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.
Q: As a huge Kyle Larson fan (he reminds me so much of my man Smoke), I am extremely disappointed in his actions during the iRacing event. What he said was inexcusable, and I was surprised it took CGR so long to fire him. With that being said, in the past motorsports have been pretty forgiving when it comes to drivers who have done something stupid and/or harmful, especially if they are as talented as Kyle. A lot of people believe that Chip talked him into going to NASCAR (I’m sure the money played a big part) when he really should have went to IndyCar. What do you think the chances are that Tony starts an IndyCar team, hires Larson and (I’m a Bowtie guy so I can’t believe I’m saying this) brings Ford back into the fold as a third engine supplier?
Troy Keag, Fountain, CO
RM: Tony and I watched Kyle sweep the USAC 4-Crown event at Eldora back in 2011, and I told Smoke he should sign him right then and there because all he wanted to was drive WoO or NASCAR. Stewart said he didn’t have any seats open at that time, but when I saw him at the Chili Bowl he rued not signing the kid and then worrying about where to put him. I think it’s very possible they could hook up, but probably in NASCAR and maybe then the Indy 500 some day. But I give Chip big props for hiring him and then giving him the freedom to dirt race to keep him happy, and I know both are pretty devastated with how it all ended. Ford could be a player in IndyCar because of R.P., so we’ll see.
Q: Imagine you’re Kyle Larson. Which is worse? Public scorn, loss of income or telling the Chipster that you screwed up his sponsorship from McDonald’s?
RM: I talked to Kyle last week and I think his Mom was his toughest critic, but obviously he felt horrible about letting Chip, the team, Chevy and McDonald’s down and forcing their hand. But McDonald’s is still going to be with Ganassi if we ever start racing again.
Q: While it’s true Fernando Alonso shot himself in the foot with his statements about Honda and that the Japanese executives are never going to let him drive a Honda again, considering how big a mistake Kyle Larson made for dropping the N-bomb for the whole world to hear… this is far worse than anything Fernando could’ve said. Which makes me wonder what the Japanese Honda executives would have to say about Larson’s extremely offensive statement compared to Fernando’s? Even if it doesn’t make them see Fernando in a new light, would they reconsider vetoing the Alonso/Andretti deal?
Aaron, Media, PA
RM: I don’t think the Honda of Japan execs care what happened in NASCAR with Larson. It’s not going to change their feelings about Alonso.
Q: Kyle Larson was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing and suspended by NASCAR because of a racial slur that he said during an iRacing event, Has anybody in the IndyCar Series ever used a racial slur and got kicked out of IndyCar Series and terminated by their teams?
Chris Fiegler, Latham, NY
RM: Not to my knowledge. I recall a couple drivers losing sponsorships for disparaging comments about a product or a certain part of the country, but never losing a ride because of a slur or cuss word.
Q: If there is a short season, who do you think would be a title favorite, since potentially one DNF or poor finish could be fatal to championship hopes, or for that matter, a top 10 points placement?
RM: Be tough to bet against Team Penske, Andretti and Ganassi – strength in numbers.
Q: Hoping you are coping well with reality of “house arrest” we all face these days. What are your personal odds that everything kicks off on time with respect to the revised schedule that IndyCar recently announced?
Dale, Chesterfield, VA
RM: Got no clue, because we have to wait and see if spectators will be allowed. Texas Eddie Gossage already said he wouldn’t host an IndyCar race without fans, and Road America is contingent on paying customers – like everyone else in IndyCar. So even if the government decides to allow events, the key will be if people are allowed to attend.
Q: How come Indy does not offer pit/garage/paddock passes for the Indy GP or even single day passes for the month of May? I know there is the Bronze Badge, but is Roger thinking about possibility offering single day or Indy GP day pit/garage/paddock passes that can be reasonable priced? I understand why these passes are not available for Indy 500 race day, with the huge crowds and all. Any chance the Harvest GP in October will have a pit/paddock/pass at reasonable pricing like most other tracks offer?
Andy, St. Mary’s, Ohio
RM: From IMS President Doug Boles: “For credentials, we have continued to provide garage and pit access through our historical Bronze and Silver Badge program. If a customer purchases a bronze badge, for $135, it is cheaper than the gate admission would cost for all practice/quali days and the customer receives garage access. And, in past years since the inception of the GMR Grand Prix, we have given Bronze Badge holders pit access (treated like a Silver Badge) on the Monday practice following qualifying to make the experience that much more valuable. So, I do not see a change for May (or GMR/I500) as it relates to the offerings. With respect to the Harvest GP, we are exploring more credential options, including single day access, and will have more information related to that in the coming weeks.”