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: Just wanted to point out for all of us die-hards who love to bitch over the last few decades that Texas ended with American drivers P1 through P5. The racing was awesome and it was not a pack race. Amazing performance for an American rookie who could have easily won (Herta). Another solid drive from another American rookie (Ferrucci). Great rivalry brewing between two American drivers who are now veterans and have another decade (at least) of racing against each other (Newgarden and Rossi). And even Marco finished in the top 10!
RM: I was getting ready to interview Graham Rahal on NBCSN after the race and he looked up at the scoring tower and said: “Americans sweep the top 5, when’s the last time we saw that? Very cool.” Well the last time, according to NBC stat guru Russ Thompson, was in the next-to-last IRL race of 2001, when it was Jaques Lazier, Sam Hornish, Eddie Cheever, Jeff Ward and Donnie Beechler. Now Wardy was born in Scotland but grew up in California, so I count him as an American. If you don’t count him as a Yank then it was Gateway the race before, with Al Unser Jr., Mark Dismore, Hornish, Cheever and Robbie Buhl.
Q: Scatter-shooting after attending Saturday’s race: Herta made a fan out of me, having the only stones in the field to use the outside of Turns 1&2. Scratching my head why Rossi didn’t at least try it once versus Newgarden in the late stages? Dixon/Herta was a 50/50 deal, but surprised Dixon conceded the way he did and Herta took little to zero fault for it. Much better race than last year, hope everyone enjoyed it. We need more ovals in the series. Aren’t you glad the FIA doesn’t officiate IndyCar?
RM: Herta is something else and was the star of the show, but he and Dixie were racing hard, going for the same spot, and it was avoidable but more of a racing accident than anyone’s fault. Rossi would have tried but never got a good enough run going into Turn 1. That b.s. call in the F1 race made me wish A.J. would have been in Vettel’s place, or at least owned his car. Can you imagine that post-race interview and podium ceremony?
Q: I thought the race at Texas was one of the best of the year. Colton Herta was doing some unbelievable passes until the contact with Dixon. What is it about Texas that seems to make exciting racing more often than not?
John Montgomery, Medford, OR
RM: The corners are a little more open than some 1.5-mile ovals and a second groove is usually possible, but Texas seems to bring out the aggression in drivers when it gets dark. And most seemed to think IndyCar’s aero change made for a good show. It wasn’t non-stop passing like the Hanford Device or stuck together like a pack race, you had to get your car working or take some chances (or both) to make passes.
Q: That was other solid race between Herta and Dixon. No one cut the other off, it was a fair fight. Respect to the two that race insane speeds. So to the point, IndyCar is just insanely good, but what do you think about Herta and Dixon?
RM: I guess Colton could have backed off or Scott could have moved up, but then that kinda defeats the purpose of going for it, doesn’t it?
Q: Miller you have preached for years IndyCar needs a big rivalry. Right now it looks like Rossi vs. Penske. That’s OK, but I’m starting to see Rossi vs. Newgarden. It is becoming pretty clear that this will be the championship fight. If Penske is not able to steal Rossi, we could have a long-term rivalry. Newgarden impresses me more and more every week. Yes he drives for the best team, but no matter what issues the team is having, he ends up a factor in the end. I had to go back and re-watch the race again just to understand how he pulled out the win. Yes, it was a great call from the team to get him in position to have a chance, but it was his driving and refuse-to-lose attitude that won it.
I think the front-runners really overlooked him since he had not been running with them throughout the entire race. Very impressed with the rookies. Ferrucci with another great run. Herta, wow, Andretti had better go find some money. Ericsson is starting to find his stride. Lastly, a big shout-out to Conor Daly. I’m sure he is not happy with how the car ran, but to take a car that was not fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500 and finish 11th and only one lap down, that’s like a podium finish in my book. As an IndyCar fan, we can’t ask for much more this season. The racing has been great with plenty of storylines to follow!
RM: That’s why it’s imperative that Rossi stays with Andretti, like I wrote last week – don’t break up the balance of power, and IndyCar needs to hope its current Big 3 lineup stays intact. JoeNew is a threat to win any race, and possesses a great temperament in the car that helps if things are rocky at the start. Daly did a marvelous job under the circumstances, while Ferrucci and Ericsson drove smart and smooth for their first test at Texas.