Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 16, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Ed Carpenter seems to want to land VeeKay, but Pruett and Glendenning suggest he needs to offer more than a road course and Indy ride. Does ECR have the wherewithal to run two cars full-time and add a third car for Ed on the five ovals?

Tom Hinshaw

RM: Depends on how much Jumbo Foods puts in the kitty for Rinus, but obviously that would be the best scenario for him and the team.

Q: With the surprise announcement that Marcus Erickson is moving to a third Ganassi car, and with Conor confirming that he’s no longer under consideration for the SPAM ride or a third Rahal car, what are your thoughts about him landing a ride in 2020? Other than a possible Carlin entry, it certainly doesn’t look very promising from here. Other than the obvious, lack of funding, why is he having such a tough time landing a full time gig? Thanks for all you do for the sport! Love seeing you at the tracks!

Rich Washburn, St. Louis, MO

RM: I truly thought he had a good shot with McLaren because he’d been talking with Zak Brown, but he didn’t have the budget Rahal wanted so I guess it’s either Carlin or possibly ECR. And I believe Air Force is still backing him, but not for the kind of money Marcus brought to Ganassi. After 2019, I don’t know what else he has to do to show owners he’s a racer deserving of a full-time job.

Q: It’s good to see T.K. is going to be full time with Foyt next year .Do you think that this may be his last year full-time? Maybe Indy-only for a couple more years after that? In any case, I think a heartfelt thank you is in order for T.K. at Gateway next year!

Tom Steinke, Eldridge, Iowa

RM: I don’t think T.K. and A.J. are official yet, but maybe by the end of this week. Yes, this will definitely be his final full-time season.

Q: Bourdais is awesome. Why doesn’t he race for Andretti, Penske or Ganassi?

Paul Rayner, Yorkshire, UK.

RM: Well, when he came to America for Champ Car it was with Newman/Haas, so that was as good as any of the IRL’s Big 3, and I don’t think Seb had any reason to look anywhere else. And he wasn’t wild about ovals so Champ Car was perfect.

Q: In last week’s Mailbag somebody asked about the silly season and full-timers who might have run their last race. One name I haven’t seen come up in any of the conversations about next year is Ed Jones. I read on RACER that Carpenter has said he’s looking at VeeKay, so does that put Jones on shaky ground? Where else could he go? Always surprises me that he looked so promising at Coyne and then hasn’t done very much since.

Jim, Roseville, Ca

P.S. Whoever writes the Mailbag photo captions deserves a box of donuts.

RM: Yes, Ed won’t be back with ECR but I heard his family might be ponying up enough money to get him a full-time ride. With who is the question? Maybe Trevor Carlin. Maybe a third car for Dale Coyne? As for the clever captions, that’s our editor Mark Glendenning, and his sarcastic sense of humor is on full display in some of those pictures. I’m glad you picked up on it.

Is Jones heading for his fourth team in four years? Image by IndyCar

Q: Do you have any insight, and I am sure you do, about what drivers such as Conor Daly, do in the off-season to keep the lights on and the car gassed up? I remember well Larry Dickson hanging drywall, for example. I am sure all the guys whose names aren’t Fernando Alonso have some sort of side hustle going on. Any names and occupations you can share? Great IndyCar season, and great job from you and the team from NBC.

Jan Burden, Westhampton Beach, NY

RM: I think Conor may have made enough money last season not to be a Uber driver this winter (his line), but he does speaking engagements to earn some spending money. I know in the ‘70s that Bob Grim drove a truck in the winter, Bruce Walkup got into the banking business and Mike Mosley tried selling turquoise, but I don’t think too many of today’s salaried drivers have to worry about winter jobs.

Q: Can you please provide some insight on how the various teams handle their personnel during the off-season? I’m sure the teams with deeper pockets have an easier time retaining their crew members, but what do they have them do for such a long off season? Are they paid for 12 months of the year, or do they find alternative winter jobs? They can only do so much development work, and polishing of the haulers and shop floors. Thanks again for your dedication to the Mailbag. It’s a Wednesday morning tradition.

Steve M., Danville, CA

RM: A few years ago some smaller teams laid guys off for the winter because they didn’t have the budget or anything for them to do, but I think it’s common practice now for everyone to be employed for 12 months. This year teams will have the aero screen to mount and test so that will help keep them occupied. In Ganassi’s case the IMSA team will morph into the third car for Marcus Ericsson. Thanks for your patronage.

Q: I’ve read or heard several discussions about a doubleheader with IndyCar and NASCAR. I’ve heard several challenging obstacles. Tony Stewart’s recent interview from Texas highlighted the tire difference. I’ve been a local racer for several years. Legend cars, roadsters, a focus midget, and an occasional late model. Even on nights I raced a legend in support of midgets, the track difference is noticeable. Lap times certainly are. This is on a street tire. Actual race tires are more sensitive. Different tire brands typically do not work well together for grip.

If a doubleheader were to become a reality, can Goodyear and Firestone get along? Meaning, would Goodyear and Firestone be able to use tire compounds that work together? Would they try? I know “tire wars” from yesteryear are not as prevalent. I want the doubleheader to happen because it might draw more eyes to IndyCar. Seeing a car lap a track 40 mph faster than another is sure to impress at least a few more fans. I love what you do for motor sports and for the local racing scene. Have a great day.

Scott McGinley

RM: IndyCar has raced with the Road to Indy rubber (Cooper) and NASCAR trucks (Goodyear) so I don’t think it would be any big concern running with Cup. And neither tire company is going to change compounds to try and make it more compatible.