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: It must have been a rough week for Taku after what happened at Pocono. It was great to see he showed the speed at Gateway and proved he’s a helluva racer one more time! Job done, Taku! Now it makes me wonder what “IndyCar fans” say about it.
Noz, Yokohama, Japan
RM: Sato is a gracious person, and one of the most likeable drivers I’ve ever encountered. He took a pretty good beating on social media after Pocono, but he seems to have a resilience like few others. I was interviewing him right before the start last Saturday night and he got a nice ovation from the Gateway crowd, so I think a lot of IndyCar fans either forgave and forgot, or simply didn’t blame him. Prior to that we were discussing the fact that before last week I’d never heard any racial slurs thrown his way in the decade he’s raced over here, and he said the same. But he was a popular Indy 500 winner, and fans always seem to enjoy his attack mode behind the wheel. So a few experts hiding behind their computer shouldn’t bother him, because they didn’t speak for the majority.
Q: I went to the Gateway IndyCar race and it was my first IndyCar race outside of the Indy 500. Great facility, and pretty good race. Seemed like it was difficult to pass the leader, as it’s been all year. I was very impressed by Ferrucci. Strategy kinda screwed him, then he overdrove Turn 1 but still managed fourth. Do you see him going to a better team next year? He deserves it.
RM: Passing was difficult, but there was plenty of it during the last 100 laps. That race usually starts out kinda boring and then comes to life. The yellow really hosed Santino, and he didn’t have a great last pit stop either. Dale Coyne says he wants to keep him, and unless Zak Brown comes calling, I imagine he’ll stay because it’s a small but mighty team that he’s fit into nicely. He and engineer Mike Cannon click.
Q: Two comments and a question: Make Gateway the final round! And the same cars from the Pocono wreck nearly wrecked again at the start! My question is this: I understand Newgarden was frustrated with Santino at the end of the race, but why not just ride to a solid fifth place and take the points?
Rob Peterson, Rochester, NY
RM: Gateway should be the season finale, but more on that next week. It looked like JoNew was just reacting to Ferrucci’s slide into the gray, so at that point what’s he supposed to do? It didn’t look like he really had time to do much except dodge a crash.
Q: I have been to over 25 Indy 500s and have lived in the St. Louis area for over 15 years. Last year I brought five friends to the Bommarito 500 and this year brought seven while upgrading our tickets. Last year’s crowd was nice, but this year’s race blew it out of the water. We have made new race fans, and plan to continue to attend – where else can you get tickets at an affordable price, tailgate all afternoon, and have a top-notch race experience (at an oval nonetheless)? Tell the folks running Gateway to keep it up! Now, how can we get Gateway as the series finale? I’d rather have 42,000 screaming fans for the finale than a couple hundred folks out in Northern California.
Eric D, St. Louis
RM: You’re a good man for spreading the word and cultivating new fans, Eric. It was the best crowd in three years, and just a good race with a great finish. I wish you would talk to the owners about what constitutes a good finale. For my money it would be an oval with a great crowd under the lights at a track that promotes the hell out IndyCar and would pack the place. But I guess the owners would rather entertain their sponsors in front of 10,000 people at a track where passing will be passé, but they dine by the ocean.
Q: Wow! What a great race! I’m ready for Gateway to be scheduled the week after the Indy 500 and as the season finale! Then, Gateway sells out and makes money, NBC gets ratings and IndyCar fans get great racing! Texas used to be twice a year, now it’s Gateway’s turn.
Bill Schemonia, Vergennes, IL
RM: I think one of Gateway’s keys is that it’s once a year and Chris Blair, John Bisci and the Bommarito Auto Group promote it year-round. Twice might really hurt it – unless it was the IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader that Jay Frye wants to make happen, and Curtis Francois and Gateway are all in favor of it.