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.
Questions for Robin can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the high volume of questions received, we can’t always guarantee that your letter will be printed, but Robin will get to as many as he can. Published questions have been edited for clarity. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of RACER or Honda/HPD.
Q: After two laps on Friday I thought, “This is the best race all year.” After the race was completed, I thought, “This was one of the best races in a long time.” Rinus Veekay and Colton Herta were simply amazing to watch, and Josef Newgarden was solid as well.
This brings me to a point I have stressed for a while now, and that is the season finale. I have always suggested three candidates for the finale that in my mind, are better than what the series has given us in recent memory. We all know it will not be Iowa, and Gateway is succeeding where it is on the schedule. This brings up my third candidate: the IMS road course. It makes sense in many ways. It is a historic track that is where the core fan base is. I say if they insist on a second race on the Indy road course, make it the first week of October and not a support race for NASCAR. Agree?
Brian Joliet, Illinois
RM: If they could draw a big crowd and give it some atmosphere, sure, but despite the great racing over the past weekend, people do not come to IMS to watch road racing. Now, there are usually more people at the Indy GP than will be at St. Pete, but it looks good on television because it looks pretty full and you’ve got water, etc. But I’d still finish the year at Gateway because it’s got the feeling of a big event.
Q: I have never been much of a fan of the Indy road course, but I watched the Harvest GP races anyhow. Wow! What great racing. It looked like they were going after a $50 million dollar purse. Will this be an annual event?
Ron Norman, Speedway, IN
RM: It certainly was, and I always laugh at the people who clamor for IndyCar to change the track or run in the opposite direction – really? You’ve got three places to pass and then some, as was shown over the weekend. There will be two road races at IMS in 2021 – May 15 and August 14 with NASCAR. And, as Roger Penske said in the column I wrote on Monday , depending on what happens with COVID they could always go back to IMS if needed to help the schedule.
Q: What is the reasoning for IndyCar not using the Turn 1 oval for the road course like F1 used to? I really find the twisties prior to pit lane very annoying and slow. When F1 used the oval in Turn 1, it was fascinating to watch them come off the infield and scream around onto the main straightaway. I would think it would present more opportunity for drafting and passing, and high speed is what Indianapolis is all about.
Rod, West Chester, Ohio
RM: There were more passes last weekend in the IndyCar doubleheader than in all eight F1 races at IMS added together, so why would you mess with a successful layout?
Q: Did I miss something, or is IndyCar trying to set a record for lowest TV viewership? Why in the world was the first Harvest GP race held on a Friday afternoon? I imagine you’ll have to get a microscope to see the ratings.
RM: Well, let’s see. There was an eight-hour sports car race scheduled on Sunday long before the Harvest races were added to the 2020 schedule, and Friday was logical since NBC made room for Saturday’s show. You are right, Friday afternoon on USA isn’t prime time, and it’s a shame because that race was so good, but with all the sports shuffling and searching for airtime, that was the best available scenario.
Q: I was reading through the IndyCar website and the marketing department asked the fans to rate the Harvest Grand Prix. I thought Race 1 was one of the best races I have seen… some folks rated it as the worst. WTH are they looking at, and what type of racing are they looking for? Some IndyCar fans are never satisfied.
RM: Whoever said last Friday’s race was the worst obviously knows nothing about road racing, competition and history, because it was compelling from start to finish. And those critics should simply find another sport to bitch about.
Q: I’m sure this won’t be the first or last question you’re getting about the IndyCar schedule this week, but here goes. What happened to COTA and Richmond? Iowa, I had been hearing was likely gone, but I was pretty surprised to see those two off as well. And for my own selfishness in regards to Richmond, there is now no race in the mid-Atlantic or northeast. But I don’t want to harp on that, I’ll use it as an excuse to plan a long vacation.
What did you think of the Harvest GP? I would love to see them return in the fall again after watching both races. Even with Will Power leading the whole way in Race 2, I thought the action was awesome. I also think crowing the champ at Indy has a nice ring to it.
Anthony, Shrewsbury, MA
RM: I told everyone six months ago that IndyCar would not be going back to COTA and obviously they opted for NASCAR, which gives them a better chance at drawing a crowd. NASCAR pulled the plug on Richmond because I guess it was gun shy about the economics. The Harvest GP was some of the best road racing I’ve seen in 55 years, but I doubt it comes back in the fall unless it’s necessary again to round out the number of races.