Q: Great weekend at Road America. There are tons of questions I could ask you, but I’ll just ask two. How relieved was James Hinchcliffe that Rosenqvist passed O’Ward? I know he’s a pro, but what an uncomfortable scenario that would have been for Hinchcliffe to interview his replacement. Also, do you think RA and IndyCar took a look the spot where Daly went off? Those tire barriers definitely need a little something different after watching them grab Conor’s car. A little stronger wrap, or different material maybe?
Eric Z, Lancaster, NY
RM: I don’t think it would have bothered Hinch. He’s got nothing against Pato or Oliver, his gripe was with Sam and how he was treated. I imagine he’s still got friends at SP he was happy for, and racing is a cruel business, but he’s moved on. As for the tires and wall that Rahal hit, I’m sure IndyCar and RA will take a look at both before next year rolls around.
Q: I’m not sure if this has been covered in prior Mailbags, but how good is James Hinchcliffe in the pits as a reporter? I think he’s been outstanding. Seems extremely polished for being so new.
Brandon Stevens, CA
RM: OK, a little background. Hinch and I worked together at SPEED a few years ago and he co-hosted WIND TUNNEL with me one night. After the second commercial break one of the cameramen said: “Hey Miller, he should be the host and you should be the guest, he’s a lot smoother than you are.” I agreed, and predicted right then that when he quit driving James would be a star in television because of his personality, delivery and ease in front of a camera. I asked if I could be his valet after he made it big with NBC, but he said he’d get back to me. He was splendid over the weekend.
Q: Hinch is a natural in that broadcast role. Obviously very prepared, good insights into what the teams/drivers are experiencing, and seemingly comfortable at it. I want to see him racing again, but he seems like a good fit in broadcasting at some point in the future? Please thank NBC for giving him this opportunity. I didn’t hear much about the new cooling ducts, but I also didn’t hear much about the heat. Did the additional duct make a big difference, or was the cooler weather a bigger factor?
Tom Pate, Macomb Twp, MI
RM: I already thanked them, and I do think Hinch will be a hit in the booth whenever that time comes. The cooler weather helped more than anything from what I heard, but at least the drink bottles were moved to keep them cool.
Q: I’m having a hard time getting used to Rossi’s new livery. Has NAPA left, or have they simply reduced their support for Alexander?
PS: Please tell Hinch he’s no Robin Miller but his television debut at RA was very strong.
RM: AutoNation and NAPA are sharing sponsorship this season, and Alex always mentions them both in his interviews, You are correct, Hinch is no Robin Miller – he’s much better.
Q: I read about the guy who said he spent two hours on the phone and 97 calls to get tickets to Iowa. I spent five minutes going to their website to order my tickets, which was very easy. I am estimating that they are only selling about 20% of the grandstand seats based on what I am seeing available online. I saw an example of one section that still has the most available seats, and the pattern and spacing where there are two rows empty between each of the sold seats. They are also selling berm area seating that is 8’x 8’ for up to four people. Overall, it looks like Iowa has a pretty good plan of proper spacing. We will find out on race day.
Scott Thompson, Elkhorn, NE
RM: I’ve heard they have a good map for spacing and it will be a template, or at least a trial run, for Indianapolis. I would imagine if they had 10,000 they would be thrilled. Thanks for the info.
Q: At this point, what are the odds of Mid Ohio, Iowa, and Laguna Seca allowing spectators?
Mike Talarico, Charlotte, NC
RM: Well Iowa is allowing them this weekend, and you can buy tickets to Mid-Ohio right now at midohio.com, but not sure about Laguna Seca.
Q: With Roger pursuing Ferrari for the third engine manufacturer, which team(s) to you see switching to Ferrari? Penske owns a stake in Ilmor, the Chevy engine supplier. A second item is at Road America, Rahal had a strategy go wrong when the fueler couldn’t get the probe in. I believe this is the third time in a year that has happened. Does the fueler or the equipment need to be replaced?
Frank, Phoenix, AZ
RM: No idea which team Ferrari would go with, but I can predict it would likely be one of the Big 3 but probably not R.P. since he is the only reason Chevrolet is in IndyCar. Of course, as smooth as The Captain is, he could probably convince GM that letting him run a Ferrari was great for the overall profile of the series and talk them into letting him. Graham had the perfect strategy — he went a lap longer than Josef Newgarden and likely was going to make the undercut and keep the lead but fuel probes (if they were the problem) have been troublesome for a long time, so I would not necessarily blame the fueler.
Q: Here’s the inevitable question or two or three about the sharing of race dates with NASCAR and IndyCar: What’s the benefit for IndyCar to be the sideshow for NASCAR, if any? And how long will it be before the two sanctioning bodies decide that it’s time to make IndyCar (and yes, I know this has been talked about before) just another NASCAR division? After all, NASCAR does own IMSA, so why not sell out to NASCAR for the “betterment” of IndyCar – a more consistent schedule and access to ovals, etc. – and dominate American racing?
Jake, Los Angeles, CA
RM: Let me give you an example. Let’s say IndyCar and NASCAR Cup cars share next July 4th on the road course on NBC. It would draw more people in person and watching on television than anything I can think of, so why would that be a sideshow? Both series are struggling to get fans at ovals, so a twin bill at Richmond or Texas might also be in the cards. Would The Captain consider selling IndyCar to NASCAR? Maybe because his real interest and focus is on IMS.