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IndyCar Eliminates Standing Starts as Part of 2015 Rule Changes

IndyCar Media Site
IndyCar Media Site

INDIANAPOLIS- The Verizon IndyCar Series announced some rule changes for the 2015 season today. The biggest rule change of them all was the series eliminating standing starts beginning next season. That is controversial among race fans already as it seems most are for the rule but several aren’t.

I think it’s a good change.

Lets face it. Standing starts were a joke with these cars. Most of the times they didn’t work. These cars weren’t designed with standing starts in mind. This isn’t Formula One. These cars don’t have the launch or horsepower to take off like that. Several drivers and teams complained about the carnage they’d cause so IndyCar listened.

“Most of the tracks we run on, few meet the space criteria for our cars, which are bigger than most formula cars,” INDYCAR president of competition and operations  Derrick Walker said, “and there is some development needed with the launch. I wouldn’t say it’s out of the picture for the future. We know the fans enjoy it, and we love it, too.”

Standing starts, which were introduced in 2013 at Toronto and utilized at Long Beach, Indianapolis road course, Houston 1 and Toronto 2 in 2014, have been eliminated for the 2015 season.

Among the other changes was double points again for the 2015 season. That was adopted in 2014 for the three 500-mile races at Indy, Pocono and the season finale at Fontana. Next year, just the Indianapolis 500 and the finale at Sonoma will award double points.

“We look at the new calendar and analyze how many cars would be in contention for the championship after certain events, and the best trend with multiple cars racing for the championship was weighting it for the final race and the Indy 500, which is a special race deserving of double points,” Walker said.

One-hundred points are awarded to the winner of a double-points race, with the runner-up receiving 80 points and the third-place finisher receiving 70 points. The scale decreases to 10 points for the 25th-place finisher and lower. Bonus points again will be awarded for leading the most race laps (two points) and leading at least one lap (one point). Outside of the Indianapolis 500, an entrant receives one point for earning the Verizon P1 Award. Like last year, the Indianapolis 500 will rewards all entrants with points in its May 16-17 multi-tiered qualifications, including an additional nine points to the Verizon P1 Award winner.

Pit selections for non Indy 500 events were changed as well. Lets for the sake of this call it the “Ed Carpenter Racing rule.” Qualifying will continue to set the pit lane assignment for the following event, but rule addresses changing drivers between events, such as Ed Carpenter and Mike Conway with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014. When Conway, who drove 12 road/street course races in the No. 20 entry, yielded to Carpenter for an oval race (and vice versa), the No. 20 car was assigned the last pit stall from pit out. Under the new rule, the driver will retain their qualifying position from the previous event.

For the first race of the season, pit locations shall be assigned based upon 2014 final entrant point standings. Entrants without points shall be assigned by the date that entry was received.

Speaking of qualifying, IndyCar changed the way qualifying groups for road or street events are determined.

Groups for Segment One of the three-segment road/street course qualifications will be set by lap times in the latest on-track session. The rule corresponds to the Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that immediately precede the race event weekends. The sessions on the extra day at each venue will not be used in determining Segment One groups.

To determine Segment One, INDYCAR shall rank the cars in order of time, with the driver posting the best time ranking appearing in the first position and continuing through the rest of the field in order of increasing time. The driver with the best time ranking shall determine the groups and notify INDYCAR of his/her decision within 30 minutes following the conclusion of the practice session that determines the qualifications groups.

Finally, the final rule changes regards testing during the season and for the Indianapolis 500 rookies.

Teams will be charged four days from their 14-day test allocation for Promoter Days (formerly known as Open Tests) at Barber Motorsports Park (March 16-17, for the introduction of Chevrolet and Honda street/road course aero kits), St. Petersburg (March 27), NOLA Motorsports Park (April 10), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval (May 3), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (May 7), and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 31). The on-track Promoter Day at St. Petersburg, NOLA Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis road course and Mid-Ohio immediately precede the race event weekends.

“We see these days, working with the promoters, as a way fans can see the stars and cars in ways that aren’t available during the race weekend,” Walker said. “It will be a less formal day for the teams and drivers with long on-track sessions. Also, when you look at the schedule, there aren’t too many days that teams can test with the arrival of aero kits. We picked a nominal amount of dates to start to create value and cost-savings for teams.”

On-track testing is not permitted within seven before the start of on-track activity at a race location with the exception of the period March 9-25. Team testing blackout dates include Dec. 22-Jan. 4, 2015; Jan. 27-30; May 4-25.

And for rookie orientation, each of the speed phases for the Program for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race has been increased 5 mph.  Phase One of 10 laps at 205-210 mph, Phase Two of 15 laps at 210-215mph and Phase Three of 15 laps at 215+ mph. The laps do not have to be consecutive. The phases and corresponding speeds may be adjusted based on track/weather conditions.

Correspondingly, the Indianapolis 500 refresher test for drivers will consist of 30 total laps (the second and third phases of the ROP).

Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow @Ericsportsguru and @IndySportsRep on Twitter

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