Robin Miller’s Mailbag for June 9, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Robin Miller’s Mailbag for June 9, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Insights & Analysis

Robin Miller’s Mailbag for June 9, presented by Honda Racing / HPD


Q: In last week’s Mailbag, you said Rossi was “at the end of his rope” with Andretti and that Penske might be a possible option for him. I’ve been pondering that, and have a few questions. Why does Rossi want to leave Andretti? Do you think Rossi needs to leave? Does R.P. want to fire any of his current drivers? Rossi’s driven for him in sports cars, but will Rossi fit into the IndyCar team? If R.P. doesn’t want to run four cars and Rossi becomes available, will he regret re-signing Power (assuming Pagenaud is released)? What would you do if you were Rossi and R.P.?

Jordan, Warwickshire, UK

RM: I said I’d heard from inside the shop he was less than pleased with Rob Edwards and engineer Jeremy Milless but I speculated there didn’t seem to be anywhere to go because I couldn’t see R.P. running a fourth car again. But it’s way too early to say what that Penske line-up will look like for sure next year.

Q: Man, the Indy 500 never disappoints. (Not lately, at least)! It’s incredible that there were no mechanical breakdowns. Was that the fewest cautions ever? While the lack of cautions led to a lot of single-file racing, there were way more passes than I expected, and the finish was as good as it gets! It was a great day. Will Karam or Ferrucci’s stock rise after this? Impressed with their results and would love for them to be series regulars. I know it’s an uphill climb, but they deserve it.

John Liebengood

RM: Fewest cautions and fastest race ever, with no crashes due to driver error and a great example of hard, fast racing. I think Dennis Reinbold would love to run Sage in a full-time deal, but Santino is getting another shot with RLL this weekend.

Q: During the 500 telecast, I heard one of the announcers say that before this year Castroneves didn’t always drive for Penske, that he got his start with Hogan Racing. He actually got his start with (Tony) Bettenhausen Racing. I don’t know if Helio ever mentions this in his interviews, but if not, he or someone should acknowledge Tony for giving him his start in Indy cars.

Jim, Ontario, Canada

RM: Good call, I think there was a shootout for that seat (or maybe that’s how Patrick Carpentier replaced Helio) but Tony helped launch both their CART careers.

His surname was yet to be streamlined and there was still some downforce to be taken out of the hairstyle, but Castroneves’ driving talent was on show during his rookie Champ Car season with Bettenhausen in 1998. Motorsport Images

Q: What was the reason that the first yellow flag in the Indy 500 lasted 14 laps for a spin in the pits? As great as the race was, and I get that its important to get the scoring right, it seemed like USAC was back in charge for a short time. Frustrating, and yeah, it really didn’t affect the end of the race, it just looked bad. Great race, and loved it for Helio, but was extremely happy for The Captain as well.

David McGriff

RM: We were told it was to get the field properly aligned after Stef’s spin into the pit wall and it did seem to take forever, but most cautions follow that trend by closing and opening the pits, and guys were running out of fuel as well.

Q: In your honest opinion, are you optimistic about the future of IndyCar? I watched Zak Brown interview Roger, and my jaw dropped when he indicated that he wanted to add more ovals. He sounds like Tony George lite. The reality is the championship is an afterthought minus the Indy 500. Max Chilton is willing to put aside his fear of oval racing because of the prestige of the Indy 500. I think most of the people who attend the Indy 500 do it because it is a Memorial Day tradition.

I understand oval racing is part of IndyCar’s heritage, but the danger increases above short ovals, and NASCAR has a monopoly on that niche of racing. Most, if not all, the drivers come from road racing backgrounds, and they wouldn’t hesitate if offered a decent F1 seat. If they’re just biding their time, is it reasonable to provide them with more road courses to hone their skills so that they don’t embarrass IndyCar if they do get that opportunity?

The uptick in foreign drivers considering IndyCar is due to the logjam in F1. F1 can relegate IndyCar to a couple of exhibition races every year if it wanted to. F1 is heading in the right direction by addressing the aerodynamics and skyrocketing budgets. Imagine if it poached O’Ward, Palou, VeeKay and Herta?

B Fontanilla

RM: Much more optimistic than I was five years ago when the car count seemed to be in jeopardy, and I’d feel real good if the purses were raised to proper standards. But all this hand-wringing about losing our young stars to F1 is absurd. F1 has a pecking order and it doesn’t include IndyCar drivers, and why would any of those kids you mentioned leave winning programs to run for 15th place?

Q: Any chance that Tony Stewart will invest in an IndyCar team either alone or as a partner with someone like A.J. Foyt? With A.J.’s team falling behind a bit, you would think that adding someone like Tony would be a boost – if there is any interest? The two at the 500 this year has piqued my interest in the possibility.

Andy, Fishers, IN

RM: I think Stew might field an IndyCar some day and A.J. would be his logical choice as a partner so he wouldn’t have to buy new equipment, but not sure he’s got the time right now with his new series and all his investments.

Q: Just got back from my 15th pilgrimage with my father to the World Capital of Racing. After taking a year off due to the pandemic, I really couldn’t find much to complain about, even after pitching a tent in 44-degree weather. As usual, we attended three different race programs at IRP, Anderson, and Indy. Along with many other open-wheel fans, I can find no good explanation as to why Kody Swanson is not hooked up with a big-name Indy ride. He dominated the Silver Crown and midget race at IRP then had another strong showing with a second at the Little 500. Just like many IndyCar legends, he has been a dominate force in USAC. With the reduction of ovals, will we see even fewer sprint car guys get their shot in IndyCar? I look forward to making another trip next year, and I’m hoping IMS brings back their traditional staple of serving those delicious bratwursts in concessions.

John Graham in Tennessee

RM: Nobody in the IndyCar paddock knows anything about Kody Swanson except maybe Ed Carpenter, and he did a nice job in his Indy ladder debut at IRP and Gateway but it’s going to take big money if he ever gets to Indy. The late, great Bryan Clauson only got to IMS because of Randy Bernard and David Byrd, and all of today’s USAC stars understand Indy is a dead end for them.