Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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: After the Indy GP, I think the question on everyone’s mind is whether it should be kept, moved on the schedule, or ditched. In my opinion, it should be kept in the same place. Attendance seemed decent for the most part, certainly more than Pole Day the last few years, and as long as it turns a profit for the Speedway, I don’t think it should really go anywhere. Despite the lack of action during the race, it seems to be a moderately successful event from my knowledge. Interested to know what you think should be done with it? Keep up the good work.
RM: I’d like to see it cut down to a one-day event – practice in the morning, qualify at noon and race at 4 o’clock – because I think it might ramp up the intensity and possibly draw more people. Mario disagrees and thinks it needs two days, but all that does is cost IMS and teams more money. And the crowds aren’t very big, so why not try it? But as long as it’s on national television, it’s not going to move out of May and, to your point, it still out-draws Pole Day since The Split.
Q: With the fifth Indy GP now in the books, has your stance on the event changed any? Our family enjoys the chance to go to IMS and see a full day of support racing with the big boys as the main event. The crowds are a decent size, lot of families, plenty of room for the kids to run off some energy. And as a race, we could do worse, like the 2018 F1 Spanish GP – now that was a bad “race.” It’s definitely a different vibe from Indy 500 race day, but what is wrong with that? It is a good event at a great facility, and honestly, a pretty good way to start May.
Mike, Avon, IN
RM: I was against running anything else in May, but considering that Mark Miles got it on national TV, and it’s a cheap race for most of the teams based in Indy, and the mechanics can sleep at home, it’s OK. I just hate watching a race at the most iconic track in the world and seeing all those empty seats – it doesn’t give off the vibe of a very big deal. People come to IMS to watch speed on the oval, not road racing. But the racing wasn’t bad (two passes on track for the lead and some good overtaking throughout the pack), and better than a lot of road course races I’ve watched in the past 30 years.
Q: What is the likelihood the IndyCar GP gets moved to the end of the calendar over the next few years, so — as the anonymous driver in a recent newspaper article said — the series champion could be properly crowned at Indianapolis?
RM: Don’t see it. I think IndyCar wants to end the season on an oval, and Miles likes having two weekends of national TV coverage leading into the Indy 500. Honestly, I don’t think it would draw many more people than it does right now if it was moved.
Q: With his very strong showings in the first set of races, it’s obvious Robert Wickens is something special. I have been very surprised and amazed by his one-lap speed, but also his consistent long run pace each week. He has performed well head-to-head against the best in the field so far. What is your take on him? Is he for real, and if so, how many races will he win? Do you even think he could be a potential title contender?
Mason, Elkhart, IN
RM: I think I’ve already said this, but when he was a teenager winning Formula Atlantic races I mentioned to Derrick Walker that he should sign him up for his Champ Car team. It was obvious he was very talented and all he wanted to do was run Indy cars, but nobody even gave him a test so he headed for Europe. Fortunately, Hinch went to bat for him, and now he’s got a good ride with SPM and he will win races and contender for titles. Not sure how many in 2018, but at least one (and he could easily have had two already).
Q: I have watched all five Indy GP races from the E Stand Paddock. Something that really stood out to me about this year’s race versus the previous four was that the start and both restarts looked sloppy. As I recall, and I could be wrong, the restart zone was always on the south end of the front straight, well down from the exit of T14. This year it seemed the green was thrown when the leader was either at the apex of T14 or just before the apex. The field was always strung out, and it looked like doing it this way took a lot of passing opportunities away. Also, after three really entertaining road/street races this year, why was this race being so much less competitive? I would have thought the extra test time at Indy would have led to even more parity than what we witnessed?
Jim Panther, Bunker Hill, IN
RM: It did seem more strung out on the last restart, but as far as the race itself, anytime you have a couple passes for the lead on the track (and not in the pits) it’s a success on the road course. Not sure how many cars Dixon actually passed at speed, but he went from 18th to second, so for a road race it was OK.