Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

IndyCar

Robin Miller's Mailbag for June 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

CART at Rockingham, 2002 (Image by Levitt/LAT)

Q: Is there desire within the walls at 16th and G’town to grow their sport in Europe? With the influx of some European owners (Carlin, Scuderia Corsa, maybe McLaren) and possibly engine manufacturers, could Rockingham and Lausitzring make their way onto the schedule in the future? Not that Zak doesn’t have enough to do, but I’m sure he could be instrumental in putting together a Rockingham weekend. And Mr. Wickens’ contacts in DTM could be a bridge to putting together a DTM/IndyCar billing (with scheduling considerations), although I don’t know how difficult it would be to convert from oval to road course multiple times in one weekend.

Derek, Arcola, VA

RM: I think Mark Miles wants to go somewhere outside North America that would pay a nice sanction fee to IndyCar and draw a nice crowd, but I don’t think either of the tracks you mentioned fit that bill. They both lost money on the CART races, so why would anyone want to promote it? It’s a tough sell right now.

Q: Yo Miller, it’s great to see you back out there on NBCSN. Unlike most people, I thought this year’s Indy 500 was great. I can appreciate the difficulty of the cars to drive and the struggle of the Month of May for some teams. It was never meant to be easy. With that said, I’m concerned about the broadcasting format for IndyCar. I couldn’t be happier that ABC is gone. It’s unfortunate that they fell off so much. It didn’t always used to be this way. The days of Paul Page, Sam Posey, Jack Arute, and Gary Gerould are long over. It’s saddening. I have no doubt that NBC will do a far better job.

I’m wary, though. The broadcast format itself needs a major overhaul. I can understand that sponsors need ad time during the race. No big deal. But take this for example: we had six commercial breaks in the first 50 laps of the 500. That’s abysmal and embarrassing. How could any viewer stay engaged in a broadcast when nearly half of the time you’re watching commercials?

I’m worried that this won’t change when NBC takes the reins. I’m not sure if this is an IndyCar or broadcasting problem. It needs to be fixed. You wouldn’t cut to a commercial break in Game 7 of the NBA Finals in the last minute of play with the game tied without a timeout. You wouldn’t cut to a commercial in the Super Bowl while in overtime with the game still being played. I’m hoping IndyCar looks at this moving forward, because it needs to change.

Brett, Detroit, MI

P.S. What happened with Leena Gade? Did she get the axe because Hinch didn’t make The Show? Or was it something more?

RM: I don’t care if it’s golf, basketball, football or racing, TV commercials are a necessity and I think that’s why the split screen is so valuable. I listened to our race last Saturday night in my headset, and I think NBCSN does a good job of blending racing with commercials. But it’s possible our NBC Gold package next year will have reduced interruptions. Let’s just say Leena and SPM didn’t work out. And opinions on Indy were 50/50.

Q: Hey Robin, longtime reader, first time writing for a question/observation. First of all, for this year’s Indy 500 put me in the 50% that like it. When the best drivers in the best series in the world are challenged, it speaks to the difficulty of the track and the racing.  It shouldn’t be an easy drive for anyone. And kudos to Hinch and SPM for taking it on the chin and moving on. 

One thing I haven’t seen much discussion on was the fuel mileage strategy. It’s one thing to look at the aero kit and the weather to talk about passing, but even ABC was able to highlight at the start of the race that good fuel strategy could result in one less stop during the race, if you save fuel right away. It’s a long race, and you’ll never get rid of fuel saving as a strategy for some teams during the race, but to have the race start that way creates a situation where drivers don’t want to pass too much. The Indy 500 can’t add laps like Long Beach did, but could they reduce the tank capacity? Will that be addressed through the future horsepower spec?

Brian (Indy transplant to Minnesota)

RM: You can have all the fuel strategy in the world and be foiled by a yellow flag. Last Saturday night at Texas was a perfect example, because Townsend kept saying that Ryan Hunter-Reay, Hinch and Graham were in great shape and didn’t have to stop again, while P.T. kept saying it’s not going to matter if another caution comes out, which it did. I hate the fuel mileage scenario but it’s a necessary evil, and smaller tanks aren’t going to make any difference.

Q: I realize after Texas there are still eight IndyCar races still to run. However, I was wondering about IndyCar’s progress towards signing a title sponsor for 2019 and beyond. I was thinking because of how far into 2018 season we are that this announcement may be forthcoming soon. What have you heard? Are there particular types of companies that IndyCar would be more apt to want to sign than not?

Also, we’re here in Canada where we don’t have access to NBC’s live streams online for qualifying. From what I could tell, unless you had U.S. cable and or satellite TV, you couldn’t log in to watch Texas. Race Control on IndyCar’s website wasn’t showing anything. I think IndyCar needs to know we’re also interested in the proceedings. I also don’t understand why IndyCar now requires you to have a code and user ID for its live timing. It’s a pain to remember those details to log in and watch sessions. I’m sure people like You Tube or Facebook access for that reason.

Geoff Roberts, Unionville, Canada

RM: Haven’t heard a word about a replacement for Verizon, but I do know that IndyCar.com streamed practice from Texas. Canada is a very important market for IndyCar with Hinch and Wickens so I’m positive something will get worked out by 2019.

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