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IndyCar Laguna Seca

IndyCar drivers at odds with Race Control over restarts at Laguna Seca

The crash-filled restarts in the IndyCar Series season finale at Laguna Seca created more chaos and frustration than quality racing, which left several drivers suggesting how to do it better.

Eight cautions made up 35 of 95 laps, with three of those yellow flags coming after crashes on restarts in the final corner of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.

The restart zone was between the exit of Turn 10, along the short run toward Turn 11, which became congested when the call to go green was made, and led to desperate lunges into the braking zone. In some cases, the field stretched three-wide entering the final corner, putting many drivers on the wrong end of compromising situations.

Team Penske’s Will Power was involved in the first restart crash on lap 37, involving three other cars that also saw him receive a penalty for avoidable contact for his part in the incident.

“We've asked them [Race Control] to change it,” said Power, who charged back to finish fourth. “We've said, 'Can we just have it so you can't pass out of the last corner?' And so, I think they'll probably have a look at it.”

When asked by Motorsport.com if a restart zone on the frontstretch coming to the start/finish line would have prevented the troubled restarts, Power replied: “It would fix everything if you cannot pass until you're out of that corner.”

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Of the record 17 penalties handed out by Race Control, three were for avoidable contact due to restarts in the final corner. And that could have easily been higher.

Christian Lundgaard, who overcame opening lap puncture in the Turn 2 melee followed by a penalty to finish sixth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, believes the biggest thing missing is consistency.

“I think IndyCar needs to understand that they have a lot they need to get sorted,” Lundgaard said. “It's just a lot of stupid stuff going on out there that I don't really think they're aware of, or at least seems like they don't pay attention.

“Why every yellow has to be 10 laps, for instance. Some people get penalized for some things when other people do the exact same and doesn't get penalized. It's just super inconsistent. We saw Jack Harvey getting the penalty in Toronto, and then Alex Palou took out half the field at the next GP and didn't get anything.

“To me, it's very stupid.”

When it came to thoughts on proposing a more efficient restart procedure, Lundgaard simply stated, “Well, everything we propose to IndyCar just get refused straight away. I don't really think we have anything to say on it.”

The 22-year-old Dane wasn’t the only one to feel that way, either. Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi, who finished seventh despite two early penalties – for blocking, emergency service in a closed pit – echoed similar thoughts: “We've already voiced our ideas,” Rossi said.

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, crash

Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, crash

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Andretti Autosport-bound Marcus Ericsson finished 15th in his final race for Chip Ganassi Racing. The 33-year-old Swede was among the many to receive a penalty, but also got collected in a crash in the restart trouble spot – the third incident – that brought out the seventh yellow flag of the day on lap 68.

“It's something we should discuss maybe in the offseason,” Ericsson said. “Our series goes green and everyone is spread out in different parts of this racetrack. Some other series, they have the green flag and you can't overtake until the start/finish line. I think that would maybe make it a bit less chaotic on the restarts.

“I personally enjoy the restarts because I think it's a great opportunity to make overtakes, but we don't want it to be like today where it's just yellow, yellow. You know, yellows bring yellows.

“That's the way we've been doing it. I wouldn't criticize Race Control on that. I think we just have to have the discussion and see what we think is best for the series. That's the way to do it.”

When Scott Dixon assumed the race lead on lap 76, the ensuing restart two laps later didn’t follow the cadence of carnage brought out previously. In his case, he had spread the field more coming out of Turn 9, which limited any bottleneck effect with a clean getaway. As a result, there were no issues and no other cautions for the remainder of the contest as his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda rolled to victory by 7.3180s.

“I feel like I did a good job on the last restart,” Dixon said. “I went a lot earlier. There was no caution. Yeah, that's what the guys need to do.

“It's a fine balance. It's very difficult for Race Control to call it. There's a variance of when people hear green, whether it's a spotter – spotters are looking at the guy that's tapping the guy that waves the green flag. There's a whole sequence that goes along.”

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