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 am tiring of Ganassi and Penske winning all these races (8 for 12, or 67 percent so far). I’m 62 years old I have probably been to the Speedway 100+ times, and approximately 20 or more 500s. Been to Kentucky, Mid-Ohio, and the Baltimore race. I’m just losing interest, and if I were a backmarker I would quit wasting my money, IndyCar is becoming too much like Formula 1. Anybody can win? That’s B.S.; the results don’t show that.
Mike, Cincinnati OH
RM: Well there’s no doubt Team Penske and Ganassi are the dominant teams over the past decade (they’ve won nine of 10 championships and 118 races to date), but Andretti Autosport has captured 27 races in that same period and one title (RHR) and in the past few years Dale Coyne, Schmidt-Peterson and RLL have all scored multiple wins, so it’s really nothing like F1. And Ed Carpenter won the pole and ran second at Indy last May.
This season has Team Penske with five wins, Ganassi three, Andretti two, SPM and Coyne one apiece, while F1 has had three teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull) win all the races, and NASCAR is dominated by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex (they’ve won 14 of 19 races), so IndyCar still is the best place for a surprise winner. I realize The Captain and Chip have the most experience, depth and budget, but as an example, last year Scott Dixon only had one victory.
Q: My wife has become an IndyCar fan since I took her to races at Pocono and Texas, and she can hold her own in conversations with other fans now. She has become fans of two drivers: Rossi and Daly. Now I have been following both of them since about ’09 and I am a fan of them myself, especially since they are closer to my age. However, the Amazing Race took my casual IndyCar fan wife (who said she was a Rossi fan) and made her a bigger Rossi fan and a fan of Daly. Daly also does so much on the social media side compared to every other driver, and he has fans that will travel – half of Noblesville, Indiana was at Watkins Glen two years ago!
All that being said, what does this guy have to do to get a full-time seat? He took the Harding car and qualified it just outside the top 10, and gave the team its best finish. He has been able to jump into many different cars and get good runs out of them (examples: Long Beach 2015, Detroit ’16, and Gateway ’17), and was one of Autosport magazine’s top GP3 drivers in his last year over there. I know he lacks funds, but he can race, and I suspect he is a fan favorite. Granted he doesn’t look like these wunderkinds that move up quickly, but he seems to be able to be a solid racer who is a good teammate and can get a car across the line in a competitive spot. Is he just going the RHR route, or am I am I too optimistic? How does the rest of the paddock see him, and how is his driving viewed?
Andrew Bane, Midland, TX
RM: Conor and Josef raced together a bunch growing up, and when they ran Lights I remember Sam Schmidt thinking CD was a little bit better. Not sure how the paddock sees him, but I think he’s always shown he was a pretty good racer with some chassis savvy who didn’t qualify real strong. It’s tough to judge most when they’ve never driven for a top-tier team, but I thought Conor did a good job for A.J. last season coming down the stretch. Without a little financial support from a couple of friends CD probably wouldn’t have been in the Harding car, but he did a nice job in tough conditions. The Air Force seems to like him so that could be big down the road. Bottom line, he still needs to bring money like so many in IndyCar.
Q: What was the crowd like in Toronto? Did having two drivers from the Toronto area and three Canadians overall boost the attendance?
RM: Better than the last few years. I didn’t see many empty seats, and while there aren’t that many grandstands anymore, it looked full. Ran into co-promoter Kevin Savoree after the race and he was ecstatic with the attendance and the racing. He said that Hinch winning the week before really helped at the box office.
Q: I think Toronto was the best street race I’ve ever seen on TV! I go to Long Beach every year, but this had everything. And the crowd looked huge — any word on attendance quantity or record? I saw your interview and post regarding Andretti having to fuel and that it might’ve been human error – does that mean the car didn’t get filled, or that he didn’t have to go in? Love all this IndyCar momentum, and keep up the good work.
CAM in LA
RM: We have to remember that in the Molson Toronto Indy days there were 70,000 people on race day alone, and towering grandstands down both sides of the straightaway. I don’t know how many seats are standing today, but it’s not a third of the old ones. But they were filled for the first time I can recall, and I imagine it was in the neighborhood of 25,000 (total) on Sunday. But in one of the largest cities in North America and with two Canadian stars, I would hope they could do even better next year. (Of course their space is limited with all the construction over the past decade).