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 email@example.com. 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.
Note: The Arrow McLaren SP driver news triggered a flood of letters, almost all of which unfortunately arrived too late to make this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Robin will tackle them next week.
Q: Taking away the politics (almost impossible right now), Roger Penske receiving the Medal of Freedom is huge. A great honor and big for the racing community.
RM: Yes it was, and it was sad to see some of comments about how R.P. bought this award because of his clout. This had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with The Captain’s body of work and achievements. From racing to business to revitalizing Detroit, he’s a force with a plan. But because of today’s highly-charged climate, I don’t think Team Penske even sent out a press release and that’s also sad. Happy to see IndyCar.com posted a story on Monday and RACER.com wrote one last week.
Q: The following drivers deserve quality full-time rides: O’Ward, Ferrucci, Daly, Askew and Veekay for Arrow McLaren SP, second Coyne car, Carlin’s No.31 and A.J.’s No. 4. That’s four full-time seats for five drivers, and it is entirely possible that someone I didn’t list gets one of the seats I just listed. So who gets the short straw(s)?
RM: Well I think RACER gave you the answer on Monday night with the breaking story that Pato and Oliver are bound for Arrow McLaren SP in 2020. Santino is staying with Coyne, and I think either Daly or Veekay will end up with ECR. And that leaves Carlin, which will have Max Chilton for the road races, and not sure about the other car.
Q: Dale Coyne talked about looking for engineers even before Mike Cannon left and Ganassi talked about “when somebody of Mike’s caliber becomes available.“ Seems something put Mike’s nose out of joint and he jumped before getting a new role sorted.
RM: I don’t know that Dale was looking, but Cannon wanted to get back to Indianapolis if ever possible and Trevor Green-Smith (assistant engineer for Seb) took a job with Andretti, so that’s two spots to fill. But I don’t think there were any bad feelings from either side. And DC still has Olivier Boisson to take care of Ferrucci, so he’ll be fine.
Q: Happy that Mike Cannon’s talents are being recognized with his hire at Chip Ganassi Racing as Scott Dixon’s race engineer. What I will miss is his talents of engineering rookies and ‘little guys’ for the front of the field. Always a great story.
RM: Michael has a knack for educating the kids and from A.J. Allmendinger to Ed Jones to Ferrucci, that even-keeled, pragmatic approach just seemed perfect for a rookie.
Q: Wonder the feelings Graham is having since having Taku on the team? Sato has the only wins in the last couple years, and usually out-qualifies Graham. Seems he might be a little green with envy. Any knowledge of where they think the differences lay?
RM: Not necessarily, I think they get along just fine, but Graham admitted in a recent interview that he wasn’t “at his best” every weekend in 2019 and needed to regain that form he had in 2014-17. He qualified better than he has in the past but other than Barber, Long Beach and COTA didn’t run up front.
Q: I would be shocked if James Hinchcliffe is testing on Nov. 5 with a Chevy engine and Arrow. It has been way too quiet with both parties. Any news you can share would be appreciated.
RM: I said for the past few weeks I didn’t think Hinch would be with Arrow McLaren SP in 2020, and now you know from our breaking story last Monday it’s true.
Q: Do you think Fernando Alonso will race in the Indy 500 in 2020? What is the status of Ben Hanley and DragonSpeed for next season?
Paul Fitzgerald, Indianapolis
RM: Absolutely I think we’ll see Alonso back at IMS, and hopefully a couple other places like Road America and maybe a short oval. All I know about DragonSpeed is that they are sending tubs to be updated for the aeroscreen, so obviously 2020 is in Elton Julian’s plans.
Q: Just read your article on drivers for the Foyt team. Would like to see if you could put another name forward: Dakota Dickerson. He’s won back-to-back championships in F4 (2018) and F3 (2019) and I think he’s talented and needs a look.
RM: Jeremy Shaw says he’s a pretty good peddler who is very good with sponsors and people in general, but Dakota is still a kid so let’s give him a little more time to marinate.
Q: Good job on the Foyt article. They suck by the way, and I feel bad for Larry. Conor deserves the seat and would do better than they deserve. I think the F1 kid will do well for Gil. I am super-excited about Colton! This kid is the most electric talent in years! Michael will have to keep him away from Roger! Love to see Colton, Rossi and Ferrucci in a three-car team for Andretti and send Marco to Foyt, any chance?
Dan from Lima
RM: I wish A.J. would have stuck with Conor, but he was able to show his wares with Andretti, Carlin and Arrow SPM last season so maybe it worked out if he can land a full-time job. No way Marco is leaving, and Ferrucci is staying with D.C.