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

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Q: Great racing at Laguna today in my opinion, and a well-deserved championship for JoNew and the Captain and of course an incredible run by Colton Herta. Reflecting on the end of the 2019 season, my biggest surprise was, who would have ever though we would conclude the 2019 season with Bourdais, Hunter-Reay, Rahal, and Hinch all going winless? Additionally, who would have ever thought TK and the ever-struggling Foyt team would finish ahead of two Andretti cars and one SPM in the championship? It just goes to show how tough a championship that IndyCar has become. As always thanks to you, Marshall, and the entire RACER staff for outstanding coverage this year!

Steve P, Virginia Beach, VA

RM: I think that trio being winless (along with Rahal) was as surprising as Santino Ferrucci’s excellent rookie year, little Hertamania winning twice with three poles and Sato scoring two victories. But it’s becoming a young man’s game isn’t it? Except for Dixie, Power and Taku. Thanks for reading RACER.com and RACER.

Q: My question is about the schedule. I feel like the season is so short. Just like that, it’s over. F1 has six races left, Cup has 10, and even IMSA has one more. While I agree with the idea that we do not want our beloved series to go up against the NFL, I wonder why we don’t start sooner if we are going to end earlier. I think more races would be nice, but I understand your concerns with that. However if they were spread out a little better, would that not help crew members and personnel? Even if they couldn’t get more races, starting earlier could be a good thing for them.

Why not start the week after the Daytona 24? Assuming it would be in St Pete, many of the drivers are already there. And since so many drivers race in the 24 hour race, you could use that to hype up the IndyCar opener. Commercials during the 24 hour race for St Pete, cross-promotion, etc. That feels like a great way to kick off support for IndyCar from another series. There has got to be some benefit to starting before all the other series outside of IMSA, too.

Erik Steinbrecher, Oswego, IL

RM: Six months off is way too long, no question, and I know IndyCar would like to start earlier if possible, but St. Pete likes being the opener and its March date, and to be honest there are not a lot of options in January or February. The IndyCar schedule is compressed because Mark Miles does not want to go up against football, and the promoters have their reasons for their dates. The only benefit would be to find a venue that could draw a decent crowd in January or February because it might help the TV ratings. Daytona has no competition the day it runs.

Q: I know people are piling on Foyt Racing, but the fact is Tony Kanaan beat two Andretti cars in Veach and Marco in the standings, as well as Ericsson, who admittedly had one less race. It could have been much worse this year.

Russ in Indianapolis

RM: Oh gosh, I’m not sure about that, Russ. One podium at Gateway for T.K., and they weren’t competitive in May, and they’ve already let a couple key people go but they need some direction. Talked to A.J. last week and he’s still running two cars.

At least one reader managed to find a silver lining in TK’s season. Image by Cantrall/LAT

Q: It’s well known you’re a big fan and promoter of Conor Daly. What happened to him in Laguna Seca? He hardly shone. Nor did the entire Andretti team, for that matter, apart from Herta? Daly went virtually unseen until teammate Marco took him out. And speaking of Marco, his qualifying and race were abysmal. As usual. With Colton Herta added to the team next year, Marco will become fifth man on a five-man team, and he finished this season doing nothing while a teenage rookie in related team lead all the way to win. How long can he, or anyone, tolerate this?

Bosco McNabb, Toronto, Canada

RM: Conor was in the first qualifying group Saturday and it was loaded, and he wound up just missing transferring to the second round. Other than posting the fourth-fastest lap of the race, Sunday was pretty forgettable, but let’s talk about how he ran at Indy, then how he did for Carlin and Arrow SPM. I think he proved his worth this season, and one race certainly doesn’t define that. Marco co-owns his team and shows no inclination to stop racing.

Q: Well Miller, we’ve reached the close of another season. 2019 has been a pretty solid year for IndyCar, but it also means that we’re a decade removed from American open-wheel unification. What has surprised you the most in both a positive and negative sense over where IndyCar was in 2009 to where it stands today?

Mitch from Michigan

RM: I’m impressed with the level of talent and depth of the teams and the good racing. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the Dallara races on street and road courses. And I like the fact Jay Frye has a plan. The most negative thing remains the purses – Indianapolis and IndyCar. They should never be published. It’s embarrassing and shows no signs of ever improving. But I think IndyCar has made a nice comeback from those dog days of 2000-2008, and even though it remains a well-kept secret, there’s no better racing.

Q: So, if Pagenaud were to do the unthinkable and head out to SPAM after 2020, who would The Captain choose to replace him? Rossi? Herta? Rahal? Helio? Please, Robin, inquiring minds want to know!

Nick in the Quad

RM: The Captain met the press Sunday at Laguna after claiming his 16th IndyCar title, and as he was walking away I whispered to him: “I decided not to ask you when you were going to sign Colton.” He just smiled. But Michael will have to fend him off to keep the kid.

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