Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 19, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 19, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 19, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Larry Foyt calls the day-to-day shots at A.J. Foyt Racing. Image by LAT

Q: As is well known, A.J. Foyt is a proud and forceful presence in IndyCars. How does having his name on a team which, despite a revolving door of drivers is perennially at the back, sit with the notoriously impatient Foyt? Is his volatile presence part of the problem?

Snuffy Smith II

RM: No, A.J. is pretty hands-off compared to a decade ago, and it’s pretty much Larry Foyt’s team. There have been some nice upgrades to the team the past couple years, but with a rookie and a veteran I don’t think there’s much in the way of technical feedback compared to Andretti or Penske, and that’s huge today.

Q: This is not directed at you, but please try to rationalize the shaft us IndyCar fans were shown today by cutting away to go to the NASCAR “playoff.” Embarrassing. NBCSN promotes the IndyCar finale and then decides, nope, we’ll cut to another network to show a contrived NASCAR finish and then stick around for the meaningless victory lap and winner’s interview. All-around poor move by NBCSN. At least I know where IndyCar stands with NBC: at the bottom.

Tony Lynch

RM: Please read my response a couple of questions back. NBC went after IndyCar and it’s going to be a big part of the motorsports market of NASCAR, IMSA and SuperCross. What happened last Sunday was simply unfortunate. No network is going to not show the finish of the race it’s had on for three hours, and CNBC was the backup plan. And IndyCar will get more airtime, more promotion and more exposure from NBC and NBCSN next year than it’s ever had with anyone else.

Q: Thanks for the vids, and I loved your podcast with Kelly Crandall. I’ve got a few questions this week. What would your choice for the IndyCar schedule be, and what supporting racing would you like? What tracks do we need to go back to, or drop? What happened to the car counts in Indy Lights? Yes, IndyCar needs to promote the series much more. I’d love to see a commercial with Fernando saying “My name is Fernando Alonso, remember it. Because I’m going to win the Indy 500 and the championship next year”. Now flash to the current 500 winners laughing, now have a rookies O’Ward and Herta come in and say, “Uh, remember Nigel Mansel?” They all frown. Flash back to Alonso with a big smile and he says “See you next year.”

Steve Coe, Lemon Grove, CA

RM: If I had promoters, I’d add Cleveland, Richmond, Mexico City and maybe Kentucky. Here’s a take from Mazda Road to Indy boss Dan Andersen:

“Indy Lights as you know suffered a “perfect storm” this year with too many Lights drivers moving up to IndyCar, some earlier than they should have, and Carlin Racing parking their four-car team at least for the moment. IndyCar and I have a solid five-year-plan for rebuilding, and their new licensing requirements will prevent every driver with a bankroll from buying an IndyCar seat at prices not much higher than an Indy Lights budget. Truth is, we need more IndyCar teams to support Indy Lights, rather than simply taking (and too early) our drivers. The Road to Indy ladder is working well, and while we have some issues to address, our history should allow us some time to address them.”

Q: Saw a Twitter post with Mike Hull talking about the engine war in IndyCar and was wondering how lopsided the engine performance was this year? And do you think it’ll be different in 2019? Thank you and to RACER for great reporting!

Glenn Weaver, Charlotte

RM: Honda won the manufacturers title for the first time since Chevrolet came back to IndyCar in 2012, and Honda scored 11 victories to six for the Bow Tie, but Ganassi made the move in 2015 because Honda paid him handsomely. And, yes, I think Pagenaud wins a couple times in 2019, so that really balances the sheet.

Q: I’ve been seeing many of the readers talking about Plexiglas replacing catch fencing. Wouldn’t plexi that’s thick enough to hold a car be the same as a wall and need to softened? My opinion is, just raise the wall and SAFER Barrier where possible.

With Honda winning the manufacturers’ title, will Chevy look for a better team to sign, or possibly ask Penske to go back to four cars?  I think Chevy needs more bullets in their gun to compete with Ganassi and the Andretti group.

Bruce in Philly

RM: Take too long to explain all the reasons Plexiglas isn’t feasible, but trust me, IndyCar has looked into it and it’s not an option. Chevy won the title in 2016 and 2017 with Team Penske and three cars is plenty, plus Ed Carpenter is always a threat at Indy and so was TK this past May.

Q: I remember Chevy and Penske (I believe) were testing the manufacturer aero kits at COTA prior to the 2015 season. Do you have any idea of lap times that the cars dressed in their manufacturer aero kits were turning? I assume the universal kit should be pretty close, and see higher top speeds on the long straights. Longer braking zones… good passing action?

Tim from Stamford

RM: No. I keep hearing six to seven seconds slower than F1, but who cares? IndyCar will put on a much better show, and I would hope if they could put on a show like they did at Mid-Ohio that COTA will offer plenty of places to pass.

Q: Mr. Miller, all of the sudden rumors of Alfa Romeo and KIA to IndyCar (from Bobby Rahal) seem to be popping up everywhere. Where is IndyCar actually at on this matter and is a story by coming soon? This would be the cherry on top of everything positive to happen to IndyCar lately! Thanks in advance!

Kyle in Germany

RM: Jay Frye is in Switzerland at an FIA conference, but I hadn’t heard these rumors until your letter.