74 Minutes

The first two races of the 2015 Verizon Indycar Season have been interesting to say the least, especially NOLA. There's been some great racing and some pretty good passing with a bit of drama mixed in; but to say I'm a bit upset as to how the season has started is an understatement, and the underlying problem is how Indycar handles cautions.

In the current format, every caution is treated the same. Whether a car stalls (NOLA) , or a wing gets damaged leaving debris (St. Pete), or there's a huge accident, caution procedures are generally the same. The period begins with the field packing up to the pace car (+1 to 2 laps). After the pack and given the accident isn't impeding pit entrance, the pits will open for cars on the lead lap (+1). After the leaders pit, the cars a lap down or anyone else who wants to pit may do so (+1). Then the cars will get time to warm up their tires (+1 to 2). Plus you have to keep in mind that the track workers have to remedy the reason the yellow came out for whatever reason,  Give or take, every caution, regardless of what the incident is, takes at minimum four laps, but is usually is between five to seven laps.

Please, for the love of God, make it stop. I am so sick of seeing a car make a mistake and ruining the flow of the race. In the case of Gabby Chaves, who stalled precariously close to the apex of a corner at NOLA, I say through the yellow. He's in a dangerous spot and the corner workers deserve protection. In the case of Sage Karam, who beached his car in the middle of a sand trap away from the track, leave him there. There should be more of a punishment for beaching your car. Throwing a yellow and ruining the flow of the race is just not acceptable. Sage, while unfortunate for him and his race, isn't harming anyone. I remember fondly of Dario Franchitti spinning in the bus stop at Watkins Glen in 2006 with some laps remaining. No yellow flag was thrown, and Dario had to spend the last dozen or so laps sitting in the sand trap waiting out the race. Why did this stop being a thing?

If a car is stopped and out of harms way, let it be. If there's debris on the track and it's out of harms way, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Chaves off during the race (Photo: Bret Kelley / Indycar Media)

I for one thought the trial system that was used last and I'm assuming was based on the old CART model was a good step in the right direction. Those rules were once the yellow was thrown and, assuming the pits had a safe entrance, the pits were opened to all. Drivers got to the pits right away and made their service and went on their way. This would save several laps.

Sure shit happens. Rain and Indycars don't mix very well. I'm not sure if the tires suck or the power put down by the engines makes the cars extraordinary difficult to drive, or if the track didn't drain properly, or if all the Indycar drivers fail at driving in the rain, But in a very competitive racing series, you have to assume incidents are going to happen. What you can control as a series is how long each incident takes to clean up and not making every spin, stall, or Sage Karam problem to take up five to six laps of racing away from the fans, teams, and drivers.

After all, of the 105 minute duration of the race at NOLA, 71 minutes were under yellow.

What a joke.

Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey