Reports: Double-file restarts drawn down for IndyCar, per Walker

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Although there hasn’t been an official comment issued by INDYCAR from its President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker, comments made to reporters this week ahead of the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg have made one thing definitively clear: there won’t be double-file restarts in 2014.

Speaking to RACER.com’s Marshall Pruett, Walker said the lack of available front stretch real estate and particularly, the runs into Turn 1 would make the restarts unfeasible.

“Well, a lot of the tracks that we do those at are somewhat limited for space going into the first turn, and the potential for the whole track to be blocked was always there,” Walker said. “We consulted a lot of different people, drivers mainly, and came to the consensus that the decision we ought to come to is to change that format because of the space available at some of these tracks.”

One of the things Walker and the rest of INDYCAR Race Control will be monitoring closely this year is making sure restart leaders don’t jump early, via the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin.

From an additional officiating standpoint, Brian Barnhart and Johnny Unser will join INDYCAR Race Director Beaux Barfield as race stewards for the season opener, both per the 2014 series rulebook and the AP’s Jenna Fryer, among other reports.

Officiating has occasionally been in the crosshairs over the last few years in IndyCar – sometimes coming off as too heavy-handed or not enough, depending on the circumstances – but ideally officiating can take a backseat to the on-track action for the majority of the 2014 season.

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Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.