Following the IZOD IndyCar Series' race at Toronto, RACER web editor Tony DiZinno caught up with IndyCar president of competition Beaux Barfield for a debrief on some of the items that came up during the race.
RACER: Why were the pits closed at the first caution period?
BEAUX BARFIELD: The pace car was positioned in that runoff that goes from (Turns) 1 to 2. If I would have left the pits open, I'm encouraging a race back to pit out, which really isn't a problem. But then the cars would likely continue to maintain some speed until they hit the pace car at Turn 2, since it wasn't at pit out.
With the incident being at Turn 1, and needing to get response vehicles there, I didn't want the cars coming out of the pits carrying speed through that area. I decided to shut them down and get pace car out in front of them to get them cleanly through that area while the safety vehicles were on site.
RACER: This is to prevent a case, similar to say maybe 2005 or so, when Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy raced themselves out of the pits, and went over the white line on pit out?
BB: Yeah, that's exactly what I didn't want. It was in just a bad enough spot in that turn, that with such a wide entry and a narrow exit, that I wanted to get it shut down and under control.
RACER: Regarding the penalty with Simon Pagenaud, what was your view of the move itself on Josef Newgarden, how did you make the call, and how was the penalty assessed?
BB: The move itself was an absolute movement in reaction to. One of the parameters that determine whether it's a defensive move or a block is whether it's proactive or reactive. It was certainly reactive, and was a very easy call.
As most teams try to do, they sent via IM asking if they could serve the penalty under yellow, which is absolutely not allowed. I don't know if they needed to pit, or go into the pit to claim they served it, but I was not going to allow that. Regardless of why they pitted, I had the appropriate information to determine that if we didn't go back to green, they would receive the equivalent of a drive-through, which is 30 seconds applied after the race.
As it turned out, it was a non-penalty because they ended up as the last car on the lead lap. But that's really insignificant to me. It's a statement made that this was a penalizable offense.
RACER: As it turned out, Pagenaud's car was borderline on making it the duration without a splash, if there was no yellow. Simon had pitted several laps sooner than Josef. At that point, it looked like enough room was made open, but all Josef could do then was go into the barriers.
BB: We were all watching, thinking they had something up their sleeve in wondering if they'd make it or needing to pit again. It was interesting, then, that the podium race got taken into his own hands when it looked like either he'd have to save fuel or stop for a splash.
RACER: With the last caution leading into the last restart, what was the sweeping procedure, or more marbles offline at Turn 1? Or was it just a case of the last few laps at Toronto where everyone loses their heads?
BB: The incident on the last restart, not only the one at Turn 1, but also the one at Turn 3, to me, you couldn't blame on track conditions. That was just typical drivers going for it in the last 10 laps.
I didn't sweep the track on that last caution, because I was in a hurry to get the thing going again. My safety dispatcher looked and asked, “Do we want to sweep?” and I said, “Absolutely not. We're going to get this thing back to green as quickly as possible.” So we stood down the sweeper program.
We looked at both incidents at both turns, and determined incidental contact, with no further action taken.
RACER: Overall, given your expectations going in and compared to last year, how do you think the race played out?
BB: I thought it was good. There was some good close, clean, racing. We had that really long run in the middle of the race. Where it stayed green for so long. Saw some great passing going into Turn 3. We saw more defending by the way I define it, and is allowed, than we did last year.
With the exception of Simon's that certainly crossed the line, and felt I needed to take action, I was very impressed and happy with the on-track behavior.
Even at the end, not that I condone some of the over-aggressive driving, but with 10 laps to go, we know people aren't as likely to give much room, and there's a greater likelihood of incidents and issues to be dealt with. That's kind of to be expected.