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Changes to drive-thru penalties may be on IndyCar horizon

Jul 13, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

Derrick Walker. Photo: INDYCAR Derrick Walker. Photo: INDYCAR

The Verizon IndyCar Series is not like a McDonald’s restaurant.

So look for potential changes to drive-thru penalties in the open-wheel series, according to a report by’s Bruce Martin.

IndyCar president of competition Derrick Walker said he and other series officials will take a look at the inordinate number of drive-thru penalties thus far in 2014, and make changes if deemed appropriate.

Walker told Martin that in hindsight, many of the drive-thru penalties thus far this season may not necessarily have merited that kind of punishment.

“There are some instances where the drive-thru is too harsh a penalty for the infraction,” Walker told Martin. “For example, jumping the restart or the start. A drive-thru penalty can ruin a driver’s chances of contending for a victory and that is not what we are trying to do.

“A more appropriate penalty may be to have that driver give up three or four positions on the track rather than have him serve the drive-thru and either be at the end of the lead lap or a lap down.”

Walker, who oversees IndyCar Race Control, said any changes to drive-thru penalty situations likely won’t come until after this season.

“The drive-thru penalty will get a thorough review in the off-season and I would like to see it changed to a more appropriate penalty for some infractions,” Walker said.

Team Penske driver Will Power came into Saturday night’s race at Iowa having been called five times this season for drive-thru penalties, one of the most notable being last week at Pocono when he was penalized for blocking teammate Helio Castroneves.

But surprisingly, Power isn’t complaining about being penalized so much. Rather, he likes the drive-thru policy as it currently is.

“The good thing about a drive-thru penalty is it serves as quite a deterrent to not do that again,” Power told Martin. “If you only penalize a driver three or four positions for jumping the start then I might take that gamble to gain an extra position if they don’t call it.”

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  1. techmeister1 - Jul 13, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Power’s is being honest. Most racers will bend the rules if the outcome may be beneficial. I also understand Walker however as you don’t want to destroy a driver/teams race over some minor infraction. A time penalty or place penalty might be the answer but you’d need to make sure it’s an appropriate deterrent.

    BTW, how cool is it to have a name: “WillPower” for a racer?

  2. testover6370 - Jul 13, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    This could get too complicated. Drive through penalties are harsh but simple to understand and follow.

  3. Jeff - Jul 14, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    Power has done nothing but complain about the drive-thrus, saying something like he can’t believe he keeps receiving them.
    I like the way the rule is, drivers just need to keep their heads on straight Nd stop making stupid mistakes.

  4. racingmatt - Jul 14, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    I think the “penalty” should be tiered in a since. They need to add a penalty box. Small rules break is a drive thru, bigger rules break and its a stop in the box. Do it again and stop in the box for a longer period.

    • kitnamania13 - Jul 14, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Drive-thru penalties are quite severe, and the effect of the penalty differs greatly between track to track. On a short track with a long pit lane, the penalty is a race killer. On a long track with a short pit lane, it’s not so bad. They should have time penalties that the drivers can serve after their pit stop. The time can then vary based on the infraction. If the driver does not need to pit again, they can then add the penalty to the finishing time. The penalties would have to be served under green too.

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