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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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).