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 wonder if Alex Rossi will learn that you can’t win a championship in the last few races of a season, but you also can’t throw away races during the season. What would the championship look like if he did not throw away the second place finish he should have had at Detroit when he flat-spotted his tire while trying to keep RHR behind him?
Allan, Green, OH
RM: Of course Rossi probably wishes he had those second-place points today, but he dominated that race and was going for the victory, so that’s racing. His aggressive style has served him well the past two years, and he doesn’t seem like the type to dwell on a mistake. Everybody makes them. I imagine he regrets that untimely yellow at Portland (when he was pulling away) just as much.
Q: I am a fan of the 2019 schedule because of the consistency and it has a lot of quality tracks. I would prefer the finale to be at a different track, but I am sure that could change in the future. I noticed there are three-week gaps between races three times, and one four-week gap. It seems like Richmond will fill one of those gaps in 2020, but do you think there are other possibilities as well? Also, is there any news about Mazda being replaced and more importantly, a new series sponsor?
Brian, Plainfield, Illinois
RM: Laguna Seca is only the 2019 finale for now, and I think Jay Frye would love to finish on an oval but we’ll see how much moaning the owners will do if they’re not allowed to sip wine in California. I know Richmond is exploring 2020, and I think Montreal could be back in play by 2021. No news about your last two questions.
Q: I’ve been hearing all the speculations about McLaren, Andretti Autosport and Harding Racing. Could McLaren be thinking of buying Andretti outright, and then Michael would take over Harding so he would have a team for Marco? I heard Marshall’s podcast with Mike Hull and Mike said he thought that McLaren should start their own team, and it got me thinking… Andretti has all the equipment and engineers ready to go, what do you think? Also Fernando looked good. Can’t wait for 2019!
RM: I don’t think Zak Brown and McLaren want to do anything but lease a couple cars and crews from Andretti, because it would be much cheaper and make the most sense. We’re not sure McLaren’s board of directors is sold on this IndyCar idea, so the more affordable and less cumbersome, the better.
Q: As a huge Alonso fan, I am of course dying to hear the latest on his Barber test, the potential for a full-time 2019 IndyCar ride, and McLaren’s progress on putting a team together (and if there is any gossip on who might be in a second car). I know that this has been asked before, but since so many of the classic non-oval ‘90s tracks are making big, well-received comebacks, is it getting to be time for Burke Lakefront Airport to make an appearance on the 2020 schedule? Seeing the current generation cars and drivers (Alonso) go five, six and seven-wide on the runways would captivate a new generation of fans too young to remember the glory days.
RM: The Andretti mechanics who worked the test said Fred had a great time, ran very competitive times, and liked the way you could throw the car around (he started out running in the rain). Here’s my prediction: the Andretti/McLaren team will be Fernando and Marco. Cleveland would be a welcome addition to the schedule, but nobody talking to them at the moment.
Q: Just wanted to say how impressed I am with Zach Veach. He reminds me of Josef both in how he handles himself, and his ascension to becoming one of the fastest drivers in IndyCar. It’s clear he really understands car setup. He is quickly becoming the guy I am rooting for. I love his attitude, and how every time you see him, he has a smile on his face. I’m looking forward to seeing how his career develops next season. Also, I am really happy to see IndyCar going from strength to strength. Maybe the people out there are beginning to wise up and realize what we have all known for decades – IndyCar is the best racing in the United States!
RM: I think Zach is one of the best stories in all of motorsports, and it’s impossible not to like him or cheer for him. He just continues to get a little better each race, and Rossi gave him big props for helping with the Pocono setup. Veach also has a great family, and that helps explain his humble personality.
Q: It was so cool to attend my first ever IndyCar race in Portland! Do you know why there wasn’t a warm-up on Sunday morning? I think a 30-minute session at 9:00 am would be a great addition to the schedule. One more support race would be cool too – perhaps a local production car grid? My dad says the SCCBC used to have a one-hour “Enduro” at the Molson Indy Vancouver, complete with driver changes.
Jake Trueman, Richmond, BC
RM: IndyCar discontinued Sunday morning warm-ups this season on road courses, but I think they’re having second thoughts because the fans at Road America and Mid-Ohio were very vocal about wanting them, and it just makes sense with all those campers. So Portland would also be a good candidate as well. There were four support races at Portland, so not sure another is needed.
Q: Typing one-handed from hospital bed; please excuse. Portland was on it’s record 44th day in a row without rain during the race! The Portland track is actually below the Columbia. Look up Vanport for the original history and levee breach in 1948. Track has been kept to be affordable and friendly for club racing; i.e. cheap.
Steve Levin, Vancouver Washington
RM: The only real complaint about Portland was all the dust and your weather fact explains it, but I think watering those areas would be advisable next year.