The NTT IndyCar Series is expected to revise its rule governing work conducted on cars during a red flag. RACER has learned the series intends to prohibit any efforts to work on a damaged car while the race is stopped with a rule modification that calls for immediate exclusion if the regulation is violated.
Following the five-car pile-up on the first lap at Pocono Raceway that led to an extended red flag period (pictured above) while the circuit underwent repairs, the damaged cars of Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe were mended by their teams.
Citing Rule 126.96.36.199.4, which states, “Unapproved work performed on a Car not related to INDYCAR approved safety issues while under a Red Condition will result in a minimum two (2) lap penalty, which will be enforced in a manner determined by INDYCAR,” both teams deemed the cost more than acceptable in order to get the three cars ready for the return to racing. By getting an early start on repairs, the cars were able to rejoin the action with a greater number of laps left in the race and, in theory, advance farther up the finishing order to capture a bigger points haul.
Rossi’s car, in particular, was a high priority due to the Californian holding second in the championship with four rounds — including Pocono — left to run. Having circumvented the series’ intent for the rule, all three cars were assessed 10-lap penalties by race control.
For their efforts, Rossi’s No. 27 Honda was able to return to the race and finish 18th in the 22-car field, earning 12 points. Hunter-Reay earned 11 points for his run to 19th, and Hinchcliffe took home 10 points for 20th.
With the anticipated adjustment to the rule for 2020, teams with an interest in repairing their damaged cars will be forced to wait until the red flag is removed or face expulsion.