PRUETT: Early-season IndyCar musings

Images by Abbott & Levitt/LAT, IMS Photo

PRUETT: Early-season IndyCar musings


PRUETT: Early-season IndyCar musings


Combined, King’s started 14 positions ahead of Pigot, and all while seeing each track – except Barber – for the first time.

The three races have been a different story as tire problems, brake problems and rookie driving errors have blighted King’s results. His best finish is the 14th that was just earned at Barber, but he’s shown enough promise to know there’s a lot more to come. Making the firestone Fast Six on his IndyCar debut and backing it up with a Firestone Fast 12 on his second outing doesn’t happen by mistake.

The curious case resides within Pigot’s program. The kid didn’t forget how to drive during the off-season, so there’s more to the story here waiting to be resolved. A pair of 14ths and a pair of 15ths are miles off of where the 2015 Indy Lights champion can run, and his lack of pace might be the most curious item from the early season.

If King can get to the end of a race without drama, and ECR can find whatever’s missing from Pigot’s entry, Chevy could have more of the help it needs inside the top 10.

Looking to the communications side of the sport, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has done a stellar job with its post-race video recaps. Shot and produced by the team’s communications service provider CoForce, which is owned by NBCSN commentator Anders Krohn, the videos add a nice touch in a series where such effort by its team is rare.

Outside of questionable officiating calls, the only major misstep I’ve seen from IndyCar came Sunday at Barber when it monkeyed with the field while it was frozen overnight for the continuation that followed on Monday.

Consider how a weather delay is treated in Major League Baseball. Once the adverse conditions pass, MLB does not clear runners from the bases to equalize its teams’ chances once play resumes. The game is paused, a period of time passes, and the game resumes just as it was halted. Continuity is key, and maintaining the integrity of the game is paramount to MLB. I can’t say the same with how IndyCar treated its weather delay at Barber.

IndyCar cited the extreme delay at Texas in 2016 where rain forced a stoppage in June and its resumption in August as the playbook it used for handling Barber. How the series ended up taking the most extreme delay in recent memory and applying its action to a painfully ordinary delay – less than 24 hours – in Barber is rather curious.

The reason why the Barber situation feels wrong to me stems from the unnecessary manipulation of the race. Teams were allowed to top up their tanks, push-to-pass was reset to the maximum for all, and yet, other items like allowing teams with damaged cars to make repairs and take the restart were not allowed. If the series is going to make random exceptions, why not go all-in and abandon all the norms? Why not hit a total reset button and pretend Sunday never took place? NBCSN made time for the Monday event, so airtime didn’t appear to be a limiting factor.

Truth is, ignoring some standard practices while upholding others will never be a good look. IndyCar’s poor decisions at Barber have little to do with who ended up finishing where on Monday, and whether those who were on an alternate fuel strategy on Sunday got hosed by the unnecessary refueling allowance overnight.

It’s a case of not respecting the game. Teams and drivers took quite a few risks – on track, during pit stops and with strategy – in the rain on Sunday. Unless we’re dealing with extenuating circumstances like Texas presented, IndyCar needs to take the MLB mindset and honor whatever took place up to the stoppage and resume the race as if there was no interruption.

I appreciate IndyCar’s willingness to form coalitions and treat every situation like it’s the first time being faced, but there comes a point where, as Q-Tip said in A Tribe Called Quest’s song Luck of Lucien, “Instead of doing so much, why don’t you do just a little.” In this instance, it should have taken another step and just done nothing.

Let’s close on something positive. The folks at the Toronto Motorsports memorabilia store in Canada have been bringing good fun to IndyCar this year with new cartoons and stickers penned by artist Roger Warrick.

NBCSN pit reporter Katie Hargitt was the first personality memorialized by Warrick and Toronto Motorsports owner Derrick Kostka at St. Pete; Conor Daly was next at Phoenix; rookie Zachary Claman De Melo was celebrated on his series debut at Long Beach, and Paul Tracy – the Thrill from the same West Hill where Kostka’s business is located – received the car-toon treatment at Barber.

With new ‘Guess Who’s Next?’ Twitter promotions heading into every IndyCar race, the quest to identify the subject of Warrick’s latest caricatures has resulted in some hilarious answers.

I can’t wait for the guessing to begin leading up to the Indy GP on May 12.