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: What a great weekend in Portland! Not only was the crowd big, but the whole weekend was run very smoothly. IndyCar once again put on an awesome show. My son can’t stop talking about it. Only negative is, I hope next year they water the grass so we don’t get a massive dust cloud every time a car goes off the track.
Brad Heuer, Coeurdalene, Idaho
RM: Great that IndyCar made a new young fan, and I heard from a few fans about the dust so hopefully it will have rained a little more next year (Portland is suffering a major drought), and Savoree and Green will have made provisions to water things down.
Q: Enjoyed meeting you at Portland on Friday and discussing the pre-race promotion that lead up to a fantastic race and crowd. Since I do not live in the Portland area, I couldn’t tell you much about what I saw or heard in the Portland area, but I did forget to mention I had seen billboards advertising the race in Seattle a few weeks before the race. I brought a couple of 30-somethings to the race and got them hooked on IndyCar racing. I have never missed a day at PIR and, like you, was delighted with the turnout. Now let’s get an event sponsor and make it even bigger next year.
Stan Gibford, Bend, OR
RM: I heard there were billboards and that’s always a key, because people can plan a month or two out. But Kevin Savoree said they had a good lead on three of four potential title sponsors, and if those folks showed up last Sunday they had to be impressed. I did see a lot of kids 30 and under all weekend, and that was encouraging.
Q: At Portland, with a car stopped outside Turn 2. IndyCar officials delayed a yellow flag so, according to TV announcing crew, cars could dive into pits under green. That is, IndyCar chose not to close the pits immediately, the normal procedure, effectively favoring some drivers over others. Regardless, a full course yellow was earlier thrown with no delay for Veach going off before the final corner, even though he stopped short of the barrier and immediately drove back onto the track with no apparent new damage. He was already back on track when the yellow was indicated on TV. Why delay one and not the other? Why was a full course yellow thrown for Veach at all? Seems wildly inconsistent.
RM: The answer to your first question is that it’s been kind of an unwritten courtesy that if some cars have already pitted or are pitting when there is a potential caution like a tow-in that the chief steward leaves it green until everyone has had a chance to pit. It is a bit of a manipulation and in the old days if you were lucky enough to dive into the pits before the track went yellow then you got an advantage. In response to your other question, here’s IndyCar race director Kyle Novak:
“Hi Greg – Good observation. IndyCar evaluates driver safety first and foremost when confronted with any situation that may necessitate the need for a full course tellow. The 26 had spun off course with telemetry showing that the 26 had stalled and was in need of a restart by the AMR Safety Team in an area of the course that was unfeasible to do so under a local yellow condition. Additionally, the T10/11/12 complex of Portland International Raceway had already seen six separate incidents of spins and contact throughout the weekend. In the case of the 39 slowing in T4/5/6, telemetry showed no conclusive evidence that the 39 could not continue until the pit stop cycle was nearly complete. So while both situations may seem similar on the surface, they presented entirely different circumstances when making a final determination.”
Q: Why not start the Portland race much further down the front straightaway and bypass the chicane for the first lap? It would have avoided the first lap carnage and not taken cars out at the start of the race. Hope some consideration is given to this next year. And thanks for the excellent broadcasts.
Michael Veretta, Ilderton, Ontario, Canada
RM: Oh no, when you’ve got a straightaway as long and as wide as Portland’s, you want to take advantage of it, and last Sunday everyone got through Turn 1 – it was Turn 2 that created the crash. I’ll pass along your compliments to the NBC team, thanks.
Q: What are your thoughts on moving the starting line at PIR to the backstretch, similar to Mid-O? It might help the initial start but subsequent yellow restarts, not so much…
KWyck, Fort Mill, SC
RM: The most exciting part of many races is the start, and Portland offers one of the widest, fastest flying starts in racing. Everyone managed to get through Turn 1 for a change but tripped in Turn 2. Champ Car tried a standing start in 2007 and it worked perfectly – nobody touched anybody – so I’d favor that before moving to the backstretch. And restarts are key because there was a lot of passing going into Turn 1, and you wouldn’t have that on the backstretch.