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: You know, we talk about how often the IndyCar championship comes down to the last race but, given that, it's amazing how the trophy always seems to go to the most deserving driver. Nothing against Helio, but his one win shouldn't beat Dixon's four. It was thanks to IndyCar's great point structure that Dixie was able to out-drive his bad luck. If you can win, you're never out of the hunt. I started thinking (then confirmed via Google), since unification in 2008, every champion won at least one race on BOTH an oval and road course. That is somewhat surprising given the lack of road courses in '08, and the lack of ovals now. It shows how complete a driver you need to be to win the title. Given the depth of the overall field at each race, I think there are only a handful of guys I trust at all types of tracks. After this win (and watching him finish third at Milwaukee), I think Will Power is finally in this group. I like exciting championship finishes, but the No. 1 goal should always be to crown the most deserving team/driver. I love that IndyCar gets that right but still manages to have it come down to the wire.
RM: I feel the same way; it seems like the driver who wins the most races should be the champion. I always liked the old Formula 1 point system (10-6-4-3-2-1 and only paid six places) because it rewarded performance, but IndyCar's point system does have enough merit that winning races does seem to make a difference.
Q: Do you think the newly crowned champion of IndyCar, Scott Dixon, regrets his behavior that led to his probation through the remainder of the season? Did it really require IndyCar placing him on probation to get him to represent himself and IndyCar with class? After witnessing his car hit a Penske crewman, then listening to his remorseless comments after the race when he presents himself as innocent (his car hit a crewman...HELLO!) and then following it up with his aggressive driving at Baltimore with a heavy dose of disparaging comments towards anybody and everybody, especially IndyCar officials.
I find him to be just the type of driver you find at Ganassi Racing which is not exactly the person IndyCar needs representing the brand at this time or any time. His behavior and comments were not becoming of a champion and representative of a sport that deserves and needs attention, especially now. It just seems like the days when Ganassi Racing featured gentlemen racers like Juan Montoya, Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi are gone, only to be replaced by spoiled brats like Dario Franchitti and Dixon. Hopefully Dixie can spend the next year repairing his reputation.
Concerned in Austin
RM: My immediate response is that Dixon is a class act 95 percent of the time, on and off the track, and every racer in the heat of battle is entitled to express rage. He got spun out and then speared at Baltimore and I sure didn't blame him for being pissed off. Did he go too far in blasting Beaux Barfield? I think it's part of sport, an angry reaction to the media, and he was fined and apologized and Barfield moved on. Zanardi did his share of ranting at Wally Dallenbach when he was CART chief steward and JPM was no angel.
Q: The dust has settled, the reviews are posted, but I'm left with one question. How is it that such talented drivers – Seabass and Tag come immediately to mind – wrecked at the end? Is Fontana that capricious, are the cars that unstable, or are the drivers laying it all on the line, driving on a knife edge for 250 laps?
On another note, it was a sad day when SPEED TV disappeared into the ether. (RIP the original SPEED Channel!) Very glad to see you, Marshall and Adam Cooper at RACER.com. It has more racing coverage than your previous gig and has everything! They even post when qualifying is for IndyCar, something hard to find on the IndyCar site. Any chance to get a guest interview with Randy Bernard? I'm impressed with the announcing crew on NBC Sports. Hobbs, Matchett and Varsha are still the All-Stars, but Townsend, Wally and Leigh are right up there (although I still miss Paul Page.)
A prediction: it will take 10 years to get IndyCar relevant again with the mainstream media and American public. Frankly, in 10 years we'll be talking about the great racing occurring now just like we refer to the heyday of CART/Champ Car.
Curt Larson, Southfield, Mich.
RM: The downforce levels at Fontana made it tricky, according to the drivers, and when you're pushing for the lead like Seabass or Tag, sometimes you cross the limit. RACER has some great plans for 2014 and beyond. I talk to Randy a couple times a week and he's preparing for the world's biggest rodeo in Dallas this March but still watches every IndyCar race because he's a fan. The NBC booth had immediate chemistry and it shows. I hope your prediction is correct.