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 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’m glad that you have returned to the Mailbag, and I hope you continue to get back to 100%. After the recent ride swap between Jimmie Johnson and Fernando Alonso, Jimmie said that he would be interested in possibly running some road course races in IndyCar, as well as trying other races as well in the next few years. Who would you love to see make crossovers to IndyCar? You can choose any series you want: NASCAR, IMSA, WEC NHRA, F1, World of Outlaws, Motocross, you name it.
Kevin from North Carolina
RM: Lewis Hamilton on a road course with the same equipment as everyone else. When Mansell came to CART as world champion we figured he’d mop up on the road courses, but he won five time on ovals and only once on a street circuit, so it would be interesting to see how Hamilton fares. Obviously love to see Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Kevin Harvick on an oval in an IndyCar along with USAC’s Kody Swanson, Bobby Santos and WoO’s Donnie Schatz.
Q: After the Harding/Steinbrenner announcement, you indicated that one more fairly significant IndyCar item was in the works that would make racing fans happy, but that you couldn’t reveal any details until finalized. My question is, is that item still brewing? Oh, any series sponsorship rumors? Is NBC helping them with their efforts?
RM: It’s still alive, but not kicking as hard as a couple months ago. It should be yea or nay in the next couple weeks. IndyCar is working on a title sponsor, but I don’t think NBC is involved.
Q: I would bet you have the story already about when Andretti makes the switch to Chevy, but thought I would pass this to you. My wife overheard a conversation at the Starbucks in the new development over at Crawfordsville and High School Road. Once the Rossi talk came up towards the end of what she heard, I wondered if they would be going to Chevy for 2019. It started with talk about calling Michael. Then announcing the signing, but not before the LA Auto Show so they don’t upset Honda. She then caught “Chevy is not going to be pushing to announce it immediately” and them putting the McLaren logo in an email. There was a joke about the poor exec who stuffed the ‘Vette into the wall at Detroit before they started to talk about Rossi. She didn’t email me anything after that point. This went down from noon to 1:00 today, Wednesday 28th. She follows IndyCar enough to have an idea what they were talking about, and figured I would find it interesting Hope you keep getting better.
RM: Well thanks Dave for the info, love stuff like this, but it’s not going to happen. Andretti is under contract to Honda for 2019 and no getting out of it, but Alonso and McLaren will run a Chevrolet. I think they’re renting Bryan Herta’s shop in Brownsburg, but not sure if there’s going to be any kind of Andretti connection.
Q: I’ve read that McLaren is going to Indy with Alonso in 2019. It was saying that they were running a Chevy-engined car, with assistance from Andretti Autosport. Is this confirmation that Andretti is switching to Chevy power, since I cannot see Honda wanting to share information if Andretti supports both manufacturers?
Frank Vessell, Phoenix, AZ
RM: As I wrote in the question above, Andretti may have asked Honda to be released from his contract for 2019 but it’s not going to happen, so I don’t know if Michael will have any connection with Zak Brown, Fernando and McLaren. Bob Fernley is running the team and I imagine there could be Andretti mechanics involved, but there was a perceived mutiny in the IndyCar paddock when it was suggested Michael might be running Chevys and a Honda. And I believe IndyCar even looked at implementing a rule forbidding it. But this much we know for sure: McLaren will be in a Chevy, not a Honda.
Q: Hey Robin, so glad to hear you are getting better, I need to see you in the paddock at Long Beach next year! Any word on the title sponsor search for IndyCar? Seems to be getting a little late here; lots of swag and signage to print up, I imagine. I have a son who lives in Indiana and keeps his ear to the railroad track – he says the word on the street is that there have been some pretty big swings and misses. What do you hear?
Bill, Vista, CA
RM: The only thing I’ve heard is that IndyCar was close a couple weeks ago and it was hoping to have something to announce before January 1, but that’s cooled off, so not sure.
Q: Great to hear and read you again Robin, and hope you’re getting better each day. Your reference to John Andretti was heartfelt and spot-on. Huge Andretti family fan all around, and John is one of the best guys in and out of a racing suit. I know he has a tough struggle. We’re pulling for him, Nancy and the family. Let’s have 2019 show cleaner bills of health for you, John, and Marshall’s wife!
Mike DeQuardo, Waukesha, WI
RM: I was talking to Mario a couple days ago about what a fighter his nephew is, and he agreed that John’s attitude and perseverance is second to none. I think he’s got a big surgery coming up, so please use your prayers for him and Marshall’s wife – I’m good for another six or seven years at least. But thanks for your kind words.