A significant change to tire allocation rules is under consideration by the Verizon IndyCar Series. If it’s approved by IndyCar’s competition department, rookie drivers and those outside the top 10 in points could receive an extra set of Firestones to use at their discretion.
“We’re looking at it and think it would be helpful for rookies,” competition president Jay Frye told RACER. “I’m still a little bit mixed on it for drivers outside the top 10, and it wouldn’t start right away for them. It wouldn’t start at Race 2 or Race 3; you might have some people who’ve had a bad race and that’s the only reason they’re not in the top 10, so what we’re discussing is maybe starting after the Indy 500 for that program.
“But I think for the rookies, who we always hear are needing more track time and have to conserve their sets of tires [in practice] which holds them back, this could be a good way around that problem for them.”
Frye is also conscious of the fact that with most teams restricting their on-track running during practice sessions to save fresh tires for the race, fans are often treated to practice outings where only a few cars are running at the same time (above: Spencer Pigot cools his heels while waiting for seat time). If the extra-set rule is ratified for the 10-12 drivers outside the top 10, it could come with an expectation for that set to be consumed prior to qualifying.
“The first part of the rule has merit for the rookies because they will benefit from putting more laps in the books,” Frye continued. “And with the second part of the rule, it gives each race promoter more opportunities to have more drivers out and practicing.
“We just need to make sure that if it’s implemented, it’s done in a way, and at a point in the season, where drivers who aren’t in the top 10 are outside for real reasons, and would also benefit from extra time to improve wherever they’re coming up short. The last thing to say is those who are inside and outside the top 10 have been pretty consistent.”
A meeting with Firestone is planned for later this month, at which IndyCar will determine whether the extra-set rule can be accommodated by its official tire partner.
“We’re going to go through the tire quantities for events, and see if we did this after Indy, how it would affect their ability to support it,” he said. “Firestone’s been great to work with, and I’d venture to say that with the new universal body kit next year, there will be some changes to their tires to suit those changes, so there will be a lot for everyone to learn. That’s another factor that’s gone into this rule change we’re looking at.”