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: The Laguna Seca race was surprisingly entertaining. Reading your comments and remembering races I have attended, I was expecting the worst. However, there was passing, and all of the contenders were either passing, being passed, or under significant threat. With that said, I concede that the finale should be held at Gateway. This from someone who is not particularly fond of oval racing. But at Gateway, the crowd is large and anything can happen. Preaching to the choir here, but no double-points for the finale (enough drama to be had), and if the champion is crowned a week early, so be it. I’m also against double-points at Indy. Great spectacle, yes; biggest race of the year, yes; but still just a race and shouldn’t be worth more than any other.
Mark, San Diego
RM: I agree. As surprising as the race and crowd were, along with a big event atmosphere, Gateway is in the heart of IndyCar’s fan base where the finale belongs. But two things work against it – the owners love taking sponsors to Monterey, and Gateway runs at night and would have to change to be on NBC. I detest double-points for the last race and I think Jay Frye feels the same way, so we’ll see what the future holds. But I’ll admit it did make for some race-long drama last Sunday.
Q: With my son having recently moved to San Jose, this weekend afforded my wife and I the opportunity to visit and then attend the IndyCar race on Sunday. So glad we went. The track is amazing, and the race was very entertaining. Initially was concerned about the price of the tickets, but we had access to everything and sat in the stands in the middle of Turn 4. My son and I took the trip up the hill to the Corkscrew, which was a chore for this 67-year-old geezer. There definitely was an excitement within the crowd around us during and before the race. Really thought Power would catch Herta, and the same with Pagenaud and Dixon. Having attended races at Mid-Ohio, Gateway and Indy (52 races), I think I may be qualified to say hats off to the staff at Laguna Seca and IndyCar and the drivers of the NTT IndyCar series for a job well done. Also, with a little luck and planning, I hope to be back next year and bring more friends with me.
Richard from Michigantown, IN
RM: Glad to hear your Laguna debut went well. A few people said they thought it was a parade, and I just shake my head. Herta was under fire all day from the best in the series and never cracked and Rosenvquist, Power and RHR must have passed 30 cars. Pagenaud and Rossi had a fierce duel, as did Dixie and the friendly Frog. The Corkscrew is a must-see for any race fan.
Q: I don’t think you eat crow. Yeah, a few guys were able to pass, but Colton Herta led like 83 of the 90 laps. Will Power was evidently faster, but could not pass him, Simon Pagenaud was evidently faster, but could not pass Scott Dixon. So everything just locked into what it was for the last however many laps? I’ll bet there were 18 or 19 other drivers out there who didn’t think it was such a great race. The biggest thing that made me happy was Herta held on for the win. What did Rossi think? He was stuck the whole race.
RM: Most of the drivers I talked to were pleasantly surprised about how racy it was and how just about every position was contested all afternoon. Good, hard close racing with nobody crashing into each other is actually entertaining on a road course. Rossi was bummed about their tire choice, and other than his wheel-to-wheel moment with Pagenaud, it didn’t look like he did much but hold position, but I was in the pits so I didn’t see everything. But for a track built in 1957 for sports cars, I’m not sure how IndyCar could ever have a better race.
Q: I laughed out loud when I saw the headline of your article about eating crow. Honestly, I had no intention of giving you too bad of a time about your prediction. I am so very glad you were mistaken. I enjoyed nearly every minute of the race! I take back what I wrote previously about wanting to take a two-seater ride with Mario at Pocono. I want to experience the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. Heck, I would even take it in a pace car! I think I know which race will be my away one next season. It was thrilling to watch Colton not only win pole, but to see him lead nearly the entire race and fight off both Scott and Will for the win. What a future this wonderfully talented young man will have in our series. I cannot wait to watch it unfold. I would be remiss if I did not give kudos to Josef on his second championship. His genuine emotions touched me – were you surprised? I do not think we fans realize the amount of pressure these drivers are under to perform and win, nor do we fully understand just how much it truly means to them to earn a championship.
RM: I said last week that I hoped I was wrong and it turned out to be a good show, but nobody could have envisioned what transpired. JoNew tearing up kinda threw me because he didn’t show that emotion after his first title and he always seems Penske-like with his temperament. He said his fiancée was concerned because she’d never seen him cry, and I guess I’m too old school but I can’t imagine A.J. or Parnelli crying about anything. But Newgarden is a great kid and a helluva talent, and fine ambassador for IndyCar who deserved to be champion again.