Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for October 14, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: My suggestion is to NBC. With tire strategy becoming more and more important, I would like there to be an icon on the scoring table on screen identifying the tire a driver is currently on. It could be as simple as a black or red dot by the driver’s name. After every pit cycle, I am always searching for what tire this or that driver is on, and if a driver is off-screen or mid-pack, you have no idea what they are running. I know the commentators mention tire choice on occasion, but having this info for all drivers readily available will increase the TV viewing experience. If possible, please pass on recommendation to NBC.

Miles, California

RM: I passed it on to our producer, Terry Lingner and he liked the idea, so maybe we can incorporate it into next year’s races. Thanks Miles.

Q: Help me out with something Robin, for I am perplexed. It seems clear the Dallara/Firestone combo loves a cooler track condition, but here is my dilemma with that: racing occurs during the summer, when it’s going to be hot! How on earth does the engineering not take that into account? When these cars have it cooler they race amazingly; it’s too bad there are only two to three months (or only night races) on the schedule where the cars can gives us that.

Pat Jenkins, Columbus, OH

RM: Let me defer to the talented Cara Adams, director of race tire engineering for Bridgestone America: “Track and ambient conditions affect the performance of the car as a whole. Our compounders design compounds for a wide range of weather conditions, from 50 degrees Fahrenheit to well over 100 degrees. Compounds need to be versatile enough to work well in the whole range of conditions, but as track and ambient temperatures change, the performance of the entire system of the car (tires, aero, engine) changes.”

And with the letters about the schedule now behind us, regular photo service can resume. Firestone’s IndyCar rubber can work at wide variety of temperatures, but there’s definitely such a thing as too cold – as anyone who was at this year’s COTA pre-season test will tell you. Levitt/Motorsport Images

Q: The talk about the recent NASCAR schedule and comparing it to IndyCar with apparent complaints of NASCAR wanting to sabotage IndyCar (which I don’t believe) has got me thinking. In general, I feel it’s vital for motorsport series to cooperate and mutually benefit fans and themselves like when IndyCar and IMSA run together! It brings value and introduces fans from different ends of the sport. Obviously big headline events are one thing, but what about for other events? I’m 27 so I still love traveling for all sorts of racing events, but having more series come together like at Long Beach brings a nice serving of racing in one shot.

I hope NASCAR and IndyCar remember that the health of each can benefit the another as well, so they shouldn’t be afraid to work together on some unique and different race opportunities. Oval or road course! To be honest NASCAR and IndyCar in the same weekend at COTA would be epic. Who cares about lap times? F1 in Montreal had Porsche Cup. I went to World Touring Car Championship in Portugal and they had GT racing with historics too! Different cars with different performance won’t hurt anyone’s brand. They just give a great opportunity for people to see different and unique racing experiences. It enriches the fan base.

Derrick F.

RM: At the risk of sounding repetitious, Roger Penske knows the value of a doubleheader since he’s hosted IndyCar/IMSA for several years, and I think if there’s a way to make it happen more often, he’ll do it. I agree it gives the weekend a decided boost for the fans.

Q: Been a loyal A.J. fan since the ’60s and was very happy to see Sebastien Bourdais join the team. I know it will take time for good results to come, but was hoping for a better showing in the Indy GP. Have you had any communication with A.J. or Sebastian on what problems they ran into?

Lynn Gulch

RM: No, just the usual teething problems and trying to be competitive against full-timers after having been out of the car for seven months. I think Helio and Seb knew it would be a challenging weekend, so say the least.

Q: Now, for the most important Mailbag question. When do we get the Bacon & French Fry jousting debate back?

Bill in CA

RM: Depending on the pandemic and ongoing recovery of Marshall’s wife, possibly the test for the Rolex 24 in January. If not then, hopefully the Rolex itself.

Q: When I was down at Indy for the two races this weekend I stopped into one of the main street bars that Friday night with a friend. We started talking to the bartender who said everyone was thrilled that Penske bought the Speedway. He then went on to saying something like “when they light the Speedway.” I pursued this thought with him further, and inquired why he thought they were going to light the Speedway. He indicated to me that he thought it was going to happen since they already had a town hearing about it, at which everyone was receptive. He also mentioned a 24-hour race.

Have you heard anything about this? Did a town meeting about this really happen? I assume it’s just lights for the road course, as I don’t see them lighting the oval just for the 500 since that is the only major race run on the oval now. I also can’t see Indy being run at night, especially having to go up against the NASCAR race from Charlotte. Any thoughts or insight??

Ken E., Geneva, IL

RM: I didn’t hear anything about a board meeting, but the town of Speedway would likely have to give its OK to have a night race. I do know that Mark Miles said a few years ago it would be $20 million to light the track and there wasn’t much interest. I know R.P. wants an endurance race but you can run without lights at Sebring, so IMS doesn’t need them. And I can never imagine the Indy 500 as a night race.

Q: Regarding the new engine formulas for IndyCar, IMSA and NASCAR, has there ever been any serious discussion regarding common engines/block/components?  I don’t recall the individual quoted, but it was recently mentioned that a common formula would prove to be more appealing to manufacturers – a seemingly obvious no-brainer. Given the economic climate and the forthcoming changes to each series’ regulations, it would appear that now would be the optimum time for a common set of engine/hybrid regulations. Are the challenges associated with applying a single system to three very different cars and series too significant to overcome?

KB, Tampa Bay

RM: Another save by Pruett:I am unaware of any conversations between the three series mentioned to use the same engines. NASCAR owns IMSA, so I would look for some in-house discussions to have been held there, but as IndyCar is both a rival and not owned by the stock car series, I can’t foresee such a thing taking place.”