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: I’ve always been glad you acknowledge how little recognition Scott Dixon gets. His two most recent wins simply underscore the incredible talent he has on any type of circuit. As a long-time PNC customer, I was happy to see them sponsor him, and the colors look great on his Ganassi ride. Sadly, there are no visual reminders of this sponsorship at my local branch (only about 90 miles from Pocono) but at least they do have a decent page on their site. Only downside is in the ‘fun facts’ interview here, he notes his favorite racing movie is ‘Days of Thunder’…. Noooooo! (I hope Dixie is joking!) Seriously though, glad you are looking good and look forward to the rest of the season on NBCSN! See ya at Pocono!
John Weaver, Camp Hill, PA
RM: We’re doing a feature on Scott this weekend on NBCSN’s pre-race show about how he’s the most famous, anonymous badass ever, and he’s perfectly happy being IndyCar’s invisible man. Not sure if PNC branches here had any signage in May but I’ll try to find out. I think he had a crush on Nicole Kidman before he met Emma, that’s the only possible logic for his choice of movies.
Q: In response to the guy that said that older fans don’t give today’s racers the respect that they deserve, it’s because today’s cars are bulletproof. They can’t blow an engine and nothing ever breaks. A.J., Mario and Michael have 161 wins between them. They also have about 200 races between them where they were miles ahead of the field and their cars broke. Scotty has one Indy 500 win when he had the dominant car. Michael has about five Indys where he had the dominant car and it broke. I can personally count 10 races that I attended where he was stinking up the show and his ride let him down. Have your stat guy work this up: what’s the winning percentage for Michael and Scott when their cars were running at the checkered flag? I’ll bet Scott’s is a lot lower.
RM: All it took was a quick email to NBC’s stat guru Russ Thompson and here are his findings: Michael Andretti started 317 races, finished 208 and won 42 for a 20.19 percentage. Scott Dixon has started 296, finished 249 and won 43 times for a 17.27 percent. There is no doubt that Michael lost championships and races because of mechanical breakdowns and today’s engines are so much more reliable, but I think Russ’ statistics show that when both were around at the finish they usually had something to say about the winner.
Q: Is Robert Wickens Greg Moore reincarnated? What a talent. My question is about the impact his presence should have in Canada. Any info on his impact on the Honda Toronto Indy race? I hope it’s massively positive because after the bitching over a good Texas race, with real drivers skill on display, I’m thinking Canada might be the only hope for IndyCar? Canadian fans love the snoozefest F1 race, so it’s time for IndyCar to pounce and get Canada back to the mid 90s with the quality talent and personality on the grid! As someone that’s been to many IndyCar races over the last few decades, Canadian fans were at races like Michigan, Cleveland, Road America, just to name a few in the CART days, so they can have a very positive impact on attendance!
RM: I think Robert would be flattered by that comparison. He’s even more calculating than Greg or Paul Tracy, but just as quick because he’s more mature/older than when those two broke into CART. What he’s done in a short amount of time is even more impressive than those two Canadian icons’ rookie seasons, and I think we need to give Hinch a big salute for taking a pay cut and pushing the team to sign Wickens. Canadian fans are great and I wish we ran two more shows (maybe Calgary, Mont Tremblant or Mosport), especially since two of IndyCar’s stars hail from Toronto.
Q: Does Mark Miles not listen to his fan base? I’ve heard from no one else but Mark Miles that they want double points at Indy and the final race. It reeks of NASCAR’s gimmicks. I hope Mark reads your mailbag and has a change of heart. Double points are stupid and not needed.
RM: I think Mark and Jay Frye both listen to you fans, and I’ve heard more about people disliking the year-end double points than Indianapolis. Hell, Indy was always worth more in USAC’s heyday and it’s the biggest race in the world, so I don’t have a real problem with it, although it can make or break a championship, which isn’t really fair. To your point, the IndyCar title usually comes down to the last race without any gimmicks.
Q: Why, when Canada has a permanent road course, does Miles not pursue it? Fontana is a must to get back on schedule. If Portland works out, stay out west for another week. I know NOLA was a joke the first time, but with all the money they put into the track to meet IndyCar safety needs, maybe another try?
RM: Canada has Mosport, Montreal and Mont Tremblant, but I assume you mean Mosport. It’s close to Toronto so I imagine Kevin Savoree and Kim Green would have to endorse it or promote it, but most people say IndyCars are too fast for it so nobody ever seriously talks about going there. Repeat after me: Fontana isn’t coming back. Good luck finding a promoter for NOLA.