Changes to drive-thru penalties may be on IndyCar horizon

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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 FoxSports.com’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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