Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 13, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Will these three be in the front row photo at the end of qualifying at Indy this year? Image by Abbott/LAT

This may have been asked before, but do you anticipate a possible controversy should someone who didn’t qualify fast enough to make the last row on Sunday, qualify faster than the slowest car(s) already locked into the 10-30 positions? After all, it is supposed to be the fastest 33 cars.

Al Schonberg, Rockford, IL

RM: Oh yeah, when I wrote my commentary on qualifying a couple of weeks back I said the only negative was that somebody who got locked in on Saturday could actually be slower than one of the last row qualifiers on Sunday and still make the race. So it’s possible the 33 fastest don’t make the show.

Q: In last week’s Mailbag, many were critical of taking away the suspense of bumping into the last three on Sunday due to the one-run limitation. People missed the fact that it shifted to Saturday with teams trying to make the top 30. Multiple runs are allowed, and I would think teams would be desperate to avoid the Sunday last-three run. Am I missing something? Also, I grew up going to midget and sprint car races with my dad. I really enjoyed the midget races at IMS last year and plan to take my six- year old grandson (two-time 500 attendee) to a dirt race this summer. Other than IMS, which occurs when school is back in session, what track in central Indiana would you recommend?

Jim, Fishers

RM: Nope, you are spot-on. Drivers can make as many attempts as time allows on Saturday, and there will be plenty of drama to see who gets in and who gets left out for Sunday morning. Take your grandson to Bloomington, Paragon, Kokomo, Putnamville or Gas City to see a weekly sprint car show and he’ll be thrilled.

Q: So having read your latest commentary on the new Indy qualifying schedule, can you please clarify one thing: how many attempts will be given to each car on Saturday? If it’s as it has been in the past (multiple tries until the gun goes off), the “bump” has simply been redefined. Instead of racers clamoring to get in a run that keeps them in the 33, I would think you’ll see similar efforts to be one of the 30. Is some team sitting in the slowest group really going to shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well, I’ll just wait until tomorrow and see how that plays out”? Perhaps Saturday doesn’t have exactly the same stakes, but there should still be drama. And at the end of the day, you will have nine cars eager for the next day and the chance to earn the pole, 21 relieved that they’re in, and the other six or so about to get little sleep as they fret about their chances for making the race. Now, that all said, if the rules on Saturday are different, I reserve the right to flip my opinion!

Thomas Manheim, West Lafayette

RM: Yes, multiple tries and, to your point, the jockeying near the end of the day for that 30th spot could be as entertaining and dramatic as anything we’ve seen in the past decade. And the pole and last row will be decided on NBC.

Q: Reading the Mailbag this morning and it seems most people are missing the mark on their takes for Indy 500 qualifying and the one shot to make it in on Sunday. I think this will make Saturday as compelling as Bump Day was last year. Each car with an unlimited amount of attempts to lock their car in to the field of 30 – it’s just like bumping into a field of 33, but now we have five or six cars shooting to make that mark and assure their spot in the field. Then, Sunday you get one more chance to make the final three spots, so it seems like Saturday and Sunday have both become bump days. I am looking forward to it!

Kaleb H., Anderson, IN

RM: I totally agree Kaleb, because Saturday has a lot more meaning, and all the theatrics will play out Sunday on national television.

Q: On Saturday, the first five hours will be carried on Gold with the final hour on NBCSN. Am I reading this right? Only one hour on ‘regular TV’ on Saturday? If so that’s a huge fail. Secondly, for the gentleman who asked about hotels for Road America, I think you had that backwards. Sheboygan is closer (under 20 miles). Fond du Lac would be further.


RM: The last hour figures to be the most exciting and Sunday is all NBC, so I don’t think that’s a big drop. How many people stayed tuned all afternoon on Saturday? I like ramping up the intensity on Sunday. And thanks for the geography lesson, no wonder I always get lost going to Road America.

Q: First, with IndyCar working on making the car more difficult to drive and putting more back into the driver’s hands, has the series ever considered converting back to standard sequential shift levers as another element? I find myself watching old footage of years past in awe of drivers keeping the car under control in traffic while still “grabbing a gear.” Second, considering taking my dad and fiancee to an IndyCar event this year or next, any recommendations for newer IndyCar fans? Dad went with me to Richmond in ’07 and seemed to enjoy it, but my fiancée has never seen open-wheeler in person, so working on two new fans for the series!

Kyle Lockrow

RM: Shifting gears was an art in road racing, but sadly, it’s never coming back. I hate paddle shifting but it’s here to stay. Depending on where you live and how much your fiancée likes you, Road America is splendid because you can walk all around (golf cart is advisable) or camp and enjoy road racing and brats. Iowa and Gateway are good short tracks if you like ovals, and Toronto would likely score you brownie points with your lady because it’s a cool city with lots to do.

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