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IndyCar St. Pete

Power angered again by IndyCar’s lack of blue-flag rules

Will Power was left agitated again by the blue-flag rule in IndyCar that enabled Jimmie Johnson to race him despite having been lapped, and lost him the chance to catch the lead battle in St. Petersburg.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

Currently the rule allows backmarkers to try and stave off the lead cars until they’re a lap down to the whole field, something that drew criticism, bewilderment exasperation from Power, Colton Herta and Romain Grosjean in Friday’s media conference.

Following the opening round of the season in which he finished third, Power brought up the topic again, after struggling to find a way past Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson in the closing laps, effectively ending his chances of joining the Scott McLaughlin vs Alex Palou battle for the win.

Passing Johnson had reduced McLaughlin’s lead over Palou from 1.1sec to 0.6sec, and Power was annoyed that Johnson was allowed to try and stay ahead of him, even though he was now a lap down on the leader. Power had stopped later than his fellow two-stopping rivals, and therefore had more fuel to burn and had hitherto been lapping 0.2-0.3sec faster. Getting caught behind Johnson cost him 1.4sec, and ended his charge.

In the final two laps, McLaughlin and Palou also lost time behind Devlin DeFrancesco of Andretti Autosport.

Palou, who had risen from 10th on the grid after a troubled practice and qualifying for Ganassi, was happy to have climbed to second but admitted that, regarding backmarkers, “I didn't really like that they – especially in the last three laps – didn't let us pass. Yeah, you never want a race to be dictated by the slow cars.”

Power chimed in sarcastically, “We keep telling IndyCar, and they just keep making changes – oh, no, they don't. Sorry, I forgot.

“I've been on this for 10 years. When every driver in the driver meeting says we need a blue flag rule, why isn't there one?”

He later added, “I'm happy with my result but I'm unhappy with the lack of things that get done… I feel great, but I just like to point out the problems that could be fixed so easily within the series with just a little change.

After Palou jokingly feigned shock that this was Power’s 17th season in Indy car racing, Power smiled and nodded. “It's long, man, so you've seen it all. So you have a pretty good grasp of what would make the racing better… So you try to tell them, ‘I've got a great idea, it's called blue flags when someone is a lap down and they're racing the leader that's battling for a win.’”

Asked by Palou if he’d screamed on the radio, Power tongue-in-cheek replied, “No, I never say much on the radio. I said, ‘Oh, Jimmie looks like he's trying to get a bit of coverage here. I had a bit of fun with it. It's a good battle between him and I. I hope the TV is getting that sponsor for him.’”

Later, Palou was asked about Ganassi’s fortunes in the race and the questioner mentioned that Johnson’s Firestone alternate compound tires “dropped off really bad, so that put him back,” Power interjected again.

“Jimmie was P3 – hang on, no, he was racing me. Oh, he was a lap down, sorry… The way he was racing I thought it was for the podium.”

Power's suggested remedy for the problem is for lapped cars to get a lap back if there's a caution period, so that backmarkers don't need to stay on the lead lap and therefore don't interfere with the lead battle.

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