Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 3, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 3, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for April 3, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Will Power has a lot of fans, and none of them were happy with the way the yellows played out at COTA. Image by IndyCar

Q: Is it me, or does Will Power have the worst luck? He leads the whole race then gets caught out by a full-course yellow, and then his car breaks during a poor stop. What’s IndyCar’s thinking on closed pits during full course yellows anyways? It totally screws the leaders, and helps the mid-pack guys running on different strategies. It should be the fastest driver wins.

Sean S., Arvada, CO

RM: He’s certainly had more than his share of the Yellow Plague, but it really didn’t matter this time because his car broke down. And Herta wasn’t a mid-pack guy, BTW.

Q: When is IndyCar going to stop manipulating the results of a race by continuing with the caution rules? When a caution is called, every driver’s position at that moment should be locked until restart. Even if Power had made it out of the pits, he would have been where Rossi ended up. The final results of the race are not accurate. I watched the entire race, and there is no way the final results reflect what actually happened. Power and Rossi (and at times Herta) were driving away from the field. No challengers. They drove so well they could stay out longer. What is the reward? A random caution takes away all the work they did, and shuffles them back in the field. Right before the caution I was explaining to my two sons that if a caution happens anytime soon, Power, Rossi and Herta will get screwed. I sure sounded like a racing genius when it happened. Power was correct – if the crankshaft had not gotten him, the yellow would have. Hey IndyCar, let’s catch up to all the other series and change this caution nonsense.

Pete in Austin, Will Power fan

RM: I think everyone hates to see a race decided by a caution, but I also know that all the IndyCar teams know the rules and the consequences. That’s why it made no sense to leave Will and Alex out and tempt fate when pitting would have been logical. And IndyCar isn’t the only series that closes the pits on a yellow flag.

Q: What a great race at COTA. I mean, it wasn’t the suspenseful ‘who’s going to win it in the last three turns’ but damn, it had a bit of everything – good clean racing, and some great moves. I cannot be happier, our series is back. Just a comment regarding pit closures – why on earth do we still do that? Are we not the only series that does this? It seems like a driver should be able to get to the pits whenever he needs to. Isn’t there a safety component to this? Got my tickets to Long Beach. Been to every race since 1980!

B. Davison

RM: NASCAR and IMSA do the same thing, and yes, safety is the major reason.

Q: It seems inexplicable that IndyCar hangs onto the rule that closes pits upon a yellow. Will Power’s comments after his mechanical failure were spot-on. The rule throws away hard work and turns the race outcome into a lottery. Colton Herta drove a fine race, but he won only because of the misfortune of Power and Rossi due to this rule. While Power couldn’t return to the track, Rossi did, entering in 13th position after running second before the yellow. At St. Pete, the insane rule that keeps the clock running during a red flag in qualifying turned into a massive disservice to some drivers and the fans. Both of these rules need to be changed. They are killing my interest in IndyCar.

Dale Murray, Mount Joy, PA

RM: As I’ve stated a few times lately, IndyCar tried opening the pits in 2013 and some of 2014, but the teams bitched about ruining strategy so closed pits were re-instituted. And repeat after me, Penske and Andretti knew the risk by not pitting when the window opened, so who do you blame?

Q: Really enjoyed the COTA race, looked like a good turnout and great atmosphere overall.  And of course congrats to Colton! A new era of IndyCar has truly arrived. I’m certain I won’t be the only one to once again complain about that stupid close-the-pits-on-yellow rule, but with the accident happening at the entrance of pit lane, wouldn’t the pits most likely have been closed anyway for safety reasons? I’m thinking the drivers were screwed rule or no rule in this case?

Douglas Cole, Portland, OR

RM: I’m thinking you are spot-on.

Q: Another IndyCar race ruined by the full-course caution lottery. At the end of the day, in my opinion the results are not real, they are contrived. Herta gets the win. Did he earn it? Maybe, but without a true fight with Rossi we will never know. In what is the supposedly top tier of American racing, a team’s race strategy shouldn’t include a fear of catching a full course caution. Closing the pits during full course cautions is another bad idea that IndyCar can’t get away from, just like double points and not stopping the clock when there is red flag during qualifying. These are NASCAR-type gimmicks.

I know you have stated that IndyCar is looking into fixing qualifying, but how long does that take? I know you like to badmouth F1, but a couple of seasons ago they revamped qualifying. It was a disaster, the fans hated it and it only lasted two races before they changed it back. Power said in an interview that this is the only top series that closes the pits for cautions and it needs to change. I couldn’t agree more. Every time this happens and the results are completely skewed it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When the yellow came out and I knew Power and Rossi were going to get screwed, I almost felt like turning the TV off. But at the end of the season IndyCar gets to claim how they had “nine different winners.” What they won’t tell you is three of those winners wouldn’t have even finished in the top 10 except they pitted a lap prior to a full course caution and got lucky.

I am always hoping that IndyCar would fix these things and become a better series than F1, but they seem incapable. It really makes them seem less professional than F1, which is shame for the teams and drivers because the on-track product is better.

Dave, Vineland, NJ

RM: I guess, depending on your perspective, it was ruined for Rossi, but certainly not for Herta, and holding off Newgarden seemed pretty badass to me. And I’m tired of writing this, but knowing the rules, Penske and Andretti still chose to roll the dice after their pit window opened up. Harding/Steinbrenner didn’t. Is it right? No. Is it pure racing? Of course not, but it’s the rules and it’s not like it’s anything new. As for qualifying, the schedule dictates the allotted time and, again, who is to blame if you sit around for five minutes and then don’t get a lap? When qualifying goes green it’s a helluva show and it doesn’t need to be revamped, but maybe tweaked to guarantee one flying lap for everyone.

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