IndyCar drivers want revised restart rules for lap-down cars after Mid-Ohio
Instead of losing his temper and confronting his fellow driver after getting blocked on the only restart of the race that cost him any chance at winning at Mid-Ohio, Team Penske’s Will Power was very thoughtful and understanding of rookie driver Esteban Gutierrez.
The incident came on lap 71 as the field charged to the only restart in the 90-lap race. Gutierrez was one lap down to the leader but not one lap down to the field. He started second in line between race leader Josef Newgarden and second-place Power.
As the green flag waved to resume racing, Gutierrez ducked out of line attempting to pass Newgarden and get back on the lead lap. By doing so, he went into turn 4 too deep, had to get on the brakes in front of Power and that effectively ended Power’s opportunity to make the pass for the lead.
Power, known for his short fuse and quick temper, was quite level-headed in his response.
“You can’t really blame Esteban because it is the rule, but they need to change that rule and I know the other guys agree with me, as well,” Power told Autoweek on the golf cart ride to the media center. “To make a race of it IndyCar wants to make better racing. It’s not Gutierrez’s fault, either. He is told to stay there because of the rules. That’s up to IndyCar.
“It did cost me a chance at winning the race because I didn’t want to risk someone who was not in the race. I had a five-lap window to attack Josef Newgarden on the new Firestone Reds before the fronts would go off.”
Rival team owner Bobby Rahal believes Carlos Munoz and Gutierrez both hampered his driver, Graham Rahal, on two occasions in the race.
“I hope Munoz and Gutierrez are on Josef Newgarden’s Christmas list because they made the race for him,” Rahal told Autoweek. “Not that Josef did a bad job, but they ran interference.
“You can’t run behind a guy that is going slowly. That bothers me. I’ll probably be talking to Jay Frye (IndyCar president of competition and race operations) and Brian Barnhart (race director) about driver courtesy, etiquette and manners because there is such a thing.
“When you are a lap down if you want to prove you’re fast, latch on to the end of the group, don’t get in the middle of it.”
Graham Rahal finished third in the race.
“I think we need to have a talk behind closed doors with the drivers,” Graham Rahal said. “I would say Gutierrez was damn close to taking out the leader. I’m sure you saw it. That’s just ridiculous, honestly. We’ll talk about it behind closed doors. I think everybody needs a little bit of a shakeup here with just the respect between drivers, but we’ll go from there.
“I always get told I’m a whiner when I talk about those sorts of things. I’ll let Will talk about it.”
Power reiterated what he said on the golf cart.
“It’s actually not Gutierrez’s fault,” he said. “The rules for IndyCar is kind of ridiculous, that the team would tell him to stay and push and he’s not even in the lead. He’s not even leading. I understand if he was ahead of Newgarden because then, if it goes yellow, he gets his lap back.
“IndyCar on one hand wants really good racing, but then you put a bunch of back markers, people a lap down in the mix. It ruined probably a very good battle at the end because Josef was on Black tires and we were on reds.”
Bobby Rahal wants IndyCar officials to be more responsive with the blue flag and even the black flag.
“If I were in charge, I would have black flagged Munoz after a lap or two,” Bobby Rahal said, referring to an earlier incident with the driver for AJ Foyt Racing. “It’s unprofessional when that stuff happens. When they are up there, maybe they will find out what it’s like.
“You hate for it to be like that, but you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”