Remembering Robin Miller

IMS Photo

Late to the party, and less eloquent than much of what I have read today, but please indulge me my thoughts regarding Robin Miller, Indycar’s voice in print and broadcasting. I find it ironic that during one of the best Indycar seasons in years we have lost two great voices of the sport within less than 20 days.

I knew Robin Miller for years before I met him. I may have read every story he put in the Indianapolis Star when it was a real newspaper. he covered racing, high school sports, and the pacers included. I liked his frank, forthright style. Euphemisms were for the other writers to use.

I’m not sure where Indycar would be today without Robin Miller. He helped drivers get rides in the series, he has pushed for races to get on the schedule, most recently Gateway, and his tireless touting of the series and the Indianapolis 500 have contibuted to the staus the series enjoys now.

We have lost a fierce Indycar advocate, a man who would help a struggling driver or team owner whenever and however he could, and someone who made the paddock and the media center come alive. I remember the first race for which I had media credentials at St. Pete how Miller’s charisma gave an energy to the compact crowded room. When Miller left, the stillness in the room was palpable.

I first actually met him in the IMS media center that year. I happened to be wearing one of the shirts I had purchased from one of his numerous fund raisers. We rode the elevator up to the fourth floor together.

“Nice shirt,” he said. I thanked him and introduced myself. After that he always greeted me with a smile. I felt comfortable going to him with questions which he always took time to answer. he didn’t seem to care what out let you wrote for, if you were in the media center, you were a comrade.

My best memories of Miller come from Portland. In 2018, the year the venue returned to the series, his fist comments upon entering the media center were about how little money had been spent on the place in 11 years.

The next year, I sat near him in the Portland media center as he took a call from A. J. Foyt. It was a cordial conversation about when Robin would release a story. He wouldn’t share the news with me at the time, but when it broke, I asked for a clarification and he calmly explained it to me.

Please don’t ask who will replace Robin Miller at Racer magazine. The answer is no one. Someone might take over the mailbag (I hope not), and someone might step into his reporting role. But replace? No way.

A Yard of Bricks with Two Feet of Bronze

Photo: The four 4 time winners. Chris Owens, Indycar

  • Marti Uprate. She is at Vanderbilt Hospital and saw numerous doctors today. I had to come home to take care of a problem and will be heading back tomorrow. Her length of stay is unknown, but I might still be there for the race next weekend.

Just Catching Up

It’s the little things Roger Penske thinks of that make him a success. The photo above is an example of one of those little things- getting the four four time Indianapolis 500 winners together for a group photo. There might not be many more opportunities to get this group together. A. J. Foyt, the first four time winner, had a commemorative bronze brick installed in the yard of bricks at the start/finish line. The other three will have their own bricks installed this fall.

It is a fitting tribute to these four drivers who have collectively won 15% of the 105 Indianapolis 500s. Will more of these bricks appear in the future? It will be a long time before that happens, if ever. Only two other drivers in this year’s race, Juan Pablo Montoya and Takuma Sato, have won twice. Whether either of them runs another 500 is uncertain right now.

I will be on the road during tomorrow’s Jimmie Johnson media conference tomorrow, but I will get up to date on it tomorrow night and share what I find out.

Quick Thoughts on the 105th Indianapolis 500

Just a few observations before I fall asleep while attempting to watch the replay of the race. i will have a more detailed post tomorrow.

As if I need more proof that i am old:

I have seen the fourth victory of all four four time winners. Of their 16 total victories I have seen 14 of them.

Today’s race was one of the best I have ever seen. Anywhere. Definitely one of the top three 500s I have witnessed in person.

It was strange seeing the infield empty. I sit across from the turn 2 mounds and seeing any grass at all is unusual.

Either IMS sold too many seats or people sat wherever they wanted to. I did not observe what i would call social distance seating.

Graham Rahal and Conor Daly are two drivers who never seem to catch a break at the speedway.

The track used to smile on Alexander Rossi. I wonder what he did to make her dislike him.

The crowd reaction to Daly taking the lead was great to hear.

That was an exciting, tense duel between Alex Palou and Helio Castroneves.

Will Helio return next year?

Great job by Simon Pagenaud to finish third from 22nd on the grid.

This has to one of Will Power’s most forgettable days at IMS.

Santino Ferrucci has IMS figured out.

Today was one of the best examples of the saying,, ” The race is won or lost in the pits.”15 pit penalties assessed today. It appears Indycar was very consistent in their rulings.

More tomorrow. Thank you all for following this weekend and during the first week at Indy.

It’s RACE DAY !

After two years fans get to witness the Indianapolis 500 in person on its proper date. Not everyone who wants to be here will for various reasons, but the 135,00 in attendance are thrilled to return. Let’s hope for a full house in 2022.

Today’s schedule:

Gates open 6 am

The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60s at the start of the race climbing into the upper 60s by the end of the race. It will be about 10 degrees warmer than it was on Friday. It sounds like perfect racing weather.

A late prop bet for gamblers- over/under on how many tears will be shed when Jim Cornelison sings “Back Home Again in Indiana.” My number is 3 million and I’m taking the over.

Enjoy the race.

30 Hours

In just 30 hours the green flag waves and the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 is underway. We have waited two years to see the 500 on Memorial Day weekend in person. 30 hours is a piece of cake.

The only thing on the agenda today is the drivers’ meeting at 10 am. it will be streamed on the indycar app. It feels strange not going to the track today. The IMS Museum is open, however.

There is a memorabilia show in Plainfield beginning at 9 am today. I will be there in my never ending quest to obtain the race program for every year since i was born. No thanks, I don’t need the 1911 program.

This morning I am already hearing the prerace soundtrack in my head.”‘On the Banks of the Wabash” is now playing.

Have a safe day, be careful if you are heading to the track tomorrow, and dress warm. My weather app says it will be 62 degrees at the green flag. It could be the coldest 500 since 1992. The difference is it will be warmer and sunnier tomorrow than it was on that miserable day. Tomorrow should also be about 10 degrees warmer than yesterday.

Dixon Leads Busy Carb Day After Delay

Photo of Scott Dixon by James Black, Indycar

Scott Dixon had the fastest lap in today’s rain delayed and rain shortened Carb day practice for Sunday’s 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. The session began more than two and a half hours late due to morning rain and ended about ten minutes short of the two hour time limit as more rain moved in.

Dixon parked his car for the day after 45 minutes of running. Colton Herta ended his day about 20 minutes early, Both drivers seemed very happy with their cars. Herta hopes for similar conditions on race day.

Rossi and fuel at Indy- Alexander Rossi experienced a fuel spill before the prasctice session began, delaying the start by about six minutes. Indycar assessed a five minute penalty on the 27 car. Rossi has had issues during the 500 with fueling the car, even in 2016 when he won. A longer than normal pit stop due to a fueling issue may have cost him the race in 2019,

“Let’s hope we got our fuel issues out of the way early in Indianapolis,” Rossi told NBC Sports.

From earlier:Indianapolis 500 Preview

Indianapolis 500 Preview- A Battle of Generations

Notes

Eight Chevys were in the top twelve today, including all four Penske cars. Chevys were virtually invisible during qualifications.

Personal observation- I liked the way and the seemingly easy way Herta and Graham Rahal were able to pass other cars.

Herta and Dixon exchanged the point for several laps, possibly a preview of what we might see Sunday.

The 33 drivers ran a total of 2,350 laps this afternoon.

The results:

19Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda228.323647
222Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeChevy227.1575789
32Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevy226.8568893
447Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevy226.3995370
598Marco AndrettiAndretti Herta-Haupert w/Marco & Curb-AgajanianHonda226.3966465
612Will PowerTeam PenskeChevy226.223882
73Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevy226.1922166
848Tony KanaanChip Ganassi RacingHonda225.929748
930Takuma SatoRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda225.7016594
1024Sage KaramDreyer & Reinbold RacingChevy225.5423661
115Pato O’WardArrow McLaren SPChevy225.5115793
1259Max ChiltonCarlinChevy225.3488489
1327Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda225.3244751
1414Sebastien BourdaisAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy225.1632733
1506Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda225.1611762
1686Juan Pablo MontoyaArrow McLaren SPChevy225.1493354
171JR HildebrandAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy224.9453070
1818Ed JonesDale Coyne Racing with Vasser SullivanHonda224.9101271
1915Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda224.8728100
2028Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportHonda224.7193371
2129James HinchcliffeAndretti Steinbrenner AutosportHonda224.5461992
2210Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda224.5005871
238Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda224.4686184
247Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevy224.4282061
254Dalton KellettAJ Foyt EnterprisesChevy224.0511954
2625Stefan WilsonAndretti AutosportHonda224.0477174
2745Santino FerrucciRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda223.8841177
2826Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda223.6702678
2960Jack HarveyMeyer Shank RacingHonda223.664876
3020Ed CarpenterEd Carpenter RacingChevy223.6542461
3121Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevy223.0681056
3216Simona De SilvestroParetta AutosportChevy223.0232572
3351Pietro FittipaldiDale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware RacingHonda222.1736488

Indianapolis 500 Preview- A Battle of Generations

Rarely in the 104 race history of the Indianapolis 500 have generational lines been so distinct. There are the older veterans in their 40s- Scott Dixon, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Takuma Sato- and the young drivers with three or fewer years of experience, all under age 25- Colton Herta, Rinus VeeKay, Alex Palou, and Pato O’Ward. All are talented and competitive. This combination of young drivers and older veterans should make for a great race. The veterans have numerous wins, and the rookies named already have seven total wins in a combined five ears of experience.

I still consider the Indianapolis 500 a veteran’s race. Experience counts a lot here. As we saw in 2016, however, a veteran on the pit box can coach a rookie to the victory. There are several drivers who could win this race. I have had a more difficult time picking a winner this year than I did in 2007. That year I didn’t make my pick until after the Carb Day session. Dario Franchitti mad a bold move going into turn 1, passing two cars. He instantly became my pick. befor eI share my choice, there are some other story lines to follow in what will be an historic race

The Brink of History

Many possibilities exist for an historic day Sunday. Should Scott Dixon win, he will have a double shot of records. The win will his 52nd, tying Mario Andretti for second on the all time career victory list. Dixon also will join seven other drivers as two time winners of the 500. Takuma Sato was themost recent two time winner last year.

If either Colton Herta or Rinus VeeKay win, they will become the youngest winner in 500 history, breaking a record that has stood since 1952. Troy Ruttman won that year at the age of 22 years, 80 days. On race day, Herta will be 21 years, 61 days old, VeeKay will be 20 years, 260 days old.

More potential for multiple race winners exist- Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power seek their second victory. Juan Pablo Montoya and Sato are looking for their third, and Helio Castroneves has a chance to become the fourth four time winner.

Honda vs. Chevy

Through the first three days of practice last week Chevy and Honda powered cars seemed to be evenly matched. When the engines received the added boost, Honda teams surged ahead. Only the Chevys from Ed Carpenter Racing were competitive, and two team cars were in the Fast Nine. Pato O’Ward had the next fastest Chevy in 12th place. Most puzzling was the lack of speed from Team Penske. their highest qualifier was rookie Scott McLaughlin in 17th.

With the boost taken out for the race, will Chevy cars be able to get to the front and challenge the Hondas? With limited passing deep in the pack, the Penske cars have quite a challenge ahead on Sunday.

The two engine manufacturers have been close all year. Honda holds a three point lead in the manufacturers’ standings.

Intramural Battles

Chip Ganassi Racing has four strong cars all starting in the first three rows. Dixon is on the pole, Palou starts sixth, Kanaan fifth, and Marcus Ericsson rolls off from ninth. Dixon, Palou, and Kanaan could have their own three way fight for the top spot. Dixon leads Palou by just 13 points (18 unofficially after the fast nine points) for the series championship.

Ed Carpenter Racing has Rinus VeeKay starting thoird and Ed carpenter beginning the race in fourth place. Carpenter’s only goal each year is to win the 500. Veekay, winner of the GMR Grand Prix two weeks ago, is looking to complete a may sweep. A team 1-2 finish is not out of the question. Who would win?

Andretti Autosport is in great shape. Colton Herta lines up second, Hunter-Reay seventh, and Alexander Rossi is 10th. The race could come down to a duel between Herta and Rossi, who i think has the best chance to win of anyone outside the top nine.

Others to Watch

Paretta Autosport and driver Simona DeSilvestro will have many watching their progress. The team will have an historic ove3r the wall crew consisting of four women. Paretta’s staff is about 70% women. getting in the field is quite an accomplishment for this new team.

How far can Will Power advance? He starts thirty-second, the worst qualifying spot in his career. He needs to careful at the start. I believe he can get a top twenty with some creative pit strategy.

Many are considering defending race winner Takuma Sato as a repeat winner, but he has a tough way to go from 15th. I always like to track the previous year’s winner.

My Pick

This is a challenging field to pick winner from. There is a driver I have had my eye on this season. I first took notice of him at Barber during qualifying. he is on a team capable of delivering a championship drive. While the 500 is a veteran’s track, I am going with Alex Palou. Palou is the only driver to lead laps in every race this season, and that streak stays intact Sunday.