Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 24, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 24, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 24, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: Isn’t the intention of the wave-around rule just to remove the lapped cars from between the pace car and the leader? Why does IndyCar give every driver one lap down their lap back every time the leaders pit under caution? It sure seems like some real NASCAR-type entertainment B.S. contrived to keep as many cars on the lead lap as possible. If a driver goes a lap down, he should have to race his way back onto the lead lap, which is feasible if he has a fast car. (Rossi at Phoenix last year was a perfect example). There shouldn’t be any freebies in racing.

Tom, Newark, NY

RM: There are two schools of thought. It sucks for the guys who ran fast enough to lap everyone, but it’s better for the show to have 16 cars on the lead lap instead of six. It’s nothing new, and I can’t recall when this policy started, but likely the late ’80s or early ’90s. I’ve never liked it, or closing the pits, because it’s manipulating the competition, and sometimes it actually becomes an advantage to those cars because if they pit for fresher tires and more fuel for the sprint for the finish.

Q: I am tired of the rule that allows wave-around cars to pit before they go green. On the caution for Sato, only the top six were still on the lead lap, but seventh-place Rossi and 17th-place Dixon were a lap down. When the pits opened, all six lead lap cars pitted. On the next time by for the cars a lap or more down, nobody pitted. A few laps later, everyone ahead of Newgarden got the wave-around, putting them on the lead lap. Then they pitted, staying on the lead lap. In NASCAR, only one car gets the Lucky Dog. In IndyCar, the rule allowed 10 cars to get the lucky dog. (Not that any of this was ever explained on TV). 

So when they restarted, the top 17 were on the lead lap. This is totally unfair to the six who were good enough not to get lapped and had earned that buffer. Instead, the 17th-place car went on to finish second. I get that it’s about the show these days instead of racing, but lets keep it IndyCar racing, not IndyCar entertainment. I hope Jay Frye and the powers-that-be fix this rule for 2020.

Mark in Cincinnati

RM: I don’t like it either, and in the old days CART had a rule that the pass-around cars could not pit until the restart, so that was much more fair to the front-runners that had earned an advantage. For example, you’d still lose at least one lap at Iowa, and be a half lap behind at Road America when it went back to green. But when the car counts diminished that rule was eliminated. And I’m told the teams all voted to retain this rule, but that’s not to say IndyCar won’t review it.

Q: How does Dixon do it? Driving an ill-handling car most of the race and winding up second, while a very racy Ferrucci fades out of the top 10. Hats off to the reigning champ.

David, Traverse City, MI

RM: Dixie didn’t seem to know when I interviewed him right after he climbed out of the car. He had a cat-swallowed-the-canary look and a sly smile like he’d stolen second place. “I thought we probably had a top-15 car,” he said. “Just a great job by my team.” He parlayed good strategy (staying out late on the last pit stop) with a fortuitous yellow and new tires to come from nowhere. Oh yeah, and he is Scott Dixon.

To be fair, half the drivers on the grid were probably asking the same question as David from Traverse City after last weekend’s race. Image by IndyCar.

Q: I was under the impression that there is no passing before the line on restarts. Dixon very clearly passed a car before the line on the last restart but was not penalized. The announcers mentioned the restart was under review, and I thought for sure they were looking at Dixon passing before the line, then nothing. I don’t have a rulebook in front of me so maybe I’m wrong about the restart rule?

Eric Z, Lancaster, NY

RM: Passing is allowed regardless of a car’s position in relation to S/F when racing begins or resumes. In IndyCar, the leader has earned the right to start or restart the race by accelerating in the prescribed start or restart zone. Once the leader initiates acceleration (identified by live telemetry), the green flag flies and the car lights are simultaneously extinguished.

Q: What is the cloud hanging over Ferrucci’s head from his days in Europe? If I remember correctly his father caused trouble. The kid has a good personality, and is an aggressive but clean driver.

Kevin C

RM: He rammed into his F2 teammate after the race was over and then got on his cell phone on the cool-off lap and was subsequently fined, then banned, and lost his Haas F1 testing job as well. His father also was heavily criticized by the media. But since coming to IndyCar, Santino has been nothing but professional with a great personality and, obviously, a pretty damn good skill set. Is he cocky? Yeah, but he’s also respectful to his teammate and the competition, and has raced hard but clean. His dad attends all the races, but no dramatics from what I’ve seen. I think they realized they had a clean sheet of paper over here and a fresh start, and they’re making the most out of it. I know this: the kid is entertaining as hell behind the wheel and a good quote on top of it.

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