In this morning’s drivers’ meeting at Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR announced a potentially significant change to its restart procedure that takes effect today in the Chase-opening GEICO 400.
The restart zones will still be in effect, and the race leader will have the responsibility to accelerate within the zone to bring out the green flag. When the green emerges, the leader must be ahead of the second-place car.
However, once the leader accelerates at the green, the second-place car can also accelerate and beat the leader to the start/finish line. Additionally, drivers must stay in their specific lanes until they reach said line.
Restarts have been a recurring issue this season, and they were such again last weekend at Richmond International Raceway. While it was buried by the controversy surrounding Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing, the final restart of last Saturday’s Sprint Cup race saw second-place Carl Edwards beat race leader Paul Menard to the start/finish line and then go on to win.
Edwards maintained that Menard had spun his tires, and NASCAR opted not to penalize Edwards, who is one of the 13 Chase contenders set to begin their drive toward a Sprint Cup championship this afternoon at Chicagoland.
One day before, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at RIR also ended with a restart controversy. Television replays appeared to show Brad Keselowski moving ahead of Brian Scott before the two crossed into the restart zone with six laps remaining in the event. But NASCAR did not penalize Keselowski, who then pulled away for the victory.
Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.
Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.
However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.
Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.
The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.
Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.
A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.