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: Longtime reader, first time writing in. The Indianapolis infield course doesn’t get a lot of love, but that may have been the most entertaining race I can remember in a long time. Most of the big names couldn’t figure out qualifying, lots of new names out front, passes all over the place, and then of course rain for more chaos! These days I pretty much root for ABP (Anybody-But-Penske) to win, but even I couldn’t help but admire Simon’s drive. He’s apparently in a class all by himself in the wet. Keep doing what you do, I look forward to every Wednesday!
RM: Before the race we were talking about how the flat IMS road course had no character, but rain obviously helped make for such an entertaining race. Pagenaud grew up in the rain and certainly earned that victory – chasing down Dixon is no easy feat. Thanks for reading.
Q: Outside of the Indy 500, last Saturday was by far the best race I have ever attended. The entire weekend was action-packed, and the conditions kept things exciting. It was great fun watching everyone struggle with grip entering Turn 1 in the cold conditions on Friday, and of course Pagenaud showed pure talent and hunger in the closing laps with erasing Dixon’s lead. If the Grand Prix is any kind of a preview of what to expect in two weeks, I feel like it’s going to be a hell of a show!
Alan Bandi, Sarver, PA
RM: The way qualifying was mixed up was a precursor to the race, and it rained just enough to make it treacherous but tolerable. Harvey, Jones and Pigot came to the fore in those conditions and made some great passes, while Simon stole the show.
Q: What a race, the best ever on the road course at Indy since its inception. And how about the driving skills exhibited throughout the field during inclement weather conditions? That could easily have been a yellow-flag fest and yet those drivers kept their noses straight, their foot hard on the gas and raced cleanly. Kudos to Diffey, Bell or Tracy who pointed out that Pagenaud trained relentlessly in inclement conditions while driving for Peugot in France. That insight enhanced the viewer’s understanding of Pagenaud’s skills as he over took the top three contenders on his way to victory. And how about Tracy’s comment that that: “Pagenaud’s belief of overtaking Dixon from 35 seconds behind was a bit wishful thinking?” Priceless!
Daniel Bonham, Indianapolis, IN
RM: Yep, as impressive as Pagenaud’s charge was, the fact the drivers ran so close and hard and kept things so clean was what stood out. It was the debut of this rain tire and it seemed to be an improvement over the old one, and I think we were all expecting a crash-fest and instead were treated to a damn fine road race. Maybe even better than COTA. There were a total of 189 passes for position – that’s impressive.
Q: We just witnessed the answer to your last week’s question about a great race. That was fantastic to watch! A mixed-up qualifying grid, lots of passing, tire strategy, push to pass strategy, Harvey on the podium, and Pagenaud back at the top. Throw in a little rain for some drama. I don’t get too excited about this race usually, as most minds are on the Indy 500, but it was a great start to the month of May in Indianapolis.
Mark Suska, Lexington, OH
RM: Well put. This race never thrilled anyone before last Saturday, but a combination of the elements and some good driving made for a helluva show. From Harvey’s opening move to Pagenaud’s pass at the end, it held our attention for two hours and that’s all you can ever hope for in a road race.
Q: Glad to see Simon finally get the monkey off his back. I’m sure he’s still under pressure from Roger to perform to a higher standard. Hopefully Penske will keep him for another year. At least the GP was competitive this year. Enjoyed your article on Ed Carpenter, been a longtime fan of his.
RM: Oh yeah, you can’t go more than a year without a victory at Team Penske and not be concerned, and Pagenaud understands the situation. But even if he’s replaced for 2020, he’ll get hired by Arrow SPM or somebody because he’s got a lot of good years ahead of him.
Q: You asked us last week to tell you what we feel makes good racing. Well, I think the Indy GP was a prime example. Watching Pagenaud hunt down and pass Dixon with two laps to go was one of the most exciting moments this season. And Jack Harvey having a stellar day (a stellar weekend, to be honest) and earning his own and his team’s first podium was thrilling. I enjoyed every minute of the broadcast, [OK, I do wish there had been more post-race interviews, but I do understand about the time constraints of being on the parent peacock]. The 2019 GP definitely was the very best race in its short history!
RM: Don’t think we could have asked for any better in NBC’s first network show, and the 0.85 overnight rating was encouraging since road races are tough to stay with many times.