Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Marco Andretti exits Turn 4 at Iowa. Image by IndyCar

Q: James said “giddy-up” at the end of your vid, and he was so right! That was one super-impressive drive to the front, blowing by and surprising the dominant JoNew! That was one of the most entertaining races I’ve ever seen! Near 1,000 on track passes? Whoa! Although the British GP was a pretty good race with an action-packed finish, it pales in comparison to what went down in the Iowa cornfield.

But can you shed some light on what happened with the Andretti team? How can a team so dominant in the test last week struggle for most of the race? Marco seemed to be hit the hardest, qualifying poorly, then going seven laps down before finishing 16th. During the final practice session Saturday night, he sat in the pits most of the session, yet no-one reported on what problems they were facing. I know it was a most difficult weekend for Marco and Michael with the loss of Dee Ann earlier in the week. It would be understandable if Marco’s heart and mind weren’t really in the race. Our hearts ache for the entire Andretti family.

Tony Mezzacca, Madison, NJ

RM: RHR ran up front until his problem, Rossi stalled in the pits so that cost him any chance of a good finish, and Veach ran real well until brushing the wall. Marco tested well but almost crashed during qualifying, and I think they were content after Saturday night’s practice but, of course, it was 15 degrees cooler then than on Sunday, so maybe that had something to do with him being so far off-pace.

Q: How many passes were there at Iowa? The NBCSN TV crew had 800-plus by about the three-quarter mark of the race. It was amazing. Even F1 was worth watching today. Vettel’s pass for the win was fabulous.  One of the best Sundays I have spent on the couch all year. Add in NBCSN’S coverage of Le Tour, and it was a great sports day.

Tom Patrick, Lake Arrowhead, CA

RM: A total of 955, and 234 of them were for position.

Q: Road America – caution-free – that was racing! Iowa – virtually caution-free – amazing race with passing and lapping. Newgarden ran a great race, but not real sure what the wave around/lucky dog was all about after he lapped most of the field by the first stop. Congrats to Hinchcliff for the win. Why were 10 more cars added to the lead lap at that point? Looks like they got the aero package spot-on – or was it the track?

John P. Merli, San Diego

RM: Josef had lapped all but the top five at one point, but after the first caution they waved around five drivers one lap behind to put them back on the lead lap. Some people hate the wave-around and say that’s racing and Newgarden earned that advantage, while others say it’s good for the show. But it was a helluva race.

Q: I would have thought the new aero at Iowa would have made a bigger difference, but obviously half the field figured it out and the other half stayed nervous and ended the race many laps down. What was your honest opinion of the Iowa race? I get the impression from friends that it was probably a lot more interesting on TV than it was in person (I was there… the Lights race wasn’t even a race). Being in Des Moines, I’ve watched IndyCar at Iowa Speedway on TV and in person since it started a decade or so ago. My takeaway is that it is usually more interesting on TV because of all the things TV can do to spice up the show.

This leads me to the conclusion that IndyCar is losing the battle of oval track attendance because the TV is too good to leave home, Knoxville learned their live TV lesson a long time ago. The guaranteed Nationals night sell-outs suddenly started losing attendance, so they went back to tape-delayed TV (delayed by weeks) and, problem solved. I know it’s a fine line and that everything is connected in relation to IndyCar revenues, but if the TV coverage makes that much of a difference in attendance, then other things need to happen at the track so that the event weekend becomes “must-see in person.”

Jeff C., Des Moines, IA

RM: I thought it was the best race of 2018 and one of the best oval races, start to finish, I’ve seen in a long time. There is no doubt more IndyCar and NASCAR fans are watching TV than going to ovals nowadays, but you couldn’t get a sponsor if your races were tape-delayed. And neither IndyCar nor NBC wants it.

Q: Amateur racing – that is what IndyCar looked like Sunday. Everyone should know how the race is going to end. No one had a clue. Proof of that is Newgarden – your defending series champion and current runner-up in the points – pitted and threw two positions away. Worse, the TV staff had no clue what was happening. They were telling fans “we are going green” and the yellow and white come out. IndyCar shoots itself in the foot one more time and robs the fans of a great finish.

 If you’re going to end races under caution, there should be a line in the sand before the event starts. It’s as easy as that. IndyCar should always make an attempt to end races under green. People always throw up “short track, short track” — well I live at the short tracks. I never see races end under caution. Its not a gimmick, it’s racing! If the best drivers in the world cannot do a green/white/checkered, we might have to re-evaluate that description.

Short track Rat

RM: I think IndyCar did try to end under green, but due to its protocol of pitting and waving around lapped cars, and the amount of debris on the track, they ran out of time. I did hear some boos from the crowd (obviously, you always want to end under green) but maybe the fact it was such a damn good race softened it a little. IndyCar does have a provision to throw the red flag, but it was outside that window last Sunday. As I said in an earlier answer, maybe the way to ensure going green from now on is to simply go back to green when the track is ready and to hell with the wave-arounds and pit stops. But don’t compare NASCAR’s Dog & Pony 400 to real racing.