Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 11, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Has IndyCar looked at using DRS in place of Push-To-Pass? Seems like we often get to the closing laps of a competitive road/street event but one or more of the top five have already burned their PTP allotment. DRS doesn’t go away and it’s easier for the average fan in the stands to understand.

Curtis Webster

RM: I don’t think so. Part of the strategy of PTP is trying to save it to the end of the race and as long as TV can show how much is left it’s pretty self-explanatory.

Q: I’m surprised at Jay Frye’s narrow vision about standing starts. IndyCar is about diversity of tracks like ovals, street and road courses, different nationalities, engines and teams, and therefore adding standing starts creates diversity with starts. Simply discounting it to say that IndyCar is only about rolling starts is a very narrow view of where the series needs to be. Not saying rolling starts need to be completely eliminated – they should be used on ovals, however standing starts should used in road and street courses. Then an IndyCar driver will have to deal with a different type of start just like the different type of tracks he has to race on, really adding to diversity of skills enhancing IndyCar as a truly diverse racing series.

Shyam Cherupalla

RM: I’m not sure he’s anti-standing starts, but I’ll ask at Laguna Seca. They would be perfect for Long Beach and Toronto because it puts everyone on the same straightaway, and it worked fine in Champ Car at those places. But flying starts are IndyCar’s calling card, and one of the most exciting parts of the race (when drivers don’t take each other out).

Q: I’d like to know if there are any new owners in the wings? As much as IndyCar continues to need great talent behind the wheel, capable ownership keeps them there. Any rumors or speculation?

Bryan, Albuquerque, NM

RM: Other than Mike Shank hustling to become full-time and Elton Julian hoping for 10 races in 2020, haven’t heard any new names. Having a dozen full-time owners would be amazing considering how expense it is to field a car and how crummy the purses are.

The likes of DragonSpeed (pictured) and Shank are working to establish themselves among IndyCar’s new generation of teams. Image by LePage/LAT

Q: First time writer, longtime fan. What a great race at Portland. That was my first road course race, and I really enjoyed both Saturday and Sunday. As a long time NASCAR fan I can clearly see how IndyCar welcomes fan participation and allowed us to get to know our owners and drivers. My family and I got to meet and see Ganassi, Schmidt, Sato, Rossi, and Newgarden. PIR staff were very nice, food was good, and great public transit to the track. Question: I was on the Turn 1 chicane, and on the second wreck they held out the yellow for about six laps more than necessary in my opinion. From our vantage point the track was ready and all cars back on the pace and ready to go. Any insight is appreciated. Keep up the great work!

Jed Blake

RM: From Race Director Kyle Novak:

“Thank you for visiting Portland and taking in the IndyCar experience. As I have written before for the Mailbag, every yellow presents a unique challenge in Race Control. In other words, no two yellows are the same. While the incident scene may have been clear in front of your grandstand seat, we still had safety equipment and personnel rotating and resetting their positions due to the unprecedented nature of that incident, hence the perceived extra laps. Additionally, the shortcut opportunity available at the chicane lead to extra steps in our reorder procedure prior to opening the pits and advancing to our restart procedures. I encourage you to check out our fan club at where our members have the opportunity to visit race control and receive a behind the scenes look at all of the technology used to operate an IndyCar race.” 

Q: I noticed during the Portland Indy Car race that the LED digital position panels were not on the sides of the cars. So then I started to think about the last time I noticed them on the cars this season. I soon realized they have been gone for a few races now. What happened to them and when was the last time they used them this year?

Scott, Stafford, NY

RM: They were unreliable, so they’ve been parked indefinitely. I think June was the last time.

Q: OK Robin, since it is Indy, how many people were at the Brickyard 400? On TV it looked horrible, my TV watching guess was 5,000. Seriously, how long does that race remain on the NASCAR schedule? Also those cars look so slow at Indy, how can anyone watch it for hours on TV?

Sad to see Indy’s season coming to a close, still think it should end on an oval, which I know is tough to find, but I’ve noticed street courses aren’t any more prolific on the schedule and I don’t see any new cities on the horizon.

Mark F.

RM: Just looking at the overhead shots I’d guess 25,000, but I heard one of local radio experts say 65,000. Really? There are less than 200,000 seats at IMS and for there to be 60,000 there would have had to be a body in every third seat. And at least eight grandstands were closed to the public. The Brickyard pays IMS $20 million in TV money ($15m for Cup and $5m for Xfinity) so I imagine there will be stock cars at Indianapolis until the TV deal expires, and then all bets are off. We both agree it should end on an oval, and I think Jay Frye is going to try and make that a reality.