Verizon IndyCar Series competition boss Jay Frye says the decision to allow its teams to refuel for the continuation of the rain-delayed Barber race and restart with a full complement of push-to-pass functionality took a page from the rain-delayed Texas race in 2016.
“We called it a modified red flag as we did at Texas,” Frye told RACER. “We set a precedent there before. If we could have continued running the next day, it’s easy to impound cars at Texas with the garages there. You pull them in, pull the doors down, and lock the garage. Here, it’s more spread out, and it’s harder to police them. It wasn’t the only factor, but it was one of the factors.”
For the handful of teams who pitted early on Sunday in an attempt to leapfrog the field using an alternate strategy, the refueling allowance, which negated any advantage that might have played out naturally, was particularly mystifying.
“And the cars had been sitting out in the rain for a few hours, and we knew today was going to be different than yesterday with the dry track,” Frye continued. “As we always do, we got a group of people together and discussed things. We didn’t make it up as we go, as I saw some people said. We had a plan and procedures in place, but it is a moving target. Since each situation is different, we might add or change some of those procedures. Ultimately, I think fans got a good race, and we got in 82 of the 90 laps.”
Where the major difference lies is in the timespan between the Barber and Texas rainouts.
In what took place at Texas, multiple attempts to continue were unsuccessful and ultimately led to a complete rescheduling of the event two months and 15 days after the original race got under way. Upon the series’ return, five races were held between the first visit to Texas in June and the second in August, which made starting with the exact amount of fuel originally left in the tanks a significant problem to solve.
The subsequent call to have teams start with full tanks of fuel, in light of the 76-day span between races at the 1.5-mile oval, was not heavily questioned at the time.
With less than 24 hours between the red flag on Sunday and the resumption of the race Monday morning at Barber, a similar need was not apparent.
In light of the concerns over impounding cars at Barber, which lacks permanent garages, instructing teams to place the caps over both refueling ports on their cars and using seals installed over those caps by the series could have served as a reasonable method to prevent overnight tampering.