Should They Ditch The Double-File Re-Starts?
For the last couple of days, I’ve read comments from more than just a few fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series that say they should ditch the double-file re-starts and do it now. Their logic is that if things were that crazy in turn one of St. Petersburg, what will they be like in narrow confines like Barber or Long Beach? Well, it will certainly be interesting, but I don’t think they need to dump the rule now.
I was not in favor of the double-file re-starts, when it was first announced back in January. I didn’t get as wrapped up about it as some fans did. My main objection was that it looked like the series was copying NASCAR just for the sake of copying NASCAR. I saw no real reason for it.
But now that the season has started, I believe that The IZOD IndyCar Series should stick with it – at least for a while. Now, if they are wadding up six or seven cars on each re-start – something might eventually have to change or be tweaked. But to panic and reverse course after one race, would be foolish.
The question I keep asking myself is; do they really need to tweak anything? I still have to think that the drivers are going to have to exert a little more patience and discipline. I’m not a driver and I have no earthly idea what it’s like to accelerate and decelerate so quickly, with cars all around you that are trying to squeeze into the same small place that you are. But I know that it’s possible. Drivers in Formula One do it all the time. These cars aren’t near as powerful or nimble as an F1 car, but I would think that the good drivers could adjust their driving style.
After all, that’s the sign of a good driver – one who is versatile enough to conform to whatever driving conditions they face, whether it’s rain, wind, heat, cold, new rules, whatever. The successful drivers will adapt.
Like CART in the eighties and early nineties, The IZOD IndyCar Series prides itself on the versatility of its drivers and their ability to adapt and adjust to multiple circuits. Helio Castroneves shouldered quite a bit of the blame for Sunday’s opening lap crash, and rightfully so. But Marco Andretti was also trying to pick off as many spots as he could going into that first turn. We can write St. Petersburg off as a learning experience. Hopefully, the drivers learned something that they can carry into the rest of the season – that is, don’t get greedy.
As much as I hesitate to even acknowledge this, the overnight TV ratings averaged a 1.4. That is very good considering they were hoping just to get anything over a 1.0. Perhaps it was the threat of a looming disaster that made people tune in. When they saw the melee on the opening lap, they possibly decided to stick around for more. Is that the kind of fan we want? No, not for the long term, but we’re trying to grow and sell a product. Right now, I would think the series would take any fan they could get. Sunday night, I heard a caller on Wind Tunnel say that he quit watching Indy cars in the late eighties because it got boring. He tuned into Sunday’s race, liked what he saw and even called his brother to get him to tune in.
Please understand that I’m not advocating a demolition derby – far from it. But now that the season has started with the rule in place, I don’t think they need to tinker with it. Too many other proposed rule changes have been rescinded in the last few weeks. Although I was glad to see most of them changed, and I applaud Randy Bernard with having the foresight to change them – too many rule changes and back-tracking can give the impression of indecisiveness and weak leadership. We know that’s not the case with Randy Bernard, but causal fans and more importantly – potential sponsors don’t know this.
So now it’s up to the drivers to get this right. They should be able to police themselves to make sure what happened Sunday doesn’t become a regular occurrence. Sure, it might bring in a few curious viewers, but it looks like the drivers don’t know what they’re doing. It also becomes expensive repairing the cars and to overcome a points deficit. It’s one thing if a driver wants to put his or her own car at risk, but in such close quarters other drivers that chose to take a prudent approach gets taken out and have their day or possibly season ruined. Such was the case with Mike Conway on Sunday. After showing such promise throughout the weekend, his day was over before it got started – simply due to the over-zealousness of some other driver.
So I hope Randy Bernard and the powers that be will give this a chance to sort itself out. Now is not the time to panic. Somehow they need to force the drivers to make it work. It wasn’t a great idea to begin with, but now that the season has started with it – they need to stick with it.