If you have a question about open-wheel racing, send it to MillersMailbag@Racer.com. We can't guarantee your letter will be published, but Robin will always reply.
Q: That was one heck of a race at Fontana. Like you were saying, if you didn't enjoy that race, you don't like IndyCar. A lot was made by the local news about all the crashes but that was some of the best racing I've seen in a long time. The crowd was cheering all night long, especially when Helio was in the lead.
By the way, I haven't seen any attendance number from the weekend but there were a lot more people than last year. I think the lower temperatures helped a lot. There were more people on the Friday, too. My wife really enjoyed herself and thought the racing was exciting. Of course, she was pulling for Helio (Dancing With The Stars and all) but I just smiled and said I'm glad she had fun. She was actually talking already about going to Long Beach next April so needless to say, I was pretty stoked. The new Dallara has won over a lot of naysayers so I think next year should be another winner. I'm openly optimistic about the Indy road course. More racing is always a good thing. I think this car will showcase that track well.
Doug in Murrieta, Calif.
RM: Twenty-nine lead changes, non-stop passing and five-abreast restarts usually make for a great show and that's what we got. I could hear the crowd (even though I was wearing headsets) go wild when Helio went from 12th to first and a lot of you folks stood for most of the final 30 laps. It was priced reasonably and there were more people than 2012. Glad you've made a fan out of your wife.
Q: I just finished watching the race and it was awesome – second best of the year behind Indy. I think IndyCar needs more ovals to grow the TV numbers but I understand the financial side of it. Munoz and the Dinger are wheelmen! They were fun to watch. IndyCar needs to work on forming up better on restarts. The legend class at my local dirt track do better than these guys. I just wanted to let you know Indy cars on ovals get my heart going faster than any other racing and I watch it all.
RM: You would assume ovals always out-draw road or street courses in TV ratings but that's not been the case the past few years. There is no argument that ovals are Indy cars' legacy and most breathtaking shows but, other than Iowa (when it runs at night), it's a challenge for promoters to fill seats. I'd prefer double-file restarts on most ovals – especially Pocono and Fontana – but Indy still manages to be exciting under single file.
Q: To anyone left out there asking, “Do you want to go back to the days where only nine cars finished a race, and only five were on the lead lap?” my answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Those incredible 500 miles reminded me more of the 2000 Michigan 500 – the biggest reason I became addicted to Indy cars – than any other race. Heavy attrition, cars swinging low and high to grab clean air through the turns, drivers working multiple lines, slingshot passes and, if you had the right setup and some fresh tires, you could carve through the field even after having your visor replaced.
In my delirium, I even thought that Castroneves had a chance to get his lap back and go for it. Even if no one shows up, this series needs to be at Fontana and Michigan, and anywhere else that can produce that kind of racing. Just keep the cameras away from the stands and on the cars, bump up the speeds to “Gil de Ferran level,” and watch people fall for Indy car racing like they used to.
RM: Only having five cars finish on the lead lap is quite unusual these days (especially with 55 laps under caution) but it didn't diminish the action or drama for the championship. Fontana has always been a great venue for Indy cars to strut their stuff and they did again last Saturday night. It was edgy and unpredictable.
Q: I constantly read your Mailbag but this is my first time replying to you. How many cars actually finished the race? Seemed like maybe eight, though nothing wrong with that; reminded me of 500-milers of old where only five on the lead lap and 10 in the race altogether. One last thing: how many people attended the race Saturday night? Also planning on going to the race in St. Petersburg and this time bringing my dad.
Vinny St. Petersburg
RM: Nine cars were running at the end with ninth-place Ryan Hunter-Reay eight laps behind because of his mechanical ills. Only eight cars finished the 1988 and 1994 Michigan 500s. No official attendance given but veteran motorsports writer Louis Brewster estimated 30,000. Yes, go to St. Pete: it has a great atmosphere and the racing is often good.