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: At first I thought the Indy 500 race was good, but not great. As you have mentioned previously within Mailbag and elsewhere, the IndyCar fans have been spoiled with the recent Indy 500 races in that there is constant passing and action. So admittedly that was my mindset. As a Honda fan over Chevy down the stretch I had my preferences who I’d like to win so when Simon Pagenaud crossed the bricks I was thinking, “Meh.” Then I took a minute after the race to really think about what happened. To me, this was a “Mercedes F1” type domination from Penske and Pagenaud. It was their race to lose when you lead over 100+ laps at the Indy 500, and to lead with what seemed to be ease. So my hat is off to Penske and Pagenaud. Amazing effort with a just result. And the ultimate class act from Pagenaud was during the post-race interviews on NBCSN when he referenced being French but then followed up with thanking America for welcoming him. I thought that was fantastic and refreshing. Is he that good a guy?
Lawrence H., Sanford, FL
RM: It was a great finish but I think we all know the race had two classes – Simon and Rossi and everyone else. And Chevy definitely had a little more steam than Honda so that was the deciding factor. Pagenaud’s praise of America was very cool and classy, just like he is and he’ll make a great Indy champion.
Q: Such a great race! Didn’t want to see another Penske win, but it was fun. Simon will be a great champion. Is there any other racing in the world better than this? Only 364 days till the next one!
RM: Randy Bernard called me and said he made Garth Brooks watch the last 12 laps and they were screaming at the TV like 12-year-olds so that’s a pretty good endorsement.
Q: Santino Ferrucci would have been the driver of the race if it wasn’t for the jaw-dropping performances put on by Rossi and Pagenaud. The kid kept clawing his way forward on track. He earned all of those spots and some of them twice.
Also kudos to Conor Daly and Felix Rosenqvist – they both had great races. The fastest driver won, but Rossi did everything he could to win No. 2 — including putting two wheels on top of pit wall to make some passes.
So on the topic of Rossi: I don’t think Power, Newgarden or Pagenaud are losing a seat. Is Penske expanding to four cars again if he can sign Rossi?
Ryan in West Michigan
RM: I’d say the fastest engine won but I agree with all your observations. Can’t see The Captain ever going back to four full-time cars and like I wrote on Monday, Simon sealed his deal for at least two more years with Team Penske after his amazing month.
Q: Pagenaud and Rossi (and a late charge by Sato and Newgarden falls short) scrap was a modern day duel harkening back to Ward and Rathman. Pretty great. The BIG question is, now that Pagenaud and Power have earned their way into keeping their rides for a while longer and Castroneves has run his last 500, does this put Newgarden on the proverbial hot seat, and will Penske keep a fourth car and add another hotshoe like Rossi (although realistically I don’t see him leaving Andretti) or is there another driver The Captain has his eye on? If so, who? And, we can say it enough, NBC did a terrific job pre-race, race, and post race of covering the 500. And it will only get better.
Jake, Pasadena, CA
RM: Newgarden isn’t on the hot seat, he was leading the points until Sunday and R.P. isn’t going to run four cars even if Mears decides to come out of retirement. I think Roger covets Rossi but this trio is safe for a few more years.
Q: I really enjoyed the Indy 500 this year. It had a fantastic finish. Watching Pagenaud and Rossi slug it out was great. I loved Sato’s effort. Sato and RLL have been great for each other this season. I think Santo Ferrucci really showed some balls around that track. Racing Kanaan out of the pits was awesome TV. When Bourdais and Rahal decided to do the tango, I could not believe my eyes when Santo “threaded the needle” to mow the lawn.
Peter McGinty, Australia
RM: Santino made a lot of fans with his drive last Sunday and was rewarded with Rookie of the Year and Sato came out of nowhere to take third.