Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller's Mailbag for January 20, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: Well I guess your ban on Marco comments has to come to an end. I read a lot of the comments in the article on RACER, and while you cannot deny everything said about his performance, it seems to me this is a good move and people don’t need to be mean. What would you do if you had the chance to drive an IndyCar; turn it down? I don’t think so. What went on behind the scenes, we will probably never know. But if this was Marco speaking from his head and heart, then it was a good move by a guy who saw the writing on the wall and took one for the team. It sure does open up a great spot for someone – any idea who is in the running? If Romain Grosjean gets his ride and a top-notch person gets this ride, we can have a season that proves to be pretty interesting.

Tom in Waco

RM: From what I’ve read and heard, the No. 98 car will be Marco’s for Indy and maybe a few other races, but I’m not sure there are plans to try anyone else. Maybe if someone comes along with money they’ll get a shot, but it’s hard to say. Most of the emails I’ve received have been positive towards him.

Q: Hey Robin, Marco stepping back to try other motorsports is good thing. It continues a long tradition of Andrettis taking on different racing disciplines. It’ll be sad not to see an Andretti in IndyCar full-time; was hoping Marco would one day regain his confidence. He was devastatingly fast in the Acura LMP2 with teammates for whom sports cars racing was their day job. Even the rain soaked Detroit GP 2019 show, you couldn’t be a chump as driver and have those Senna-like skills in the rain with slicks. He seems to have had more bad luck with race strategy then most of his teammates. Maybe few wins and a championship in something different will re-spark his fire for a return to IndyCar.

The real question is, who will be in No. 98, as Bryan Herta is adamant about having someone in car. Mario Andretti should be drafted in. He lost his two-seater gig and he can pick up few more accolades — especially keeping Dixon at bay on the all time record win list. I kid, but it would be cool to see the legend take on today’s stars. And he’s probably one of most fit of his era left alive. Bet even Scott, Will, Alex, Colton, Simon, Sebastien, Taku and others would love to take on Mario one-on-one.

Kevin, Long Beach, CA

RM: We all love Mario but I think we need to cap the current drivers at age 50 (and Mario is closing in on 81). No idea who, if anyone, might get a shot in the No. 98 but it appears they’re going to have to bring money and Oliver Askew, Santino Ferrucci and Gabby Chavez don’t appear to have any.

Q: Romain Grosjean has a reputation of being an accident looking for a place to happen. Is he paying for the ride? Who covers the cost of his wrecks? Thanks for the article on the old Indy cars. Always interesting.

Dave Thurston

RM: Oh yeah he’s paying Dale Coyne and I imagine crash damage is either figured into the overall cost or handled by DC.

Q: I’ve heard some rumblings about Penske entering a fifth car for the 500 with a “big name.” Have you heard anything of this? An IndyCar YouTuber suspects it may be for Kyle Busch. Have you heard anything? Hope your health is improving, you are a treasure to IndyCar fans.

Ryan, Dayton, OH

RM: Simona de Silvestro will be in a Penske-assisted car as part of the diversity program, so technically I guess that makes No. 5. But haven’t heard either Busch brother mentioned this year.

Is the No. 98 now in play for drivers looking for an IndyCar ride outside of the 500 this year? Barry Cantrell/Motorsport Images

Q: Are you saying a part-time Xfinity Series ride is more desirable than a full-time IndyCar ride for Santino? That both sucks and blows at the same time. God willin’ and the COVID don’t rise, I’ll see you in Portland.

David K.

RM: I have no idea how much a part-time Xfinity ride costs, but we always heard Santino’s father and sponsor gave Dale Coyne $2 million. But that was just a guess.

Q: Given the limited number of drivers in the series and the fact that they are all competitors, there must be some friction between some drivers and others who are best friends. Same may apply to team owners. Dare to give a little insight as to who gets along and who doesn’t?

Another question: Given that race payouts are rather pathetic and sponsorship can be hard to come by, do all the teams make money or should I ask, do any of the teams make money? Any idea of who does and who doesn’t?

Eric, P.E.I., Canada

RM: Doesn’t seem to be any outward animosity (like PT vs Bourdais back in the day) but I’m sure there is some disdain among certain drivers and owners. As for making money? Surely you jest. When Kmart/Texaco, Target and Marlboro were sponsors in CART’s heyday (and Honda and Toyota threw money around), Newman/Haas, Ganassi and Penske all made money, but those days are long gone.

Q: I loved your story of the ’60s. My God, I felt like I was reliving each season. How ironic that Phil Hill loses his teammate at Monza and clinched, as did my American hero Mario and the loss of Ronnie Peterson — weird. I’ve wondered for a while, how fractured is the TK and Michael Andretti relationship? We know Bryan Herta is still connected and Dan Wheldon was intending to return.

Skip Ranfone, Summerfield, FL

RM: I think TK was understandably pissed off after turning down Ganassi to stay with Andretti Green and then getting kicked to the curb, but if he holds a grudge he does a good job of disguising it.

Q: I know this will not happen anytime soon, but if IMS had to redesign the grandstands and seating on the outside of the main straightaway, how do you think they would do it? Has there ever been talk about that? So many of those seats have terrible line of sight to the track, and on the lower levels, as you look down the straight in either direction, the longer the look, the more the retaining fence is a wall. The views for the race have to be terrible, and if the Speedway were built today, I can’t imagine they would design those grandstands in the same way.

Steve Winbun, Westfield, IN

RM: I’ve not heard any talk of it, but I would imagine something of that magnitude would also include widening the front straightaway and that would be a major project. But let’s give The Captain a couple years to try and make a little money before we start tearing things up.

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