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IndyCar Indy 500

Drivers divided on Indy 500 ‘dragon weave’ and pitlane entry usage

Leading IndyCar drivers are split over the so-called ‘dragon weave’ move, which can include using the pitlane entry as the racetrack, to defend their positions in the Indianapolis 500.

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

The manoeuvre first appeared in 2019, when Simon Pagenaud used the tactic to keep his rivals at bay on the way to victory for Team Penske.

In recent years, it has become more prevalent – with some drivers swerving wildly off Turn 4 and into the pitlane entrance to deter those following from using their slipstream. Josef Newgarden used the move to help him to defeat Marcus Ericsson on the final lap on Sunday.

The cars then swerve to rejoin the racetrack just ahead of the pitwall attenuator, which is viewed as one of the most dangerous areas on the legendary 2.5-mile oval. 

The moves are not against IndyCar rules, as the leading car is the instigator of the change of direction rather than making a reactionary blocking move, and there are no track-limit rules at IMS.

One driver, who did not wish to be named, told Motorsport.com: “Going down into the pitlane… You know, with the leaders, everyone has a clear view, it's fine.

“But imagine a bit further back with cars two wide and more, and someone ends up hitting that attenuator. I think that's when things start getting a bit unprofessional in a certain way.”

Sunday’s race winner Newgarden admitted after the race that he doesn’t “love” doing the move but was adamant that it is a legal and necessary move under the current rules.

“It's impossible to not use that [dragon move] because of the ease it is to follow one car,” said Newgarden. “I was about driving through pit lane. It was legal is all I'm going to say.

“They were very clear that they are not enforcing that [dotted pit entry] line, and they didn't enforce it last year. They said they're not enforcing it again, and I'm coming to the checkered flag and I'm going to do everything I can to win this race, and I had to be as aggressive as possible, because the tow effect to just the first car was even more difficult than last year.

“[Ericsson] was like super close and had a good run coming off [Turn] 4, and with that, I thought, I've got to be as aggressive as possible to not let him by.

“You were just a sitting duck if you were in the lead. Honestly, I don't love that.”

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Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Chris duMond / Motorsport Images

Runner-up Ericsson weaved at the start of the final-lap restart to keep his lead and didn’t cross the pitlane entry line, but did go across it while desperately drafting Newgarden on the dash to the line.

He said: “I don't think it was too bad. For me, it's fine to keep doing what we're doing.”

When asked by Motorsport.com for his thoughts on weaving into the pitlane entry, third-placed finisher Santino Ferrucci replied: “I’ll be perfectly honest, that’s a driver’s choice right there. I wouldn’t call a rule on it for track limits. At the end of the day, they’re risking their lives if something happens and they hit it, so that’s on them.

“I didn’t personally go down there, and I would be really nervous of putting the car down that low with that momentum if something were to happen. You’d look like an absolute moron if you wrecked at the attenuator trying to break the draft.

“But I’m not surprised they did it. You’re going to do anything to win that race.”

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