This year, the IZOD IndyCar Series adapted a new rule of using double-file restarts.
So far this year, it has produced some interesting race as it has caused accidents in both the season opener at St. Petersburg and this past weekend at Alabama.
“I still believe we need to try to take care of each other a little more,” Tony Kanaan said after the race. “I mean, every one of them we had a crash, so it’s not a coincidence. But every one of them we have a lot of passing too, so it’s a trade there. It’s only the second race. I would give us a chance for us to settle in and make sure that that’s going to work. Do I like it? I mean, it plays in my favor big time, but no, I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to work for it and make it. If it’s exciting for racing and for all of us, why not. We’re going to have to figure it out.
“We’re driving the cars. It’s not like we crash all the time. Well, you’re driving it. You have to take care of each other. You have to to give each other room. Things are going to happen, but I’m 50‑50 right now. I would say, yeah, it’s playing in my favor right now. If it was single file, would I have passed that many cars? I don’t think so. So we’ll try to make it work. I got told that the fans liked it, so we’ll see. We’ll see how the crowd looked at it. I’m just a driver. They tell me what I’m going to do, and I’m going to have to do it, you know.”
Looking at a lap-by-lap analysis of Alabama, you can tell see how the restarts played a big role in incidents happening throughout the day.
On lap 1, JR Hildebrand and Raphael Matos made contact causing Matos to spin.
On the lap 41 restart for the lap 37 caution, Simona de Silvestro, James Hinscliffe and EJ Viso wrecked. Helio Castroneves made it three-wide, which made things tight, causing drivers to make contact with each other.
The restart came on lap 46, which another incident then took place as Mike Conway got hooked into the wall by his teammate Danica Patrick.
The restart came on lap 50, and then six laps later, Ryan Hunter-Reay bounced off the curb into Ryan Briscoe.
The restart came on lap 62, which then on lap 63, Justin Wilson wrecked after he hit Rapael Matos, causing him to turn back into him.
The good side of it is that it has provided some solid side-by-side racing, including Kanaan passing 10 cars in four laps.
It has also helped in creating rivaleries and solid competition between drivers, as displayed by Scott Dixon and Will Power. Dixon felt that Power was breaking one of the restart rules with how he was swapping lines after crossing the start-finish line. He complained to series officials while his team owner Chip Ganassi went down to Power’s pit and threatened to wreck him if he did it again.
“Brian as usual does nothing about it,” Dixon said after the race. “So if they’re going to implement these rules and tell you in the drivers’ meeting that the person on the left has to be to the left center of the line, then enforce it. At least tell them. I spoke to Will after the race, and he said well, I never heard anything on the radio. But if you look at the restarts, I’m pretty much on the grass almost. And he’s even over the center line on the right part of the center line. I know why he’s doing it. He’s trying to get out of the dirty side. But you can’t have the best of both worlds. If you’re going to pick the inside and then run the car on the right that’s not how it should be. All in all, I don’t think it would change much, but I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
“I think that the rule is that you can be anywhere on the track after the start/finish line,” Power said. “Simple as that. That’s what I was told on the start/finish line. I was told on the radio he was upset with me for putting him almost in the grass. I would have given him more room. I didn’t realize that’s what the problem was. All he did is come up beside me and take a big weave at me. If they told me what the problem was, I would have helped him out there.”
Double-file restarts may not be a good deal on a road course as you have to turn left and right so therefore you have people crowding each other as they try to manuever the course. This is a solid rule that has been a plus for the IZOD IndyCar Series, though maybe its something that should be saved for ovals as that way you don’t have the issue of people getting crowded.