Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for September 25, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Thanks for your article on the Laguna Seca IndyCar race.  I enjoyed it, not as much as your videos, but it was great! Was the crowd on hand really “stout” overall? Looked to me on Gold that the grandstand was pretty empty. Maybe there are a lot of folks all around the track.

Jim Fling, Trenton (Speedway), NJ

RM: The grandstand on the front straightaway is the last place I’d want to be at Laguna Seca (even though there’s a big screen across the way so they can see everything) because there are so many better vantage points. Yes, campers, motorhomes and foot traffic was the majority of the crowd, along with five or six big suites that were packed. If there were 25,000, that’s 15,000 more than I expected and an encouraging sign after a 15-year absence.

Q: I wasn’t a big fan of double-points when it started but have become a fan. The possibility of one of four drivers possibly winning the championship in the last race made for good drama. I was happy that the series returned to Laguna Seca, but was hesitant that it wouldn’t produce a good race but it did. Tire degradation has been a factor in several good races this year; hats off to Firestone.

Ascetically, Laguna looks much better on TV than Sonoma, and the shot of the cars coming over and through the Corkscrew is awesome to see again. I was wondering how the crowd was compared to the CART years? You mentioned that the track had sold 20k + in tickets, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but you seemed to think that the track was pleased with ticket sales.

Bob Rundgren, Villa Park, IL

RM: Firestone makes those tires specifically to help the show, and obviously, it did. As for attendance, I estimated 25,000 after asking Marshall because he’s there a lot, and talked to the WeatherTech folks, and that’s a damn good turnout after such a long absence on a track that never featured good racing (until Sunday). But it didn’t compare to the CART crowds of the ‘80s and ‘90s, which topped 50,000 as I recall.

Q: Pleasantly surprised with the race on Sunday. Though there weren’t very many passes, the strategy added a lot to the race. Very cool track with great TV camera points including aerial coverage. My wish for 2020 is that Marco would hang it up except for Indy and give his ride to Conor and continue with being the co-owner.

Joe Mullins

RM: There weren’t very many passes? I wrote Monday there were more passes on Sunday than I’d seen in the previous 22 races combined (and I’ve covered all of them), so I don’t know what you watched or what you expect at the narrow road course built six decades ago. There was all kinds of overtaking from start to finish. No, there was never a pass for the lead, but good God, little Herta had somebody on his rear wing all day and fought them off – that’s good racing. Marco isn’t quitting, and this question is going to be banned like MIS and Cleveland from here on out. Thanks for watching.

And with Robin’s proclamation about Marco questions, this photo becomes a Mailbag collector’s item: Marco Andretti at Michigan. Image by Streck/LAT

Q: I live in the area of Laguna Seca and I felt like it was a pretty good race – better then I thought it was going to be. My problem was, the crowd was underwhelming. I know I wasn’t expecting something huge, but I expected better then that. Maybe I’m wrong and most people were walking around, which is what I usually do at Laguna, but there wasn’t much advertising going on around the area. There was a little, but not a lot. Who is in charge of that – the track, or IndyCar?

Kyle Winslow

RM: Did you see the IMSA race the week before? It was ghost town, and we feared it might look like that on Sunday since (as you mentioned) there was zero promotion. But it was a damn good turnout (we estimated 25,000 at RACER) and credit to the California fans from Sonoma, Fontana, Riverside and Ontario. Road course crowds are impossible to gauge and only Road America ever tells the truth, but I think IndyCar came away very happy, as did Laguna Seca management. The promoter is in charge of marketing and promotion, although NTT also helps.

Q: RHR went from last to 10th? Rosenqvist passed how many cars? Bourdais did what? There were how many passes in this race?  All of those things are facts and true, but what did I watch on TV then? I know the title fight is more important than everything else going on, but please don’t forget there are other things going on! I was happy NBC gave some time to the rookie title fight. I thought that was extremely well done. They also did an outstanding job with the pit cycles and strategy discussion relating to the title contenders and everyone in the top eight (except Ericsson º how’d he fall from sixth to 10th?), but if there was that much going on elsewhere, I’m sad I missed it. RHR said he made passes in Turns 2 thru 6. Can we get a super cut of some of those passes, because passing in Turn 4 and 6 is a bit crazy? Final question about the race. Do you think Rosenqvist got hosed, and if he had started in the top six, would he have won? My answer to both is yes.

Ryan in West Michigan

RM: I watch races from the pits and look at monitors and I saw a slew of those passes, that’s why I wrote about it, so I guess I’m wondering how you didn’t. There was one major story that had to be covered constantly, and some great secondary ones like the rookie battle and how the contenders were handling their tires. I talked to Kyle Novak on Saturday after qualifying and he agreed IndyCar would look at the rulebook in the off-season because that’s too harsh to make a mistake in one corner and be totally shut out of qualifying. I think Kyle agrees, the stewards just went by the rule. But, yes, I think Felix and Colton would have been a great battle for the win.