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

Illustration by Paul Laguette

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

Insights & Analysis

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

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Q: I have no problem with the Indy 500 ending under yellow — a racing accident happened that was going to take forever to ensure the Pigot’s care and to clean up the mess with only three laps to go. The stewards made the right decision. Teams should be considering the risk of an unfortunately timed yellow when intentionally running second at the end of the race, just like they consider the risk of a poorly timed yellow when choosing when to pit in the middle of the race. Stop the woe-is-me attitude. The stakes are so much higher. Own the strategy at the end just like you do during the rest of the race. What say you?

Patrick Eaton, displaced Hoosier, Concord, MA

RM: I say they made the right call for all the reasons I named earlier, and I’ve got no problem at all with the Indy 500 only going 200 laps. Everyone had their chances.

Q: Why in the flat earth is what is supposed to be the greatest race in the world dependent on a network TV window? This feels like a disgrace. So it takes two hours to repair the attenuator. So what? Red flag the thing, and let the shootout play out. This is supposed to be about the fans. Really? Could have fooled me. It’s about NBC. I’m still angry 24 hours later. What is Danica paid? Unless It’s a free lunch and coach, it’s too much. She adds almost nothing and is dull as dirt. And I like her.

Mike DeQuardo, Waukesha, WI

RM: The sponsors are dependent on five hours of network television, but that decision wasn’t just about NBC. You’re a couple laps away from the end of a good race so why keep everyone around for another hour? It’s racing, that’s the best explanation, and it was fine for much of IMS history.

Q: I sure hope you got to attend the race, and thanks for your insightful article that followed. Hopefully the history lesson you provided stems the whining. Eleven races in 32 years ending under caution is an interesting stat, and yes, a one-hour delay for a three-lap shootout would’ve meant the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, and I guess 2014 and 2019 showed that the chief steward does consider a red flag. If anything, those stats show that it makes sense to have the tires and fuel strategy to be able to be in front for those last dozen or so laps and not rely on the tow and the slingshot off the last turn to make your move. No attack, no chance!

It was nice to see Hinch have a solid run even though the Andretti Armada was a bit lost for race pace, and who can’t be happy for perennial nice guy, Taku and Letterman and crew? I for one was happy to witness this race. The series has done its best in the face of a tough situation, and should be commended.

Trevor Bohay, Kamloops, BC, Canada

RM: A red flag is all about the situation, and nobody wants to stay green more than Kyle Novak and his crew or IMS but sometimes it’s just not feasible – like last Sunday. Of course you want a slam-bang finish if possible, but I never recall any complaints in 1988, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013.

Who’s going to volunteer to go back through the 2013 Mailbag looking for angry yellow flag letters? Williams/Motorsport Images

Q: Watching Indy on TV does kind of make it seem like just another race. You just don’t get any kind of feel for it. In order for it to be “Indy” you need the crowd, the noise, the vibration through the stands, the smells; just the whole vibe that goes with it and all else that goes with the weekend. How did it feel to you? Cannot wait to attend once again in person, and I will never take it for granted again.

Don Weidig, Canton, Ohio

RM: It did feel like just another race until it started, and then near the end when you were trying to work out if Sato had enough, or Dixon was waiting to make his move, or Rahal had anything for them. It was still Indy in terms of the clout it carries to win, and still pretty riveting.

Q: First off, I am very glad we got to watch a pretty decent 196-lap race. So we hosted a 500 party. Had 28 people over to have a good time. Only four of the 28 are 500 regulars. Everyone was having a lot of fun.

The alternate strategies were great. The people who do not understand strategy loved it. The lead was changing all the time. When Spencer crashed, I knew the race was over. So how did everyone react? Seventeen people could not believe the race was over and felt short-changed. Two people were ecstatic it was over (both wives whom would have only been happier if the race ended on Lap 101 so they could have left earlier). The other nine were kids that were just happy to play in the pool for three hours and not having adults yell at them. The purists will hate my group, but that ending sucked!

JR Rouse

RM: There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed about the finish, but more importantly,thanks for hosting a party and trying to make IndyCar some new fans. Hopefully the good racing will bring them back and overshadow the yellow-flag finish. Remind them it still went 500 miles and over three hours.

Q: It was fitting that at the first Indy 500 under Roger’s rule the race winners nailed the Penske/Mears strategy. Be strong all race, then spot-on at the end when the money is on the line. The decision to end under yellow was correct. No way that would have worked, even without the damage to the attenuator. Too few laps left. As you pointed out, TV was an issue. Plus, in this crazy year, a one-, maybe two-lap shootout had the potential for more carnage to a paddock that doesn’t need more expenses has to be considered – maybe it shouldn’t matter, but whatever. I have zero issues with their decision. Plus, aren’t there yellow protocols that have to be followed? Opening the pits, sorting the line up too? Taku is fully deserving of the win.

Eric Z, Lancaster, NY

RM: Good observation. It was a Mears-like drive for Sato (something he wasn’t capable of a few years ago) and he pounced at the perfect time. There are protocols with yellow and red flags like you mentioned. Both take time, which there wasn’t any more of.

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