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Robin Miller’s Mailbag for September 16
Written by: Robin Miller   
Indianapolis, Ind.
 

Running with the big boys: Parsons (L) gives chase to A.J. Foyt (R) and Mario Andretti (C) in the 1976 Indy 500. (LAT Photo) ยป More Photos

Q: I went to the race at Chicagoland and saw a GREAT race. The only thing was, when I got home and watched SportsCenter not only did I find out that the guy I thought won the Formula 1 race didn’t really win, but the guy I thought won the IndyCar race, didn’t win either. As we sat commenting about the great side-by-side finish we had just seen, the number posted at the top of the scoring tower was 9. We saw Helio stop on pit road and Dixon go to Victory Lane. The stadium announcer that had been babbling all day was suddenly silent and we saw confetti erupting behind a stage. What was that? It was so cool last year when Dario won, and they had the whole celebration right there on the frontstretch for all of us to enjoy. This year it felt like officials were looking at the paid attendees thinking, “Why are you still here?” as soon as it was over. How long does it take to review a photo finish? Why couldn’t they tell us what was going on? Why didn’t they share the results and the celebration with us? Half the fun of seeing the last race of the season (last time for Chicagoland) is seeing them crown the champ. We shouldn’t have been leaving with so many questions.

Jack in Rockford, Ill.

RM: The transponder on Dixon’s car was mounted in the wrong place, so that’s why he flashed on the screen as the winner. Then the photo showed it was Castroneves. It was also confusing in victory lane for a while but I guess I thought the fans had been told, maybe not. As for not letting Dixon come out and celebrate on the frontstretch with the fans like Franchitti did a year before, I have no clue as to why that didn’t happen again.

Q: Which of the current Indy Lights drivers is most likely to be on starting grid when 2009 kicks off and how much longer do you see Tony Kanaan and Helio along with the other 30-plus year olds remaining on the grid?

Situfu Salesa

RM: As I’ve said a couple times earlier, Matos needs a sponsor to get a ride; Ganassi says he’s trying to place Lloyd with another team to get some seasoning and Howard has a contract (supposedly for five years) with Marty Roth but isn’t driving. Dario is mid-30s and I think Paul Tracy (39) showed at Edmonton that age could be overrated, although ovals aren’t nearly as demanding so I guess there’s no reason TK and Helio couldn’t run another four-five seasons. They both just re-signed so I imagine it was at least for three more years.

Q: I wanted to thank you for the great article on Johnny Parsons. He’s always been one of my favorites on and off the track; a really good shoe and a gentleman with total class.

Every year in May I looked forward to seeing him run a champ dirt car at the fairgrounds – that was the only time in recent
years I got to see him race. The rainout of the Hoosier Hundred the last two years is now particularly painful, as I’ll never see him race again.

The next time you run into him, please tell him he has a cat named after him! Yes, in my home the only way I would agree to my wife having a cat was if I could name it after a race car driver. Thus, our cat’s name is JP. And believe it or not, JP the cat has about the same calm and friendly disposition as Johnny. It’s funny how things turn out – the cat we had before JP was named AJ, and that cat would hiss at everybody. Go figure!


Jerry Frasso, Reading, Pa.

RM: J.P. was a racer to the end and he said at lunch the other day he’s having second thoughts about quitting. But he’s 64 and had a good run. He excelled at Indy and he was always tough in a midget and thrilling in a sprinter. Good with the fans and media, alike. As for A.J., he’s never been catty to my knowledge but he has thrown a few hissy fits.

Q: I attended the Grand Prix Festival this past weekend at Watkins Glen where the featured class was Formula 5000. Even my wife, an admitted non-racing aficionado, commented how much faster they looked and how much better they sounded than the IRL cars at the Glen. Here you had cars with tube chassis as well as aluminum monocoques powered by normally aspirated stock-blocks that looked and sounded great and were quick to boot. Why can’t the IRL seem to get with the program?

Bob Hendrickson, Elizabethtown, New Jersey

RM: I love those old F5000 cars, the way they looked with those fat tires and opposite lock going through the corners. Hopefully, the IRL has heard enough complaining that its new car in 2011 will incorporate the “look” of a zoomy rear-engined car and not a boat.

Q: What is the deal at Newman/Haas/Lanigan for next year? Justin Wilson, who did a great job, said that he didn’t know about next year. What is the the status of Graham Rahal and then rumors about the possibility of Sebastien Bourdais coming back. I would hate for any of the three not to be in the series next year. What do you think will happen?

Paul, Indianapolis

RM: They picked up Graham’s option for 2009 and I’m certain Justin will be re-signed as well. Seabass has had two good showings in a row so he should get to stay, but he’s not coming back here regardless of his F1 status.

Q: What’s up with Cheever calling his Grand-Am chassis a Coyote? I’m sure Foyt will no longer be building cars but couldn’t Cheever be a bit more original?

RM: You know A.J. almost punched Eddie when they were together in ’95, so this might be the opening we’ve been waiting for.




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