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: What a great day in Elkhart Lake. The rain stayed away, Rossi made a statement, and I am back home in west suburban Chicago at 5:30 p.m. Thanks to the team at Road America for sticking to their guns and having a noon-ish start. The crowd appeared to be significantly bigger today, both in the paddock and in how much further away from start/finish line we parked, than in years past. I think the attendance is growing year over year. I hope so, because even though I enjoy my yearly trek to Indy for the GP and the 500, I really think Road America is my favorite track. Started my day off in Canada Corner for the Indy Lights race and migrated through the paddock and on to Turn 1 by IndyCar green flag. Great day in Wisconsin!
Joe Z in Naperville
RM: You are exactly the person that Road America boss George Bruggenthies targeted when he agreed to bring IndyCar back four years ago. He said the race would never start later than 1 p.m. because he wanted people to get home at a decent hour, and I know several people from Indy that made the trip and were back home by 9 p.m. The sunshine really helped the walk-up crowd but it was another nice turnout to our favorite road course in North America.
Q: I’m wondering about Road America’s date equity. Without going into too much detail, I think putting Road America a week earlier and Texas somewhere later in the season with NASCAR gives teams a break after Detroit, and puts Road America on a weekend where this healthy discussion that’s on a low simmer can have the heat turned up a little bit. I’m referring to F1 drivers starting to complain about how easy their cars are to drive and IndyCar drivers telling us F1 cars are too easy to drive. That said, I’m not sure why Will Power weighed in how he did. I’m not sure he’s driven a modern F1 car to have any real basis for said opinion, so is he trying to bait some F1 drivers to coming over? What can we do to get Ericsson to recruit some of his former competitors to give it a try? You and the comments below can call it whatever you want. I’ll call it creative marketing.
Ryan in West Michigan
RM: I asked Roger Penske if Detroit could move back a week to give the mechanics a break after Indy and he said no, and I imagine Texas might be amenable to a change as long as it’s not in football season, but Road America is staying right where it’s been. I think Will was simply talking about how physically demanding an IndyCar is compared to F1. And I’m sure some of Ericsson’s mates are watching his progress over here.
Q: After watching an earlier broadcast of the F1 race and then watching the Elkhart race, I think IndyCar is far more exciting than F1. The F1 race was like watching a parade for the most part. It was very dull. The Elkhart race was much more exciting even though Rossi dominated the race. There was much more action than F1.
RM: Pagenaud and Dixon passed a bunch of cars and the race from second to seventh was damn good most of the day, so it’s possible to have a runaway winner but still put on a racy show.
Q: With all of the emphasis on driver safety over the last few years, why was a yellow flag not thrown at Road America for the large pieces of asphalt on the track? If one of those had been hit by a car and thrown in a driver’s direction, someone would have had hell to pay. Lawsuits may have bankrupted the series. What does Race Control do if they don’t protect drivers?
Jim Osborn, Fishers, IN
RM: It wasn’t asphalt, it was a piece of the rumble strip and, according to the drivers, it wasn’t on the racing line anyway.
Q: Start by praising Road America for putting on another great show. Fourth year back and fourth year we’ve gone, certainly a special place for our family and IndyCar. Not to sound like a jackass, but why in the hell didn’t Race Control throw a caution for that chunk of pavement on the track? We have this huge push for the aero screen and driver safety but fail to protect the drivers now. (Think back to the banner at St. Pete). Obviously it would have changed the race, but race control shouldn’t be playing big brother like that. God forbid a driver hit that thing, popped a tired and went flying, or worse, sent that thing in the air. I don’t know, if I was racing and they pulled that crap I would be screaming on the radio. But then again I’m just a fan so what do I know.
P.S. That was an entertaining stunt you pulled with Cindric in that interview about Rossi. Had me and the old man laughing our butts off seeing him try and shake that one away!
RM: I think there are a lot of returnees at Road America because it’s the essence of road racing and a friendly environment that you can walk around (or drive if you have a golf kart) and see most of the track. It wasn’t concrete, it was a piece of the rumble strip. I ambushed T.C. but he’s always ready for me.
Q: One of the reasons why I’m a fan of IndyCar is they put on a great show on Road Courses even though Alexander Rossi’s performance put everybody to sleep. Anyway I am concerned that the race at Pocono could be the last race, and if it is there will be no IndyCar race in the northeastern part of the U.S. The next will be in Toronto, but I also feel that IndyCar can add two races in Canada, one at Mosport and the other at the Mont-Tremblant Circuit in Quebec. In 2007 the Champ Cars put on a great show, especially under wet conditions when Robert Dornbos won a thrilling race against Sebastien Bourdais. I also hope that the series add a couple races and bring the schedule to 20 races; that includes Charlotte on the Roval and the race in Mexico City since F1 will not race there after this season.
Alistair, Springfield, MO
RM: It was an entertaining race excluding Rossi’s rout. Not sure what’s going to happen to Pocono, but a lot might hinge on whether Richmond is added for 2020. I like both Canadian tracks you mentioned but who’s to say they want, or can afford, an IndyCar race? The Roval could be considered for an IndyCar/NASCAR double-header.