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Power calls for Virtual Safety Car in IndyCar

Detroit race 2 winner Will Power believes the IndyCar Series needs to introduce Formula 1’s Virtual Safety Car system in order to prevent the “lottery” caused by closing the pits while a race is under full-course caution.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB10 during a practice of the Virtual Safety Car
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Yellow flag in Detroit
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Stoffel Vandoorne, ART Grand Prix, passes under a 'VSC - Virtual Safety Car' board

One of Power’s bugbears for many years has been frontrunners who make their stints last longer by going fast, while also saving fuel, effectively getting penalized for it should a yellow fall during the pitstop ‘windows’.

Those who have stopped earlier cycle to the front, because the field is bunched together by the full-course caution and those yet to stop cannot do so because the pitlane is rendered ‘closed’. This is to prevent drivers continuing at unabated pace, possibly past the cause of the yellow, as they hurry to hit pitlane.

Explaining his 13-month absence from Victory Lane, Power commented: “It was frustrating last year because I felt I was the quickest. I had more poles than anyone, led a lot of laps.

“But it just amazed me when yellows would fall and throw you completely out of the game. That's IndyCar racing. Sometimes it's just very frustrating because it can be just pure luck where the yellow falls.”

As an example, Power cited Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves’ misfortune in yesterday’s race. The Brazilian veteran was leading but elected to go a lap longer than the other principal drivers in the lead battle – Power, another teammate Simon Pagenaud, and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay.

However, while these three were on pitlane, Jack Hawksworth’s AJ Foyt Racing-Honda stopped on track, bringing out the full-course yellow. By the time the pitlane opened and Castroneves was able to get serviced and resume, he was buried in 15th.

Said Power: “Look at Helio today. Caught out by a yellow. He's done a good job, worked his way to the front, saved more fuel, gone a lap longer, but literally it's like a drive-through penalty if you do that. You get put to the back.

“You're leading, goes yellow, everyone pits, you go to the back. I believe that's something that should change in IndyCar.”

Asked if he thought the pits should remain open under full-course cautions, Power said yes, but with a Virtual Safety Car system implemented.

“We've talked a lot about that,” he commented. “When [former race director] Beaux Barfield was here, it changed – the pit remained open under yellow.

“The problem you have then is people racing back to the pits. If there's an incident, people are going past that incident too fast.

“But now if you look at Formula 1, you have these virtual safety cars. We can do that. We can slow everyone down to the same speed on the track, whatever that may be, 60 miles an hour, go around on a limiter until everyone pits, and it prevents that.

“It's an easy fix and we should do it. It even makes it safer. Everyone slows down to a limited speed where they have it on their dash. Then we can still pack up and have restarts and all that stuff as well.

“It makes it safer in the pits. It makes it more fair on the track. It makes it more sportsmanlike, you could say, so it's not a lottery.”

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