Chat with John Oreovicz
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com IndyCar reporter John Oreovicz stops by to talk about the 100th running of the Indy 500 (Sunday, noon ET, ABC).
Oreovicz attended his first Indianapolis 500 as a teenager in 1978 and still hasn't broken the open-wheel racing habit. He has covered nearly 300 Indy-style races for National Speed Sport News and many other publications around the world and co-authored "A Winning Adventure," a history of Honda's successful Champ Car engine program. "Oreo" resides in western Indiana within earshot of his home track, the Putnam Park Road Course.
Send your questions now and join Oreovicz Friday at 4 p.m. ET!
Oreo (4:00 PM)
Hello race fans and thanks for your interest in today's latest Indy car chat!
Oreo (4:01 PM)
Carb Day is bigger than ever at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I can hear the distant thumping of Papa Roach from the stage right now.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Do you think that Danica Patrick will race in the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 which will be on May 27,2012?
Oreo (4:04 PM)
Let's get that Danica question out of the way right away! I doubt she will be in the 2012 Indy 500. If she's serious about her NASCAR career, competing at Indy would be a distraction detracting from her stock car effort. The NASCAR set also seems to take a dim view of the safety of Indy car racing and her team owner may prohibit her on those grounds. I could only see it happening if she signs with a Chevy NASCAR team.
Marco seems to perform better on ovals.. do you think theres any chance of him headed to NASCAR?
Oreo (4:05 PM)
No, I don't see it happening. I just don't think he has any interest in stock car racing. I am curious who would be interested in hiring him for IndyCar if he didn't have a ride with his dad's team.
Carla (Rochester, NY)
Who's your favorite for Sunday?
Oreo (4:06 PM)
I think it's between Will Power and the Target Ganassi cars. Dixon has been consistently fast all week, Franchitti is the current master of the Indy 500 and I just have a hunch about Power. They all think that Tagliani will be a factor throughout 500 miles too.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Since it is the 100th Indy 500 I know there are even more pre-race events than usual. What pre-race event are you looking forward to most?
Oreo (4:08 PM)
Probably the parade of historic Indy cars driven by icons of the sport. In the last two years, I was lucky enough to see Dario Franchitti drive the Lotus 38 and Johnny Rutherford drive the Chaparral 2K but this will be even better with about 10 oldies on track.
IndyBuckeye (Cincinnati, Ohio)
How do Hinton and Miller have Mears on the second row of the all time Indy 500? He's the polesitter. He accomplished more than them all. AJ has longevity over Mears, but that's it.
Oreo (4:11 PM)
Ed's choice of Frank Lockhart for P2 has been even more controversial. I personally rank Mears as #1 because he got four wins in half the starts it took AJ and Big Al. Six poles too, and certainly in the modern era qualifying was a stress inducing affair. My elders tell me that Foyt's greatness came from his intimidating personality, but I didn't start going to Indy car races until the late '70s and by then he was already on the down side of his career.
The Ganassi b-team is currently more Andretti-like than they'd like to be, I imagine. Is that just a product of being so new, or are their resources that different?
Oreo (4:13 PM)
I think it's just taking them awhile to gel. I thought Rahal's second place at Brazil would be a boost for them, but they seemed to struggle in qualifying. It will be interesting to see if the #38 develops into the front runner the series needs it to be.
I'll be just beyond turn 1 for this years 500 in row T. Last year I was in the J stand, 3rd row. I am REALLY looking forward to the new-old starting formation and the restarts.Are the drivers finally coming to terms with two-wide restarts?
Oreo (4:16 PM)
They don't have any choice. The team owners wanted it and now series management is making it happen. Yes, somebody is going to wreck on a restart on Sunday. But they have wrecks when they restart single file too. Double wide restarts may be a one and done at Indy, but let's at least give it a try once.
Bob (Fishers, IN)
Indycar needs to do everything in their power to keep Danica, she is too valuable to the series. If Penske and Ganassi know what's good for them, one of them will make her an offer she can't refuse. Any chance?
Oreo (4:18 PM)
No chance. Those guys are interested in winning races, not functioning as a marketing platform. My view is that her talent and her marketability have peaked in Indy car and she needs to move on to the next challenge. She'll triple her income so it's a no brainer and the series - and perhaps more importantly, Andretti Autosport - might as well begin preparing for a Danica-free future.
Buddy Rice has been fast all month, and JR is also looking good - Rick Mears-rookie-good. Hope he remembers to buckle his helmet!But, I'd really like to see Vitor take this thing, both for himself and for AJ.
Oreo (4:20 PM)
I don't know if I would go so far as to say JR is "Rick Mears rookie good." Rick Mears rookie as in DNQ in 1977 or front row in 1978? JR has done an excellent job now that he's out of Panther Racing's road course Penalty Box and Rice is reminding people that he once drove Indy cars pretty well. Can't say I share your love for AJ though it would be nice to see Vitor win.
Bob (Fishers, IN)
What's your thoughts on Servia's chances? I think he's got a decent shot with a good team like NH, plus his experience.
Oreo (4:22 PM)
Until Tagliani grabbed the pole at the end, Servia and Newman/Haas were the feel-good story of Pole Day. He reminds me of my friend Mauricio Gugelmin - great human being and an underrated racer. It's a big boost for Newman/Haas because Carl Haas' health is slipping and the longterm future of the team is unsettled.
John,How impressed are you with Hunter-Reay? Gets into a car for the first time and puts together some solid lap times.
Oreo (4:25 PM)
He's a decent driver for sure and Foyt's cars appear to be quicker here than in recent times. I'm not sure anyone who doesn't work for DHL or Sun Drop is terribly happy that RHR is in the field and the negative backlash has been significant. But he's not the bad guy in that deal.
Who is your guess for Indy 500 rookie of the year? JR Hildebrand and Hinchtown seem most likely, I'd imagine.
Oreo (4:26 PM)
I think Hinchtown is going to pull it off. Those two could have a good ROY battle all year long.
Is Danica really that big of a deal or loss going into 2012? A lot of low TV ratings and empty stands with her. As you said, she's 'Peaked', and that was 3 years ago.
Oreo (4:27 PM)
I don't think the loss will be that great. But then I can be pretty naive about these things and I'm the guy who thinks 'marketing' should be on George Carlin's list of dirty words you can't say on television.
Eddie (Washington, D.C.)
RHR is going to get booed, I think, at introductions. Any word on someone doing something for Bruno later in the year?
Oreo (4:28 PM)
What will be interesting to hear is whether AJ Foyt gets booed. Michael Andretti certainly will be and RHR will get a smattering of boos to. Maybe AJ should graciously given up his seat in the Pace Car and let Junky drive that.
Kevin (Springfield, VA)
Let's talk food, John. Good local eats - I know of the Mug n bun but what do you like?
Oreo (4:30 PM)
Mug & Bun has atmosphere and good root beer but I don't think the food is that great. Food is better at Twist
Chuck (Ft. Wayne)
Helio's season has been frustrating thus far but his success at Indy is obvious. How do you see him fairing?
Oreo (4:32 PM)
Well, he's a two or three time winner, depending on who you ask. He desperately needs a good result to turn his season around and he and the #3 crew are hoping that changing to the oval swing brings better fortunes. Tim Cindric calls a smart race so he should contend in the top five.
Why will Michael get booed?
Oreo (4:35 PM)
Michael and AJ Foyt have been criticized for doing a deal to the Foyt car that Bruno Junqueira qualified to Andretti so that Ryan Hunter-Reay and his sponsors DHL and Sun Drop will be represented in the race. At Indy, the car qualifies, not the driver. The practice of selling a ride has happened occasionally over the last 40 years but there was considerable fan uproar this time.
Jamin (Speedway, Indiana)
I just wanted to welcome all the race fans to town this weekend!! How about that Indiana weather, 60 degrees and cloudy on Friday...90 degrees and sun for Sunday's race. You gotta love it!!
Oreo (4:37 PM)
If you believe the forecasters Sunday is going to be a sauna and this is one time I'm actually looking to watching from the media center.
Peter (Wooster, OH)
John,What are your thoughts on giving the regular Indy Car drivers (i.e. Conway/Jakes) prioirity over the one-time drivers like John Andretti and Bell? Seems like the circuit owes it to these full time drivers and their sponsors regardless of their speeds.
Oreo (4:39 PM)
Well if you're talking about provisionals, that's a slippery slope and one that gotten NASCAR some criticism. One of the reasons people are up in arms about the RHR thing is that the 33 fastest drivers are not represented on the Indy grid. Funny how Conway went from winning at Long Beach to DNQ-ing at Indy. The Speedway gets in your head...
Simona is way more talented than Danica and way younger but nowhere near her level of recognition. If you want to cheer for a girl atleast choose the right one.. am I right or what?
Oreo (4:41 PM)
Simona is the future of female racers in IndyCar, Danica is the past. SDS is already a better road racer and she's catching up quickly on ovals - when her car isn't breaking and setting her on fire.
You mentioned Helio maybe having 2 wins. I know its been debated for 9 years. Who do you give the 2002 win to? For me, It's Helio because he was clearly ahead by a few car lenghths whenthe crash happened and looked like he slowed into 3, letting PT by. I agree that PT was ahead when teh yellow lights came on, but it sounded like ther were those lights and lights in the car going off at 2 or 3 separate times.
Oreo (4:43 PM)
Barry Green produced video evidence to show that Tracy was ahead when the yellow light and its associated warning systems went on. The unfair thing is that Barry Green protested, then the IRL's explanation for allowing Castroneves to keep the win was that it was not a protestable offense. Then don't let him protest in the first place, Brian Barnhart.
Jeff (Columbus, IN)
If you could pick one moment in the last century to have been present for, what would it be and where in the Speedway would you want to have been sitting/standing?
Oreo (4:46 PM)
Too many to list. Maybe behind the scoring pylon in the pits, circa 1981 when AJ Foyt attacked Robin Miller from behind and "bitch slapped" him after Miller wrote a column in the Indianapolis Star questioning Foyt's sudden speed. That was one of AJ's go-to moves; he pulled it out again when he attacked Arie Luyendyk in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway in 1997.
Brandon (Indiana )
Not a huge Indycar fan, but Im thinking about going on Sunday. is the race a sell out, or close?
Oreo (4:47 PM)
IMS officials say ticket sales are up by a double-digit margin this year. That's got to be a gain of 20,000 and they're expecting the biggest race day crowd since 1995.
I tihkn that the depth of the Indy 500 fields the last 5-7 years get undo criticism. Go look at any field from the good ole days. You have the names, but a buck of has beens or never weres. This field this year is pretty strong if people were objective and not looking through the IRL/CART/1960's prism
Oreo (4:49 PM)
The fields started getting stronger in about 2001 but until the last 2-3 years weren't up to the standard of before the split. I don't think you can find a non-qualified driver in this year's field. Well, other than Ryan Hunter-Reay.
In the days leading up to the Indy 500, which day is the best?
Oreo (4:50 PM)
Today - Carb Day - is the best for drinking and partying. Indy car practice, Indy Lights race, pit stop contest, concert - it's a full day of entertainment. You need Saturday as a day of rest to be at your best on Sunday.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Is there a Fee to Race in the Indianapolis 500?
Oreo (4:51 PM)
Yes, there is an entry fee but I don't know what it is off the top of my head. I think it's $10-15,000.
We know Penske with Chevy, Chip with Honda, KV with Lotus. Who do you see ending up where next year with engines?
Oreo (4:53 PM)
They were smart to announce the Ganassi/Honda partnership here today and Honda and Chevy put the spotlight back on the engine manufacturers this week in the wake of the underwhelming launch of the 'concept' bodywork unveiled a couple weeks ago. Word on the street is that Andretti Autosport lobbied to be Honda's top team but were told "thanks but no thanks." You knew Chip wasn't going to take the same engine as Roger Penske no matter how tight the engine supply rules are written.
So, John, will you have to cover the boxcar circuit at Indy again this year? How much attendance does that have to lose in order to go away?
Oreo (4:53 PM)
I don't know if they'll ask me to help out again at the Brickyard 400 or not. Last year;s BY was the first NASCAR race I covered in 14 years and I was sad to see that streak come to an end.
When the owners voted in Brazil regarding the aero kits they did not contact Sarah Fisher back in the states. Why would they leave her out? How did she take that?
Oreo (4:54 PM)
I don't think one vote would have mattered and if cost was an issue to Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, I expect it's an issue for Sarah too.
Your favorite Indy winning car from the last 25 years? I'll take the 1988 PC-17 Pennzoil car.
Oreo (4:55 PM)
That's a good one. I'll add the '80 Chaparral 2K, the '65 Lotus 38 and the '95 Reynard 95I. A favorite non-winner is the '82 Penske PC10.
Kevin (Springfield, VA)
Response to "Why will Michael get booed?" - that would occur just because he IS Michael Andretti. A bit surly. Great racer in his day, though.
Oreo (4:56 PM)
Couldn't have said it better, Kevin.
Eddie (Washington, D.C.)
Do you think Simona will make it the full 500 miles assuming she isn't wrecked out of the race? She has made many fans again this year. I am so glad she is in this series for a few years more.
Oreo (4:56 PM)
I bet she's glad she has a few oval races in a row because road races are harder on the hands.
What was the cause of Sato's lack of speed today?
Oreo (4:57 PM)
Don't know, he ran only 5 laps and was 20 mph off the pace.
Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)
John, if Dario wins the 500 again this year, where do you rank him amongst Indy's all-time greats? Higher than Helio?
Oreo (4:57 PM)
Yes, unless Dario's third win is disputed like Helio's '02 win or Bobby Unser's in '81.
Drew (Bloomington, Ind.)
How crucial do you think it is for the IndyCar Series to land Conor Daly?
Oreo (4:59 PM)
Conor Daly has the potential to be a major star. But I think he's going to invest 2-3 years of his career into racing in Europe so he doesn't miss out on a chance for Formula 1. In a worst case scenario he'll be back over here in a few years. He's a talent for sure.
Andrew (St. Louis, MO)
Who do you think from the back of the field has the best shot at making it to the Top 10 or even 5?
Oreo (5:00 PM)
Marco Andretti. He always seems to run well at Indy. Graham Rahal is another.
Oreo (5:01 PM)
OK! Our time is up. Thanks for participating today and don't forget to tune in for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 at 11:00 a.m. Sunday on ABC!