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: Something has to be done to fix the madness at Portland! Every race I’ve watched at that track (since ’96) has had problems in Turn 1. Why not eliminate the Turn 1 chicane and let them go flat out to the end of the straightaway? It works at Long Beach, why not here? True, there isn’t a runoff area at the current Turn 2 but maybe something can be done in that regard.
Jeff, Mesa, AZ
RM: That’s how IMSA use to start its races at Portland and it’s a great idea. Expecting 22 cars to go from 175 to 35 mph in a sharp, tight right-hander is dreaming — just like telling the drivers not to get carried away on the first lap.
Q: I’m not a fan of the field getting so bunched up before the green flag. As much as I like close starts/racing…I don’t like them so bunched up and wrecking a quarter of the field. Just let the leader exit the last turn and gas it.
RM: Nobody likes first-turn, first-lap crashes but look at the start of the Indy 500 in the ’50s and ’60s and see how tight everyone is packed together. Sure, they’re probably going 50 mph slower than today’s cars but the point is that the drivers had more respect for each other and likely more control. To be honest, other than Pocono and Portland, the drivers have done a pretty good job of getting through the first turns at most tracks — including cramped street courses.
Q: I HATE, HATE Turn 1 at Portland! What do they expect when they stick that kind of crap tight turn with open-wheel cars? Oh, I guess terminal speed would be too high for just going back to the old straight. But wouldn’t it give them more time to sort out? That turn sequence absolute needs to be changed or removed.
Greg Williams, Apache Junction, AZ
RM: Jeff’s suggestion in the first question is a good solution but I watched 20 F2000 cars all get through the chicane so if a bunch of kids can do it, why not some of the best?
Q: What was Ryan Hunter-Reay thinking when he blocked Rossi on the main stretch? Will this make things awkward on the Andretti Autosport team going forward? Also, how was the crowd for the weekend?
Paul Fitzgerald, Indianapolis
RM: Nah, RHR didn’t take Rossi out so no problem. The camping crowd was much larger but it looked like the spectator crowd was definitely down from a year ago.
Q: Why don’t they move the start of Portland to a different area of the track?
RM: Because you’ve got a great, wide straightaway made for an exciting start, It just makes IndyCar look bad when the “best” can’t control their cars and part of IndyCar’s heritage and allure is the flying start.