IndyCar may go to green-white-checkered finishes

Green-white-checkered finishes will be given lengthy consideration during the off-season by Izod IndyCar Series officials.

IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield said Wednesday that the two-lap overtime format used in NASCAR will be a topic of conversation among series officials. However, he stopped short of saying the rule will be added in 2013.

"I know there will be a lot of time spent on this in the offseason," Barfield told USA TODAY Sports. "At this state, I don't know or have a feel for how that will turn out. I think it's become a more prevalent issue based on how close our races have been this year."

The green-white-checkered debate re-ignited after the previous two IndyCar races ended under caution. If adopted, the plan likely would be similar to what NASCAR adopted in 2004, when races interrupted by a yellow flag with two laps remaining went to a two-lap, green-white-checkered format to determine the winner. In 2010, the rule was amended to allow three attempts to complete the final two laps.

"It's a very tricky area," Barfield said. "I've seen too many green-white-checkered attempts in other series in which the event was altered significantly with crashes or people running out of fuel. It went beyond what was necessary to get to the finish. … The true racer in me is reluctant to step into that area, but we have to consider what our fans want to see."

Some IndyCar drivers say they are open to the idea of making the end of races more entertaining, while others say the subject should be off limits.

"How do you keep that fair?" Sebastien Bourdais said. "Half of the races have become fuel-strategy races. Everyone is short on fuel, and then you add laps? I don't think that's racing. There's already enough gambling with yellow flags and double-file restarts. How much more do you want to interfere with the racing? How much do you want it to be a product and how much do you want it to be a race?"

Another option, already in the rulebook, is more frequent use of red flags during crashes late in races, as suggested by Mike Hull, managing director for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

"If you have a crash within, say, five laps of the finish, you throw the red, bring everyone into the pits, shut the cars down and don't let anyone touch them," he said. "When the track is cleaned up, you start them up and resume racing to the finish. Then it doesn't fool with the integrity or the Indy-style purist way of racing."

Barfield said the red flag is always on the table in relation to keeping cars running to the finish. It was considered this season at the Indianapolis 500, Detroit and Toronto but was dismissed because the final yellow occurred too late to justify a red-flag stoppage.

"We'd have to have about five laps remaining in order to use the red," Barfield said. "I don't want to be unfair. A red flag wouldn't ensure a race to the checkered flag, but it would be an effort to let the race go green to the checkered flag."

If employed, the rule is more likely to be used at IndyCar's oval races than its road- and street-course races, and modified from the NASCAR rule so races don't go beyond their pre-determined distances. More at USA Today

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