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 must say it has been refreshing to have two IndyCar races in a row where the fastest driver simply dominated, and the team executed as well to take the victory. We IndyCar fans have become so spoiled (in a good way) with ever-changing race winners, alternate strategies, danger zone cautions, and plenty of passing. Sato and Rossi’s dominance of the last two races reminded me of a time when drivers would lap up to third place, and everyone still loved the racing.
Shawn From Miami/Detroit
RM: Rossi’s rout reminded me of Mario, Michael and Little Al in days gone by at Long Beach when one driver was untouchable. Four winners in four races is good stuff, but the LBGP has usually been pretty mundane in terms of great duels for the win. And, as you said, it didn’t make any difference if Mario lapped the field.
Q: Who has the most wins of Andretti Autosport’s 200? I tried to search but could not find the answer. My guess is, Scott Speed is top five, IMSA/Lights drivers are close behind.
RM: Ryan Hunter-Reay leads the way in IndyCar with 15 and Tony Kanaan has 14, while Matt Brabham scored 13 in what was then Pro Mazda. (ED: And all in one season!). Scott Speed captured 14 rallycross wins, and Tanner Foust 13. Pato O’Ward has the most Lights win with nine, and Sage Karam also has nine in US F2000.
Q: Rossi was on a different planet on Sunday. They found the right setup, and he put on a clinic. My question is, with Long Beach being the biggest street race of the season, how come it was aired on NBCSN and not NBC? Seems like the perfect race to televise nationally.
Eric, London, OH
RM: NBC has had a longstanding relationship with the NHL and Stanley Cup playoffs take precedent, in addition to getting pretty good ratings. If Long Beach was willing to move its date then it could be on network, but after 45 years of never being rained on, no chance its coming off its mid-April slot.
Q: First off, your bonus segments at Barber (during commercial breaks) were absolutely great, so thanks for those, and hope to see more in the races to come! So now that the Alabama ratings are out, there’s quite a bit of discussion that made me wonder – and perhaps you can share some insight on this – what exactly determines whether a race is on NBC or NBCSN? Some are more obvious (like anything at Indy or Detroit), but I would have thought it a good idea to have the first few races of the season on NBC for maximum exposure to get people’s attention, with the beautiful season-opener at St. Pete, the spectacular setting of COTA, and especially the perennial classic Long Beach, leading into the month of May.
Yes, maybe the eight network races would be used up early in the season, leaving not much for later. But by then, those viewers who were captured and following can be more efficiently directed to NBCSN, rather than starting off there. Is there a particular logic behind it all, and shouldn’t at least the season opener and the second-most recognizable race be on NBC?
RM: Sports schedules and programming are made up way in advance, and NBC has established relationships with golf, hockey and horse racing, so all three figure prominently into March, April and May. I’m sure NBC would air the IndyCar season opener if there was an opportunity.
Q: I mentioned this before, but with NBC covering the Indy 500 now, what are the chances of CNBC going to Indy and exposing the sport to Wall Street and potentially more sponsors? Seems like a natural.
Chuck, Chelmsford, MA
RM: I don’t know about CNBC, but I’m told The Today Show will be at Indy on Thursday and Friday before the race – another example of NBC flexing its promotional muscle.
Q: There is no way that Rahal blocked Dixon in a manner that warranted a penalty. Are we going back to the reign of The Great Brian Barnhart (TGBB) in officiating? If you are going to call that a block, you better call a lot more blocking then. I would love to see you guys at NBC put together a compilation tape of passes and “blocks.” Then you go back to last year at Long Beach and really have to wonder why Dixon didn’t get a block on Bourdais when he put in over the lane.
Mark in Cincinnati
RM: I think our guys will have some kind of blocking video by our next telecast, or at least the next street race in Detroit, but I will say that the first 20 emails I got about this agreed with you. All drivers want is consistency, but I’ve seen a lot worse not called.
Q: I was happy to see Alexander Rossi win at Long Beach, but I must say, the penalty on Graham was nothing but crap! If that had been a Ganassi or Penske driver, nothing would have happened! It just goes to show in all sports, it’s who you are! Oh well, I’m looking forward to the month of May, and the grand prix, and my 39th Indianapolis 500!
Brian Lancaster, West Lafayette
RM: Interestingly, I had two drivers and a team manager voice that same theory about a half hour after the race, but I have to say that I don’t think Max or Arie play favorites.