While side-by-side restarts will be the rule for all IZOD IndyCar Series races this season, starting with this weekend's season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, IndyCar officials announced Wednesday that a "Lucky Dog" rule will not be implemented after all.
"Based on input from fans and teams, the series has opted to not adopt a 'free pass' system for the first car a lap down during caution periods," IndyCar said in a statement. The NASCAR-style rule had been under consideration over the winter, with Chip Ganassi publicly coming out in favor of such a rule during last week's Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Ganassi reckoned that having similar rules to NASCAR would help fans to follow the action, but his opinion didn't sway IndyCar.
"After weighing all the options, we felt this is the best solution to allow our teams the widest platform and the most flexibility in employing varying strategies," said Brian Barnhart (ABOVE), IndyCar president of competition and operations. "We don't want to reward a lap back to a team. We want to give the teams the mechanisms to earn laps back through performance and strategic decisions.
"Racing has evolved so much over the years, and it is extremely difficult for a car to earn a lap back when the pits close under caution," Barnhart added. "By keeping the pits open throughout entire caution periods we are providing an opportunity for teams and drivers to capitalize on strategy and pair with on-track performance to remain in contention."
Side-by-side restarts will be utilized at all 17 events. Once a race is under caution, all cars will line up nose to tail behind the Safety Car. When the running order is confirmed, the pits will open for service for all cars, regardless if they're on the lead lap or not. Pits will remain open throughout the caution.
Before the restart, any cars between the race leader and safety car will be waved around to the rear of the field. After the starter gives the one lap to go signal and prior to the restart, cars line up double file. The race leader will have column/lane selection, with all other cars lining up according to relative position on track. All cars must maintain their respective track position until they cross the start-finish line.