Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for March 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


It’s not a lack of talent that’s keeping Derani from the IndyCar grid. Image by Dole/LAT

Q: You may have answered this question in the past, but just wondering if any IndyCar team has tested Pipo Derani? He was lightning fast the past couple of years racing in IMSA for Tequila Patron, and is fast this year in the DPi Cadillac. Your thoughts on his prospects? Yes, it probably takes some sponsors to come on board for him to move up to IndyCar.

Paul Richins, Northern California

RM: Marshall Pruett reports: “Arrow SPM tested Pipo two or three years ago at Sebring, and were pleased with his performance. At the time, the team was only interested in paying drivers for its second car, and as a driver for the Patron-sponsored ESM IMSA Prototype team, it looked like Patron was going to fund some IndyCar racing for Pipo, but that fell through. Along with Colin Braun and Felipe Nasr, Derani needs to be on a lot of short lists when seats open up and pros are needed to be hired.”

Q: So we all know Dixon is great, yeah? Except when partnered with Franchitti, Dario outperformed him week after week, winning three Indy 500s and four championships. But his came within, effectively, four years, and one car. When we take a look at Dixon’s five championships closer, you notice something: 2003: Panoz G-Force, 2008: IR-05 Dallara, 2013: DW12, 2016: aero kit-era DW12, 2018: universal aero kit. I know the last three were in the same chassis, but the dynamic of the car was changed so much, I think it warrants being called a different car each of those years. Five championships in five different cars. Trying to remember the last time someone won the title in two different chassis… it must have been back in days when people showed up with their own machines. It’s just unreal to think just how talented you have to be to master so many cars on completely different ends of the spectrum.

And finally, it was heartbreaking to hear about Father O’Connor. As someone who has followed the INDYCAR Ministry for a while, and will be a confirmed Catholic a couple of weeks after Barber, I was really looking forward to meeting him. It really must take a true passion for this sport to do what he did for so long. God bless him. And God bless you for all your profanity-filled rants and tirades over the years! See you in Barber!

Jesse Vincent

RM: Dario and Dixie did a nice job of pushing each other, but it wasn’t quite as one-sided as you portray it. Yes, Franchitti did capture three championships and three Indy 500s, but Scott won more races (16-13) during that 2009-2013 span as teammates. And his versatility has never been questioned. Sebastien Bourdais was the last to take titles in two different chassis (2006 with a Lola and 2007 with a Panoz). The Rev Glenn was not your ordinary man of the cloth, but truly a man of the people who loved racing and did lots of nice things for lots of people. I hardly cuss anymore other than when I’m awake. See you at Rusty’s.

Q: My question is in regards to Meyer Shank Racing’s commitment to the 2019 season, competing in 10 events this year including the first six races. Jack Harvey and the MSR team put in what I thought was a great performance all weekend in St. Petersburg, capped off with a top 10 finish in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. I am not trying to jump the gun here, but I wonder, if MSR (with Arrow Schmidt Peterson) were to continue with results like this throughout the early part of the season, is there a chance that we could see MSR run the entire season? And the same inquiry would be asked of Arrow Schmidt Peterson and the support/resources it is providing to MSR.

Jamie Doellinger, Wrightsville, PA

RM: Harvey is a good racer and that was a strong debut, and you would expect him to keep improving since he’ll have six races in a row instead of running one month, sitting out a few weeks and then coming back. I suppose if he won a race that might get Jack some more starts, but it’s usually all about budget, so unless Mike Shank hits tonight’s lottery, doubt if Sam is going to add any races.

Q: With the TV ratings coming out, do those numbers include streaming or just TV? I’m guessing the numbers may be down also because availability to our Australian/Canadian friends, or are those just U.S. viewership numbers? RC Enerson amazed us years ago, and backed it up with a great test with Carlin. After Pato’s announcement, will we see RC in a car? Finally, does IndyCar have a sponsorship issue? Four cars in St. Pete were unsponsored. Firestone sponsors two races, Honda/Acura four, Chevy two and four are unsponsored – two of which are new circuits. Four sponsors also sponsor teams, one sponsor is not affiliated with a team, tire company or a manufacturer, and we have a new title sponsor… which also sponsors a team. Is that alarming?

Ryley Weir

RM: TV ratings are for USA only and last year’s opener was on network, which is always going to outdraw cable, but it was NBCSN’s best rating for an opener in a decade. Have no idea if RC has any money, so that will determine his opportunity. Sponsorship is tough to find in all of motorsports, but I think IndyCar is in pretty decent shape all things considered. And four cars might not have had signage, but they were all paid for, trust me.