LIVE BLOG: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on March 28, 2014 8:13 am
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12:09 PM – Immediately after IndyCar practice, I headed over to the Indy Fans Tweet Up. It was a great turnout, and I was so excited to meet so many fantastic IndyCar fans, some for the first time ever, and some who I had never met but who I had been talking to on Twitter for years! I’m so afraid I’ll miss someone, but I’ll try to shout out to as many people as I can off the top of my head: @shayzen, @Valder137, @Vincent1701, @CogitoErgoBibo, and @TheWheelMenShow were among the new (old) friends I made today. Thank you! Fantastic job by Pippa Mann and Amy at @IndyCarMom, as always, for doing a fantastic job of putting things together.

While the Tweet Up was going on, the USF2000 qualified for their Race 1. Victor Franzoni of Brazil snagged pole for Afterburner Autosport, followed by 2014 Winterfest champion and Florida native RC Enerson with Team E, MFW driver blogger Aaron Telitz from ArmsUp Motorsports, 2013 Team USA Scholarship recipient Jake Eidson for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, and Henrik Furuseth of Norway for JAY Motorsports. That’s three young American talents in the top 5!  That race goes green at 4:40 today.

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11:53 AM – The times from practice 3 have been added to our Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Event Summary.

INDYCAR has also released a statement clarifying some of the on-track changes this season, and some of them are a little different from what some of us heard yesterday. Here’s the full text:

Race Control

Three-steward system comprised of race director, driver steward and official or independent steward to adjudicate competitor on-track sporting infractions when warranted.

For the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Race Director Beaux Barfield, INDYCAR vice president of competition Brian Barnhart and Johnny Unser, Mazda Road to Indy driver coach, are the stewards. The senior steward, as named by INDYCAR president of competition and operations Derrick Walker before each race, will determine the penalty.

On-track procedures:
* Any of the stewards can call for a review if competitor(s) is considered to have violated a sporting rule or regulation.
* All available camera views, timeline data and rulebook references are at the stewards’ disposal.
* Any penalty is determined by penalty guidelines and race director decides severity. Penalty guidelines contain, for example:
- Rule as defined in the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook
- Severity scale of the minimum and maximum of penalty
- If a penalty is appealable or not
- If it’s considered as accidental or deliberate
- If it affects a competitor’s race result

Restarts

Single-file restarts will be in place on all street and road courses. Double-file restarts will take place on all ovals except Indianapolis.

Pits closed during full-course cautions

Any driver entering pit lane when declared to be closed may avoid penalty by continuing through without stopping.

Pit lane exit light

INDYCAR has added a pit lane exit light. If another car on the racetrack is approaching the pit lane exit, the four blue lights on the tower will flash to warn drivers leaving the pit lane.

To my mind, this is mostly positive. The final decision on the restart procedure is fair enough — there was initially some concern that it may be confusing to change it around, but “all ovals except Indianapolis” isn’t too hard to figure out. We discussed the issue of closing the pits on this week’s podcast, and the other changes mentioned here are probably long overdue.

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