerous to be hooking wheels in open wheel cars, especially on ovals. So I don't think you'll see intentional wrecking. I do think the series recognizes that conflict and tension - like that between Franchitti and Power right now - can help get publicity. Soundbites on SportsCenter, that kind of thing. My friend Robin Miller likes to say "hate is good" and while that may not be exactly true, it does help sell tickets and makes for good TV.

Vinnie (ATL)

Are you a fan of the double wide restarts this year; in particular, during road courses? I think we always have an over aggressive driver causing a wreck in the first turn of restart which causes 2 or 3 restarts. Is part of the problem the drivers not buying in?

Oreo
  (3:21 PM)

Some of the road racing circuits are just not conducive to double wide restarts, especially the tight street courses like Toronto and Long Beach. In general the restarts have been pretty exciting this year. And they are not going away. It's up to the drivers to adapt to the conditions and not run into each other.

Greg (Dallas)

How do you think IndyCar is doing? Obviously, we're not back to the popularity of the pre-split days, but are they progressing in that direction?

Oreo
  (3:26 PM)

It's coming back slowly. The split crippled the sport and it fell so far from its commercial ad popular peak in the mid-90s. Then when it came back together, the economy was at its worst and it didn't have the financial foundation it needed to really capitalize on 'reunification.' A lot of positive things have happened, with the arrival of IZOD and the management change to Randy Bernard. The incoming sponsors are Verizon and GEICO, not 'flybynight.com.' Attendance has been up at some venues and down at others. Will be interesting to see the crowds at New Hampshire and Baltimore. All in all it looks better than it did 3-5 years ago but a far cry from 15-20 years ago.

Jeff (RI)

Do IRL drivers like having so many weekends off during the season or would they like more like a NASCAR race schedule?

Oreo
  (3:27 PM)

I'd say they would ideally have something in between - maybe 20-21 races instead of 17. But the NASCAR schedule with 38 races From February to Thanksgiving, that's just brutal.

Tony D (Indy)

With Pastrana testing in Vegas in October.. Randy Bernard said 6 drivers are going to be eligible for the 5 million, I have heard 10-12 are interested.. how would it be determined who runs and who doesnt get the chance? Is he really going to turn away cars?

Oreo
  (3:31 PM)

Randy said about 25 drivers have shown interest and about half of them requested entry paperwork. He's not expecting all of them to actually file for entry. I think the selection process is kind of a work in progress, to tell the truth. There could be additional, non-$5M entries for Las Vegas - it's theoretically the last race for the Dallara-Honda.

Oreo
  (3:31 PM)

Randy said about 25 drivers have shown interest and about half of them requested entry paperwork. He's not expecting all of them to actually file for entry. I think the selection process is kind of a work in progress, to tell the truth. There could be additional, non-$5M entries for Las Vegas - it's theoretically the last race for the Dallara-Honda.

John (California)

Do you like racing?

Oreo
  (3:31 PM)

Most forms of racing, yes.

Ryan (Greenwood, IN)

Everyone is talking about this new car, yet no one has talked about new teams and new drivers for next year. What is your take on this and how many should we expect?

Oreo
  (3:35 PM)

New drivers? More like the return of old drivers. Maybe Wheldon can land a full-time deal, for example. New teams? Bobby Rahal would like to come back. There was talk of the Highcroft Racing sports car team coming in, but they are now participating in the DeltaWing Le Mans project with All American Racers. INDYCAR must also be concerned with keeping its existing teams intact and several are going to struggle to pay for new cars and spare parts. Engine lease costs will drop about 25 percent to less than $700,000, which will help.

Mike (Cincinnati)

With A.J. Foyt going with Honda in 2012, who do you expect to be the next team to sign with Honda for 2012? Thoughts on who else be might going to Chevy? Who will be the Lotus anchor team?

Oreo
  (3:37 PM)

That one caught me by surprise - you'd kind of figure Foyt would have gone Chevy. Andretti Autosport, KV Racing and Newman/Haas are the three biggest players right now. Somebody is going to be the lead Lotus team, but I don't think any of them really want to be, reasoning that Judd may struggle to be competitive with Ilmor and HPD. I'm sure there will be more engine/team announcements in the next couple of weeks.

Jimmy (Texas)

Why do you look like a monkey? Were you in a car wreck?

Oreo
  (3:38 PM)

Thanks for reminding me that I need a new head shot for my columns.

Steve (Indy)

Any updates on the Aero Kits for 2012? or will they be pushed back to 2013?

Oreo
  (3:40 PM)

It's gone quiet but it should get resolved in the next month or so. I think it's fairly simple: If a company wants to invest in developing an aero kit and makes it available to others for $70,000 as the rules stipulate, then good for the teams that can afford to try all the options. Seems the majority of the fans would like to see aero kits in 2012 but it wouldn't surprise me to see them pushed back.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which IZOD IndyCar Drivers will part ways after their Current Teams after this Season,Who will be the New Drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012?

Oreo
  (3:43 PM)

Danica will leave Andretti. The Target Ganassi guys will stay put. Power is in at Penske. Helio needs to raise his game but I don't think he's in jeopardy. Most of the movement will be in the middle to the back of the pack.

Oreo
  (3:45 PM)

FYI practice at Edmonton has been delayed due to rain and standing water. The new schedule has Indy cars on the track from 5:15-6:45 ET.

Ray (Montgomery AL)

Will Briscoe be back at Penske?

Oreo
  (3:46 PM)

He's probably on the shakiest ground of the three, unless Helio's season doesn't improve. Most likely scenario is that the Penske lineup remains the same.

Austin (Cheeseburger West Side)

Which non Ganassi or Penske driver will win this week?

Oreo
  (3:47 PM)

Hunter-Reay and Conway could be competitive. Wilson ran very well on the old track and often excels on this kind of circuit. Servia is always in the mix.

Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)

Is it possible we won't have a championship battle that comes down to the final race this year? Dario's got a 55-point lead over Power. I could understand it still being up in the air last year when Power had that kind of lead at this point because he wasn't as strong on ovals at the time. However, Dario is great at all disciplines and could definitely clinch early.

Oreo
  (3:49 PM)

You're right, it could be a walkover this year. But at the same time, there could be a 41-point swing at anytime. If Power or Dixon strings together two or three race wins and Dario has a couple of bad results, it's a whole new ball game.

Ryan (Greenwood, IN)

Will we ever see Sam Hornish Jr., Buddy Rice, or Adrian Fernandez in an Indycar ever again?

Oreo
  (3:50 PM)

Fernandez: No. Rice: Probably. Hornish: Maybe, though I kind of doubt it. He really doesn't seem interested in coming back.

Ray (Montgomery AL)

Will Dan Wheldon replace Danica at Andrett Autosport?

Oreo
  (3:51 PM)

They could certainly make a poorer choice. Wheldon is familiar with the team and it would be a natural fit. For now he is contracted to lead the initial development of the 2012 Dallara for INDYCAR with Bryan Herta Autosport. That experience will be an advantage for whatever team Wheldon ends up driving for in 2012.

bob (dc)

who is the best indy car racer in your opinon?

Oreo
  (3:53 PM)

Right now Power is the fastest, Dixon is the most consistent but Franchitti is the overall best. He's been consistently excellent over the last 3-1/2 years he's been in an Indy car. The fact that the series is now back to a good mix of short ovals, super speedways, road and street courses plays to Franchitti's versatility.

Ryan (Greenwood, IN)

What do you think about next year adapting a 1mil prize to each winner of 1) the Mario Andretti Trophy (Road / Street Course) Champ and 2) AJ Foyt Tropyh (Ovals) Champ with a 3mil bonus if you win both?!. That would help fuel teams that only want to run a certain branch and more incentive to try and win both.

Oreo
  (3:56 PM)

Prize money is a topic that doesn't get talked about much these days. The way they package it as TEAM subsidy with miniscule bonuses for top five finishes is embarrassing. Look at the NASCAR prize money leaders - the top THIRTY have collected more than $2 million apiece. They raised the purse at the Indy 500 to a competitive level a few years ago after it remained stagnant for 15 years, now they need to find a way to raise the overall prize money for the series.

Ray (Montgomery AL)

What is Ryan and Mike's sponsorship situation at Andretti for next year? Also, although Danica is leaving do you see Go Daddy sponsoring less races?

Oreo
  (3:58 PM)

Conway brings a budget with him, but without an attached sponsor. AA has been trying to increase sponsorship from the Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group, which includes Venom (on Marco's car), Dr. Pepper and SunDrop. AA is going to need something big to replace Danica's GoDaddy dollars.

Ray (Montgomery AL)

Simona is great on road and street courses but do you think if she gets a better oval race car she will improve in that area more than she has?

Oreo
  (4:00 PM)

We will see how Simona really stacks up next year when everyone is starting from scratch with the new car. When Champ Car went to a new car in 2007, a couple of smaller teams (Walker and HVM) gave Newman/Haas all it could handle. Of course they had decent drivers too - Power and Robert Doornbos. But for the first year, it will level the playing field in a different way than spec cars do.

Oreo
  (4:01 PM)

Thanks for taking time out of your day to participate. See you at the races!