Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for February 26, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: How good is Tim Cindric, and what exactly is his job? I’ve heard him referred to as a manager, director, engineer, and strategist at different times, and I guess beyond calling the races for Newgarden I don’t really know what his role is within Penske. And just how good is he? People have talked about him being the guy who steers the Penske ship overall, and there was a RACER article a few months ago about how damn good he is at strategy.

I gotta figure that he has some really special skill for calling a race, because he guided Newgarden to what looked like a relatively easy championship where (maybe unpopular opinion) Josef made a few too many errors that were all pretty unbecoming of a champion dominating a season (spinning on the last lap at Gateway and Mid-Ohio because of low-percentage moves, being completely anonymous for the entire month of May when his teammates were kicking ass, etc.). So who is Tim Cindric and what’s his role?

Max Camposano, Bethlehem, PA

RM: Tim is a smart guy who graduated from Rose-Hulman and his father (Carl) was a good engine man on Indy cars who worked alongside Herb Porter and Rick Long. He got snapped up by R.P. in 2000 and now runs all of Penske Racing, so he’s involved in every decision – be it IndyCar, NASCAR or IMSA. He is a good strategist and has won several races by making the right call at the perfect time. Sometimes that’s luck and sometimes it’s experience, but I know The Captain has total trust in his judgment in all areas.

Q: I was just wondering if you’ve heard anything about lifting or modifying the live TV blackout for the Indy 500 this year?

Dan Foster

RM: Not in Indianapolis. It will be shown that night on our NBC affiliate – Channel 13.

Q: I started attending races with a friend of mine in Toronto and it didn’t take us long to start following every race, (until last year with the disappointment of a TV package in Canada – don’t get me started); attending Champ Car races in Montreal and then Edmonton. Now it’s been 20 years and this summer will mark our 27th race. We’ve been fortunate enough to get to Mont Tremblant, Baltimore, Watkins Glen and last year we attended our first oval at Pocono, camping infield – American-style, as we call it. Each time, we didn’t realize that we were there for the last time, as those races were all dropped after we went.

Assuming we aren’t some kind of curse and instead are simply lucky to have made it to those tracks, we are looking at the 2020 schedule, trying to find another away race to attend in conjunction with our annual Toronto trip, with aspirations of one day being the two old men we sat with in a beer garden 20 years ago who had been to every track. Can you help us to decide? Is there a venue at risk of not returning? A contract concluding this year that may be in doubt of renewal? That would obviously sway our decision. Is there a must-see (Long Beach is high on our list already, we’re not big oval fans either) from a fan experience point of view that you would recommend?

We also tend to park the car when we arrive and aren’t really in any condition to be driving to and from the track each day, if you know what I mean – this is our vacation, after all. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Ron, Stittsville, Ontario

RM: You have to go to Road America, and lately Mid-Ohio has featured some excellent racing too, so either one. And it’s not because they’re in danger of going away, but you just need to camp out and take in a weekend of real road racing. Long Beach still has that big-time atmosphere and dawn-to-dusk action for three days. I liked Richmond when they had the right tire, and Iowa has some good racing as well. Gateway is just a great experience for the fan. But I don’t see any tracks in doubt at the moment, although I always wonder if Texas and Iowa can continue to hang in there.

As the guy entrusted with day-to-day control of all of Penske’s racing activities, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Tim Cindric is pretty good at his job. Image by Levitt/LAT

Q: Now that I am newly retired, I plan to drive to Indianapolis this year for the 500. Can’t miss Castroneves’ likely last chance. I will certainly plan to catch the Little 500 in Anderson the night before, but wonder if you can direct me to other racing that takes place in the area pre-Indy 500? I’d be down for doing a tour of sprint and midget car races in the nights leading up to the 500.

Steve, Fresno, CA

RM: USAC sprints at Terre Haute on May 20, then right back to the Action Track the next night with USAC dirt cars and a May 22 show for Silver Crown at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont. Then you go to Anderson for the Little 500 and Indy on Sunday. Enjoy.

Q: All good news coming from R.P. and IMS. One thing I wish, and think needs to be discussed during qualifying as well as during the race, is the fact that they (the stars of IndyCar) are going damn near 240mph at the end of both straights. Nobody in motorsports other than the NHRA are going that fast, especially heading to a hard left turn. If I remember correctly, average speeds is the only thing that is given. Is that accurate? And again, thank you for your knowledge and keeping the love of IndyCar alive.

Jack, Ft. Myers, FL

RM: I’m pretty sure NBC runs the telemetry during a qualifying run that shows the straightaway, cornering and trap speeds and obviously (as you point out), going into Turn 1 at 240mph is insane! But I’ll make sure to ask our booth to emphasize the speed.