INDIANAPOLIS – IndyCar officials have announced a series on on-track alterations ahead of Sunday’s opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg, Fla.
IndyCar will utilize a three-steward system comprised of race director, driver steward and official or independent steward to adjudicate competitor on-track sporting infractions when warranted.
For the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Race Director Beaux Barfield, IndyCar vice president of competition Brian Barnhart and Johnny Unser, Mazda Road to Indy driver coach, are the stewards. The senior steward, as named by IndyCar President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker before each race, will determine the penalty.
– Any of the stewards can call for a review if competitor(s) is considered to have violated a sporting rule or regulation.
– All available camera views, timeline data and rulebook references are at the stewards’ disposal.
– Any penalty is determined by penalty guidelines and race director decides severity. Penalty guidelines contain, for example:
— Rule as defined in the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook
— Severity scale of the minimum and maximum of penalty
— If a penalty is appealable or not
—If it’s considered as accidental or deliberate
— If it affects a competitor’s race result
“It’s really about equipment and procedures and really trying to improve our consistency and our ability to make the right call,” Walker said. “I had the really fortunate ability when I joined IndyCar to visit a lot of race organizations and different events and they were kind of enough for me to look at what they did and how they did. Everybody has the same problem. You don’t have enough eyes and just making the right calls is a risk factor. At the end, I took the best of the best and some of it could apply to what we do and some didn’t. We’re moving forward, cautiously, with a new system that really starts with equipment. We spent a considerable amount of money on screens and adding camera positions and a replay systems that will let us zoom in in details. It’s up and running here and it runs fantastic.
“As for the actual officiating, last year we had one person, who would have an on-or-off again love affair with the media. Beaux (Barfield) was the story for the weekend. He got a lot of calls that were blamed on him, and some were and some weren’t. What we had to do was get more people involved in the process. We’ll have three stewards, that we’ll nominate for each race. And we’ll work in fresh faces as we go along and gain some independence and stewards who are not officials with IndyCar, It will add some impartiality there and I think is what the teams and drivers really want. Race control needs to be better. It’s a tough job when it’s a one-man band making all the calls.”
The series has also updated its rules regarding restarts. Single-file restarts will be in place on all street and road courses. Double-file restarts will take place on all ovals except Indianapolis.
“Double-file starts are exciting to watch but when we start banging into each other, we look like idiots,” Walker said. “Rather than have one weekend where we’re doing them or and one where we are not doing them, we’re just going to be consistent and do one thing.”
Also beginning Sunday pit road will be closed during full-course cautions. Any driver entering pit lane when it is declared to be closed may avoid penalty by continuing through without stopping. IndyCar has also added a pit lane exit light. If another car on the race track is approaching the pit lane exit, the four blue lights on the tower will flash to warn drivers leaving the pit lane.