Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for November 4, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

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Q: Well, it looks like the 2021 grid in IndyCar is taking shape. Penske running four cars, Ganassi, three-and-a-half.  Do you know if there are plans to run another driver in Johnson’s car on the ovals? Have you heard anything else about Ferrucci or Askew?

Jim Doyle, New Jersey

RM: Absolutely, Ganassi has said since Day 1 they want an oval driver as Johnson’s teammate, and maybe that would be a nice spot for Askew. I think Santino returns to Coyne.

Q: Question for Scott Dixon – if he could only have one of the two and 2021 was his last year driving, would he take a seventh series title or a second Indianapolis 500 win? I think I know which he would take.

Jim Osborn, Fishers

RM: From the six-time IndyCar champion who is testing at Barber: “Ha ha. Both! Indy would be amazing, and so would tying A.J.”

Q: Can we spare a thought for Willy P.? The fact that he got the St. Pete pole wasn’t too surprising, but even with the pole in hand he goes out and knocks a few more tenths off his time. That’s a rare thing today where a driver gets a ‘free’ lap like that to just run fast and have fun, and it was great to watch. He had five poles from 14 starts this season, and has won pole in more than a fourth of his starts over his career. Where do you rank him all-time among IndyCar’s best qualifiers?

Kyle P. in MA

RM: Well he’s second only to Mario on the all-time list, so obviously he ranks near the top, and Will takes great pride (as he should) being able to find those extra 0.2s when it counts. Pappy Branson and Greg Weld on the dirt were masters, and Uncle Bobby was also real good at wringing the most out of a lap.

You’d have to imagine that Will’s garage is completely wallpapered with those pole award flags. Levitt/Motorsport

Q: What’s your crystal ball telling you based on Sebastien Bourdais’ performance in the No.14 at St. Pete? Should this long-time A.J. fan be optimistic about a top 10 car next season based on this one performance? Maybe the team just needed a ‘still on form’ frontrunning driver all along?

Andy R, Brighton, MI

RM: I wrote a column saying this was probably A.J.’s last chance to be near the front, and if they listen to Seb and improve their pit stops it can happen. All I know is that when I called Tex the day after St. Pete he was downright giddy, and Bourdais may force him to go to more races (smile).

Q: Hey Robin, Sato is aging like fine wine and continues to pick up a win or two per year. You think he can keep going for the long haul and retire like Mario Andretti at 53? I hope so, since I’ve been fan of his since his F1 days. Would love to see him to get championship or get few more LBGPs and Indy 500s before his time is done. Do you think Honda of Japan have a successor after he does hang the helmet in IndyCar?

Kevin, Long Beach, CA

RM: Man, that’s 10 more years and that’s a real stretch in this day and age with all the talented kids. I imagine if he can get to 47 or 48 he’d be thrilled.

Q: Did any IndyCar owners even make a run at signing Larson?

David Spear

RM: No, and Kyle doesn’t want to run IndyCars – just the Indy 500.

Q: Despite not making it to any IndyCar races for the first time since 1983, I enjoyed the coverage on NBC and the streaming service is a bargain. So thankful we had Penske to steer us through this year. I really think Johnson is going to add some vibe for next season. Do you know what European or South American country Johnson got citizenship from to convince Chip he could drive an IndyCar?

Kent, Brazil, Indiana

RM: He used Dixie’s passport and Chip thinks he’s a Kiwi. JJ will attract the national media and some new fans as long as he can be competitive. But it won’t be easy.

Q: JPM should be on a top four team! He still has it! If Helio wants a full-time ride, The Captain should give him one! They are better than a lot of the drivers in the top 20. And don’t say it’s all about sponsorship. The both could still win the Indy 500! Look at Sato. Best regards, love your platform!

Dan, Lima, Ohio

RM: I don’t disagree that both could still win Indy, but other than Al Unser, once R.P. cuts you loose from IndyCars you are done. And if they couldn’t drive for Ganassi or Andretti, why would they go anywhere else, except maybe ECR or RLL at Indy. Actually, JPM would be a good fit to run JJ’s car on the ovals.

Q: With about 15 minutes to go in Petite Le Mans, Pipo Derani and Ricky Taylor were going at it tooth and nail. PT and AJ saw how heated the racing had become and predicted it would end in tears. It did. Pipo ended up in the kitty litter and Ricky spun. After the race, Pipo decided to give Ricky a piece of his mind. Helio stepped in to defend his teammate (Ricky), which resulted in Pipo and Helio exchanging words. I’m pretty sure they weren’t passing along Christmas greetings in Portuguese. It seems the Whelen Engineering and Penske teams have genuine rivalry on their hands. At present, IndyCar doesn’t seem to have a Seabass/PT Champ Car type of rivalry. It all seems very corporate. The message is controlled (it was a racing incident, avoidable contact, blah, blah, blah). Do you think we will ever see a genuine rivalry in IndyCar again?

Jonathan and Cleide Morris, Ventura, CA

RM: Oh yeah, I think you can have good rivalries without hate (although that always makes them better). Herta vs Rossi, Herta vs O’Ward and Santino and Veekay vs the paddock all have possibilities. And I like the fact Pipo went down and confronted Taylor instead of sending a text.

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