Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 31, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 31, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for July 31, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: I will agree that the overall production of IndyCar race weekends by NBC outpaces that of ABC in detail, but as I tuned in for Mid-Ohio to see the cars already on track with no pre-race coverage reminded me of the “good ol’ days” and was disappointing. Couple that with watching the Formula 1 race without commercial breaks, and that makes me long for a subscription service for IndyCar. Is this even a possibility?

NBC Gold coverage has been incredible and I wish that what I watch during practices and quali would be the same on race day. I understand that sponsorship is vital to the sport’s budget, and in turn, this sponsorship comes with the need for exposure to the marketplace, but I am all in to pay for a complete broadcast without interruption. Any chance this will happen?

Tom Anderson, Mesa, AZ

RM: I imagine there could be some kind of NFL Red Zone channel some day for IndyCar on NBCSN or the internet, but right now network television is still king. We all like having a pre-race show to set the stage, but last Sunday was a rarity.

Q: I have a question about TV ratings. I DVR all the races on DirecTV. I also try to watch the races live. How do the TV ratings get counted? If I can’t watch the race live, I leave my television on to the channel that the race will be on (NBC or NBCSN) in the hopes that my TV will help the ratings of the race. Does taping something on my DVR get counted in the race ratings?  If I can’t watch the race live, does it help to leave my TV on while I’m not home?  Does having multiple TVs on in my house help the ratings?  If it does, I’ll turn all three of my televisions on to the race!

Rick Govert, Hobart, IN

RM: A response from the NBC home office: “A viewer would have to be a “Nielsen home” (there’s a sample, so it’s not every TV home that’s reported) to be counted. If he were a Nielsen home, I’m not certain exactly how his scenario would work out (although we’re glad he’s so interested in watching our IndyCar coverage on multiple TVs!).”

Q: Last I heard was, IndyCar has a batch of (Chevy and Honda) engines that are assigned at random to IndyCar teams (from an IndyCar-controlled pool, for parity) when they need a replacement engine. Now you say Ilmor provides special engines for The Captain (Penske). Isn’t such favorite treatment a violation of the rulebook? Kindly explain.

Bill in CA

RM: That was my obviously failed attempt at sarcasm. When Ilmor’s Paul Ray says he’s got a bone to pick with me, I knew I better explain. But since I did such a poor job last week, let’s let Chevrolet Racing Program Manager Rob Buckner clarify:

“There are numerous ways that Chevrolet ensures that each of our race teams have equal-performing engines, many of them internal but some also regulated by IndyCar. When we build an engine, we have no idea what car it will be assigned to. Finished engines go into the “engine pool” and when a Chevrolet-powered car needs a new engine for any reason, IndyCar selects an engine from the pool and assigns it to an entry. Variation in engine performance is very controlled these days — we are well beyond the days of hand porting. Every engine is as identical as we can make them — across the fleet at any given time is very equal. In addition, our Chevrolet engine engineers all work very closely together and are able to overlay and compare data. The calibrations that control fueling, ignition, boost, etc., are very precise and that is to protect our reliability.

We do all we can to lift the performance of each Chevrolet-powered organization, and will continue to push for improvement.”

“I think I might have accidentally given one of the special Penske engines to Spencer Pigot.” (Note, in case it’s still not clear – we’re kidding). Image by Levitt/LAT.

Q: With all due respect to Leigh Diffey, Kevin Lee was awesome in the booth for Mid-Ohio and needs to stay there. Period!

Chris Fields, Indianapolis

RM: I thought it was Kevin’s best play-by-play effort to date, and he’s been doing IMSA races as well to hone his craft. But Diff is one of NBC’s lead announcers all year round and he loves IndyCar, so I guess the best way to put it is that we’ve got a very capable backup quarterback.

Q: There have been plenty of times this season that I haven’t been happy with IndyCar Race Control. I haven’t written in about them, because I don’t want to be the typical Mailbag/RACER commenter bitcher. At Mid-Ohio Kyle Novak deserved a big shout-out for letting the race finish under green after JoNew took himself out. What a great finish! It was too bad the network TV window was so tight, but what a great race to have on national TV. I’m a happy IndyCar fan!

Dylan Burgett, Villa Park, IL

RM: I think Kyle does everything possible not to throw a FCY if it can be avoided, and it’s given IndyCar more racing this season. I think the drivers and fans appreciate it – I know the purists do.

Q: Just noted in your comments this week that Karam and Daly will run the remaining ovals for Carlin. I thought the plan for 2019 on the No. 31 car was Kimball for most ovals and Pato on road and street courses. Does this mean Charlie may be out of the ride? Also, we stayed for the race at Iowa. We were camping, so basically were already committed. One comment is how crazy the last two restarts were in the back half of the field. I thought for sure something was going to happen both times heading into Turn 3. Kudos to some great driving and mutual respect among those guys.

Don Weidig

RM: I thought I said Daly in the No. 59 for Pocono and Gateway. Carlin liked Sage’s feedback and he was hoping he got another shot, but the understanding is that it’s Charlie’s car for those two races.