In a move that could create more excitement — and more crashes — the IZOD IndyCar Series is taking a cue from NASCAR and going to double-file restarts on oval tracks starting this coming season.
Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star reported the news this evening and went on to say that the plan will be discussed further in tomorrow’s State of the Union address for the series in Indianapolis.
Rumblings of double-file restarts coming to IndyCar have been around for some time now. Last June, it was confirmed that Team Penske owner Roger Penske and Texas Motor Speedway president/general manager Eddie Gossage chatted with IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard about bringing in the rule (according to ESPN.com’s Terry Blount, Chip Ganassi was also part of the conference call in which Penske and Gossage lobbied for that change).
But earlier in May, IndyCar president of competition Brian Barnhart didn’t seem too thrilled with the idea, telling Cavin that such a change from the series goes “over the line of integrity” and may “start down a road of being gimmicky or hokey.” This came after Scott Dixon ran away with the win at Kansas Speedway while his pursuers had to deal with the lapped cars in front of them starting to race each other.
So what has brought about this apparent change of stance? I reckon it boils down to increasing fan interest. It’s certainly nice to know that in NASCAR, we’ll get to see the leaders go mano-a-mano with each other and not have to worry about a backmarker with no real stake in the outcome. As for IndyCar, the lapped cars will stay in their spots on the running order (unlike NASCAR, which sends all their lapped cars straight to the rear of the field).
While it’s understood that a double-file restart can ramp up the danger and cause more incidents on the track — especially those that may involve rookies being a little overeager — it could wind up being a good thing in the end. Especially if it helps attract more people to the series, whether it’s in track attendance, on TV and online. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out.
As for you guys, feel free to let your voice heard in our weekly poll. Do you endorse IndyCar’s move to double-file restarts on ovals or do you think there’s too much trouble associated with it?
UPDATE (11:42 p.m. ET): SPEED Channel’s Robin Miller adds a few more bits of information, including word that the re-start zone on ovals will be placed closer to the start/finish line and that in 2011, pit selection will be decided by the previous race’s qualifying instead of entrant points. I personally approve of this, but for those of you who are hoping that the Ganassi and Penske squads will somehow be slowed down this year, I wouldn’t hold your breath that this method will help. Their drivers took 15 of 17 poles last year, with Justin Wilson and Ed Carpenter being the lone non-”red car” combatants to swipe P1 in qualifying.