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: Have any changes to the Speedway aero kit been made since Indy? I know there was talk of possible changes being made before Pocono.
Bruce K, Philadelphia
RM: Yep, two optional front wing pieces will be available this weekend. As Marshall Pruett explained a few weeks ago: “The primary piece, which bolts to the trailing edge of the front wing from the center inwards, is an extension that creates a wider chord and gives a slight increase in downforce. The secondary piece, which has a Gurney flap at its training edge, mounts to the outer half of the front wing and offers a smaller extension to the chord. With both pieces affixed, an approximate downforce increase of three percent is expected. The four pieces are also open for teams to use however they prefer.”
Q: The 2018 aero kit has provided some of the best racing we have seen, especially at street and “motorcycle and sports car” courses. Think Road America, Mid-Ohio and Detroit. I remember when the talk surrounding Barber was that it was designed for bikes not IndyCar, yet it seems the perfect facility for the 2018 IndyCar. Not only does it look like the drivers are having to manhandle these cars, but the pit strategy has really opened up. I though Mid-Ohio was one of the best races I have seen at the track.
A tight technical track like Laguna Seca falls right into that category next year. I am excited to see added horsepower in a few years. I am sad that we won’t see IndyCar at Watkins Glen in 2018. Happy to read that IndyCar is in discussion for a return to The Glen in the near future. How likely do you think that is to happen? IndyCar needs to be at that facility! And what other road courses might put on great shows when conventional wisdom used to indicate otherwise?
Jordan Glenn, Binghamton, NY
RM: Juan Pablo Montoya and Oriol Servia both predicted the new aero kits would make the cars more fun and challenging to drive because they slide around, and that’s exactly what has happened. We’re all praying Laguna can somehow be transformed into racy with these kits next year, but Barber at least has a couple of passing zones so no guarantees. Montreal and Road Atlanta would seem to be candidates, although IndyCar always says RA is too fast.
Q: I am loving the IndyCar 2018 season. I hadn’t watched the series for 10 or more years because the racing was poor. I hope F1 follows IndyCar’s lead with low downforce soon. One thing I don’t like is the Dallara design. I have never liked the low-nose concept. I was a huge fan during the 80s and 90s. I loved the Reynard designs. Brutal looking. I think the current Indy Lights cars are far better-looking cars than the IndyCars. Noses not as low, and far more aggressive. Better looking cars, please! I know this is silly, but what are your thoughts?
RM: I don’t mind how they look as long as they continue to race as well as they have in 2018. But I do like the look of the Pro Mazda and Lights cars, so maybe Dallara gets a little zoomier up front in the next configuration.
Q: My question involves the 2019 schedule and filling the last “open” spot (Phoenix’s replacement). With the success of the aero kit at Iowa, why are Frye and Miles not locking down Richmond as the option? My father Jim and I attended our first IRL race there in ’07 and the place was packed, plus the racing was awesome. Yes, Dario had the field covered that night, but Andretti-Green Racing went three for five in the “W” column between ’04-’08, so they had the setup down. The most exciting part was watching my driver, Buddy Rice, start 12th and weave his way up to a fifth place finish for Reinbold’s team, which proved you could pass. This would add another oval, bring back the DC/Richmond fans and business market (opportunity for race sponsor potentially), plus provide a damn good race for 2019!
Kyle Lockrow, La Plata, MD
RM: It’s just not that easy. First of all, Richmond hasn’t hosted IndyCars since 2009 so it’s got to determine if it’s viable again. The crowds were good, maybe 30,000, but not close to being packed like NASCAR was, and the racing was entertaining the first three/four years before becoming kind of a parade. There are Cup races in April and September next year, so the summer months would work if ISC is interested. IndyCar is interested for sure, but between sanction fees, dates and tracks already scheduled, it’s not an easy equation and it takes two to tango.
Q: No big surprise that Dixon is staying with Chip. I’m not sure I would have given up that seat for an unknown, and the team seems like it’s built around, and for, him. I guess the question now is, who’s his teammate going to be? And does this mean that Pagenaud is safe at Penske? Any other silly season updates?
Jim Doyle, Hoboken, NJ
RM: Despite Chip pooh-poohing the idea there was a serious bidding war for Dixon, there most certainly was, and it was more than McLaren/Andretti. But Scott is smart and wasn’t going to leave one of the best teams in motorsports to take a flyer on a new team that may or may not be up and running by 2019. Read the story about the second seat at Ganassi and you wonder who is on the shortlist, or even available? Not sure what the future holds for Simon, but it’s hard to fathom that we’re wondering if the 2016 IndyCar champion’s ride is in jeopardy.