Every race has a pivotal moment and the IndyCar season opener was no different as a lot of people have been talking about the lap 82 restart. Will Power brought the field down and it appeared he slowed, which caused the whole field to accordion. As a result contact was made in the second half of the field, ending the race for both Marco Andretti and Jack Hawksworth.
So who is to blame for this restart?
“Yeah it’s hard to see because I was pretty far back, but Will just stopped,” Andretti commented. “Once you go, you gotta go. It was a bit of an accordion effect, and I just got caught up. That’s what happens when you’re in the back, so I’ve really got no one to blame but myself.”
“I don’t know what the leader was doing,” Hawksworth said. “Everybody went and then they all stopped and somebody hit me.”
Some people were quick to blame Will Power as he is the leader and controls the restart so that seems like the natural thing to do.
“I lifted a little but I didn’t touch the brake at all,” Power commented. “They can check my data. I did not brake-check or touch the brakes at all.”
Hunter-Reay was asked about Power possibly lifting, and the 2012 champion said a lift in first gear is very strong.
“It’s almost like hitting the brakes,” Hunter-Reay commented. “He certainly stacked up Helio on the first one, that’s why I got a big run on Helio and passed Helio. The next one he just went. The next one was OK.”
Castroneves noticed Power’s way of restarting at that point, being second at hte time, and called it a “trick” and says that tricks aren’t a bad thing as they’re part of battling for the win.
“He knew where I was going, so he did something that I was not expecting and it caught me a surprise,” Castroneves added. “That does not take away anything from the win he did today. Cindric and himself did a very good strategy with the tires, better tires in the end.”
Possible lift, brake and Power’s own intentions aside, some people commented that perhaps Power brought the field down a little too slow and that caused the issues with people in the second half of the field speeding up to catch up to the tail of the speed.
“In my opinion, the leader shouldn’t brake check or stop and then go,” Hunter-Reay commented. “I didn’t see that being very intentional from Will that way. What I saw it was he kind of set his own pace at that time. It’s up for argument that maybe that was too slow. Definitely could have been too slow. It was very slow. But I feel like the leader should accelerate when he needs to and set the pace he wants because he’s leading the race, but he needs to do it in a safe and predictable manner. We could argue if that was the case today.”
Though perhaps Power wasn’t speeding up as quickly as everyone timed due to other things that happened.
Power’s race strategist Tim Cindric commented during the race that they waved the green before the leader got to the acceleration cone and that’s why everybody went before his driver.
“Basically the pace car pulls off and you can set the pace you want. I wasn’t even in the zone,” Power noted post-race. “We weren’t even in the zone that you have, the 200 yards or whatever it is, to decide for the leader to go when he wants. They actually threw the green before I was even in the zone, so it was confusing to me. So the next restart I just went because I figured, They’re going to throw the green anyway. To me, the only problem people would have had would have been if they gassed back to get a big run.”
For that reason, Andretti suggested that’s a good reason why they shouldn’t use the cone.
“I’m not complaining, but the leader should dictate it,” Andretti added. “He probably questioned himself because he might have gotten penalized or something, but you should penalize the leader, he can go when he wants.”
Restarts issues and controversy is no stranger to the Verizon IndyCar Series as fans can pull many examples from the past. If officials want to keep fans an gain more, they need to avoid issues of this nature in the races moving forward this year.