IndyCar drivers have asked race director Beaux Barfield to stop restarting oval-track races on the front straightaway even though it has been exciting this season.
Barfield said Thursday he is considering a change, perhaps in time for Saturday night's Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.
In previous years, the restart zone was in the middle of the fourth corner. The issue came up as a result of Scott Dixon being wrongly penalized for passing on an aborted restart in last weekend's race at the Milwaukee Mile.
Safety is part of what is driving the request to change; the other is fairness. Drivers in the front row are disadvantaged as trailing competitors lag back to get a jump on them.
Because those in arrears are up to speed quicker than the front row, cars are often three- and four-wide heading to Turn 1. Remarkably, in some cases, there hasn't been a restart accident in any of the three oval races this season.
"Everybody back to 20th can just floor it and fan out," Ryan Briscoe said of what happens. "In the past when we had to accelerate in the middle of the corner, everyone had to tiptoe through the corner because you were still turning, so it wouldn't fan out like that.
"Now, everyone's on the straightaway and everyone just gasses it. It's a mess."
Tony Kanaan agreed.
"My opinion, the earlier (you restart), the better it's going to be for everybody," he said. "Right now, the people that get penalized (are the ones) in first and second place because you can time them."
Kanaan said that's how he made that incredible jump from fifth to first on a restart in last month's Indianapolis 500.
"What I did at Indy, it wasn't a violation (because) I just knew where they're going to accelerate," he said. "If I'm three rows behind, I can accelerate before them.
"I'm not passing anybody (too early); I'm still behind the car (in front of me)."
Barfield said he is open to change because the leaders don't have the momentum to defend what they have earned. He also said it would be easier to officiate.
Briscoe said it's a matter of time before there's a large accident.
"I was going down the straight on the last restart (at Milwaukee), and I watched Dixon going down by the pit wall," he said. "Honestly, I was just waiting for a car to go airborne and crash. I'm surprised it didn't happen."
Barfield doesn't think the current restart zone is unsafe given that the field has been "consistently clean" in Turn 1, but it's something to take into account, he said.
Think an engine doesn't make a difference in IndyCar? Ask two veteran drivers.
Since switching from Lotus to Chevrolet and Honda, respectively, Oriol Servia (Panther DRR) and Alex Tagliani (Bryan Herta Autosport) are IndyCar's drivers best on the move.
Servia was 17th in the series points standings when his team made the engine switch entering the 500. He didn't qualify well due to a crash in practice, but finished fourth in the race, one of his three top-five finishes in the four races working with Chevrolet.
With a Lotus, Servia had an average finish of 14.0. With Chevrolet, it's 8.25. That improvement jumped him to 10th in the standings by the season's midpoint.
Tagliani's story is similar. He was 24th in points after the fourth race, in part because his team decided to skip the Brazil race as it dumped Lotus. In four races with Honda, Tagliani has a pole (at Texas) and top-10 finishes in the past three races.
Tagliani has moved up to 19th in the standings, which under current rules would have been worth $1.1 million from the Leaders Circle program. The top 20 are eligible for Leaders Circle payouts, which are based on the previous year's finish. Qualifications for the 2013 program have not been announced.
Tagliani has lowered his average starting position from 16.6 to 7.0 and his average finishing position from 20.6 to 9.5. That's progress.
Practice at Iowa begins at 11 a.m. today, but the 3:30 p.m. session is the one to watch. That will set the lineup for tonight's three heat races.
The top eight will be in the third heat for the top eight starting positions in Saturday's main event.
The heat races, which begin at 7:15 p.m., will not be televised live. Instead, they will be part of the NBC Sports' Saturday broadcast that begins at 8 p.m.