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: Enjoyed the Mailbag last week and agree with Gary in California about Helio’s comment after the race. It was almost the first thing he said when he finally got interviewed and asked about winning four: “I know P.T. has been saying things about 2002 but that was my win, P.T., all the way, it was my win.” Paul Tracy had been complementing him the whole time and never brought it up. He was actually rooting for him too. I think it was a great story for IndyCar, but was very disappointed when he said that; he could’ve been much more humble about it because we all know the P.T. was leading when that yellow came out. Maybe you can go back and watch the interviews? Keep up all the good work, we all appreciate it.
Cam in LA
RM: That tells me it’s always in the back of his mind, because he knows where P.T. was when that yellow came out in 2002. Not a very classy move when you consider how supportive P.T. had been all month, but it didn’t diminish his great run to the checker and Shank’s wonderful story.
Q: Guessing you aren’t on Instagram and that’s OK. But the comments by Helio toward P.T. might stem from Tracy’s three posts leading up to the race showing the replay of the caution light coming on, another of the pylon with his number at the top and the No. 3 below it and a third of a plaque showing him as the “real winner” with a photo of him ahead captioned as being the moment caution came out. P.T. seemed fixated on it this year.
RM: Who cares about Instagram compared to seven million TV viewers? Tracy took the high road all through the telecast and that’s what counts in my book, but thanks for the info.
Q: Seeing that you’re better gambler than I am, what do you put the odds that Helio would run more than six races this year? Given the chance, I think he’s got a good shot at making things interesting for the championship run. On another note, just heard F1 might add another race in the USA. Any chance that with Liberty Media in attendance for this year’s 500, The Captain might entertain the idea of bringing them back to Indy?
Kevin P., North Carolina
RM: Helio has five more drives with Meyer Shank to close out the 2021 season with everything but Gateway but he’s also got four commitments to Tony Stewart’s series over the next two months, so a run to his first title would be a long shot. Shank said Monday he is working on a full-time ride for Helio next season, but there are lots of moving parts. No F1 race at IMS in immediate future according to our F1 man Chris Medland’s latest story. But Penske says he’s open to it.
Q: Great win for Helio! I don’t think anyone else has ever had a victory celebration like his. Very popular win by a guy who lives and breathes this sport. I’ve always liked the phrase: “Youth and exuberance is no match for old age and treachery.” While Helio wasn’t treacherous, he did have a great sense of knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ’em. All of the four-timers were very astute about staying near the front for most of the race, staying out of trouble and keeping a little bit in hand for when they needed it. They were not car breakers and were never aggressive for the sake of being aggressive. Surely there were others who as quick and maybe even a touch quicker, but overall they weren’t quite at the level of the four-timers.
As far as everyone else is concerned, I was surprised at who finished closer to the back than the front – in particular, Herta, Dixon, Rossi, Power, Hunter-Reay and Andretti. The Andretti Autosport guys took a beating as did the Penske team, with the exception of Pagenaud. Granted, over the years I have seen this sort of thing before, but this year it just seemed more prevalent considering all of the folks who were quick in qualifying and/or Carb Day. What’s your take? Were you surprised that so many who are usually at the front were just so out to lunch?
Don Hopings, Cathedral City, CA
RM: Helio drove a lot like his mentor, Mr. Mears, and obviously has a touch at IMS. Dixon was going to be a factor before that unfortunate yellow (and maybe Rossi too), Hunter-Reay had a strong run prior to his brake issue and Herta was quick but got caught in traffic after making that extra early pit stop.