Q: Hey Miller, after attending both the Indy 500 and DXC 600 at TMS, I am amazed at one simple thing – the lifting heard clearly from the grandstands. Sitting in Turn 4 at Indy, you could clearly hear the drivers lifting, and at Texas I was shocked they lifted at pit exit. How about that for a nice change, the drivers driving the cars! Don’t get me wrong, the Indy 500 has been great since about 2006 and on, but watching Will after the last pit at Indy this year chase everyone down and pass his way to the front was awesome (ABC showed none of it on TV, shocker)! I was just as amazed watching Dixon at Texas drive his way to the win, like in 2016 watching the guys go four-wide for the win in the last 10 laps. Is the racing the same? No. Is it still great watch? Hell yes! The cars look like open-wheel cars again, and look bad fast sitting still. No gimmicks needed in IndyCar, just bad fast racing driven by the drivers….
Adam, Fort Worth, Texas
RM: I think I like the fact they had to lift at Indy and Texas is the best thing about the aero kits, because going wide open through a corner on a big oval is just as insane as pack racing. Anything that makes it more about the driver is good.
Q: As much as I admire Alexander Rossi for his racing prowess, I cannot root for him since he has become the “whiner in chief.” He refused to acknowledge that his teammate (Ryan Hunter-Reay) out-raced him at Detroit, now he blames backmarkers for his failure to get by in Texas? Get over it, if you were that quick you’d find a way by. Everything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault? I think not.
Dennis, Irvine, CA
RM: He didn’t say anything about backmarkers when I interviewed after the race on NBCSN but then I read his transcript from the press conference. I didn’t see what he was referring to in terms of lapped cars, but I imagine he wants to be treated like he was as a rookie at a few places when he got out of the way. Alexander has made a lot of fans in a short amount of time with his driving so, to your point, accept responsibility if you make a mistake and keep your complaints to a minimum.
Q: Your first letter from Jeff last week talks about Rossi making excuses, Well, look who he drives for? The biggest whiner and blame other drivers in IndyCar history, Michael Andretti! It was never Michael’s fault when he crashed. Seems to have rubbed off.
RM: Rossi apologized to Wickens after St. Pete and then admitted he made a mistake a few days after Detroit, but race fans appreciate instant honesty (like Ed Carpenter last Saturday night) and that means a lot more than something private or on Twitter.
Q: Why in the heck are IndyCar fans so damned unhappy all the time? I’ve been a fan for over 40 years, and the griping has never been worse. What gives?
Greg in Chicago
RM: Got no clue. When I was a young fan I was always thrilled to be at the track, so maybe it’s the aging process that makes everyone so grumpy. But like I wrote Monday, IndyCar fans should be thankful they’re not saddled with F1 or NASCAR every week.
Q: First of all it was great seeing you on NBC, as always your insights improved the viewing experience. I’m writing in this week because I wanted to hear your take on Ed Carpenter’s idea that he could “block Wickens a bit”, to paraphrase his interview after the incident. As a long-time race fan and an amateur road racer, I’ve always believed that at the very least it’s good driving etiquette to make way for a car on the lead lap, as long as it can be done safely. I also thought there were provisions made in the rulebooks for this sort of thing, but upon thumbing through the rules for IMSA and IndyCar, I only found entries that covered blocking in general. I guess maybe that sort of thing doesn’t carry up to the big leagues.
Adam from Watkins Glen
PS If for some reason Detroit doesn’t get renewed, you think there’s any chance the Glen could step in to take its spot?
RM: IndyCar called a couple blocking penalties last Saturday night, and the rule nowadays is “proactive vs. reactive.” Detroit isn’t going anywhere, and maybe The Glen could work with IMSA if Jim France gave his blessing.
Q: It seems like Rossi wants to become the king of IndyCar hot takes. IndyCar needs a rethink on its blue flag rules? I know Formula 1 isn’t the only series that implements strict blue flag rules, but that isn’t IndyCar, and the way the series operates, it can’t be IndyCar. With that said, once a car is a lap down, I don’t see the need to do what Carpenter did to Wickens either, and apparently neither did Ed, which made the move quite confusing. Add to that the lack of a second line at Texas, and we are going to be 0 for 3 in the eyes of many with the new aero kits on ovals. Texas wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.
Finally, I need to give some real serious props to Dixon for his in-lap and out-lap when he took the lead. Earlier in the night NBCSN picked up the ground Dixon gained on entry compared to another driver (I forget who), but when Dixon took a four-second lead after the next pit sequence he effectively gained six or seven seconds on Wickens in that pit exchange. I’m not a fan because I think he’s extremely boring, but there’s no denying what he did Saturday night was first-class.
Ryan in West Michigan
P.S. I’d actually pay money to see you go to France with Marshall and cover Le Mans with daily videos like you did for Indy. Not sure if that’d be like a bull in a china shop or what I’d expect out of it, but goodness knows it would be entertaining.
RM: We don’t see many blue flag controversies nowadays because, honestly, guys don’t get lapped nearly as often as they did in the old days because everyone is so close. Texas was different because of the new pit exit and drivers lost two laps on a pit stop, so lapped cars came into play. Ed felt bad because he doesn’t race like that and he apologized to Wickens in the infield hospital. Dixon is a cut above, it’s that simple.