IndyCar needs to implement the ‘Lucky Dog’ ASAP (Update)

UPDATE A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1, The author of this article, Matt Weaver, apparently does not actually watch IndyCar oval races or he would know that indeed IndyCar oval race re-starts, other than Indy, are double file not ‘single file’ as he states in his article.

While IndyCar does not have a ‘Lucky Dog’, ‘Lucky Poodle’, or other rule to shuffle cars the pace car picked up in front of the leaders to the back even the NASCAR rule Mr. Weaver cites would not help the situation he complains and writes about. The NASCAR 'Lucky Dog’ requires those cars in front of the leader of the race, and ONLY those cars in front of the leader not lapped cars in back of the leader, to be given the ‘wave around’ to cycle them out of the position they have on the track in front of the leader. The pace car driver waves the cars in front of the leader past the pace car, giving them a free lap or a ‘lap back’ however once the pace car has the leader directly behind the pace car there are no more cars waved around. Therefore, even a ‘Lucky Dog’ rule would not have moved Kanaan or Carpenter from the track position they had. Additionally, IndyCar is not NASCAR and tradition is only broken for good reason (such as fan preference, to make the race/show better, safety, etc.).

The eventual winner of the Milwaukee race, RHR, also had back markers to deal with in earning his win if the author would only watch the race as on the lap 108 restart both Beatrice and Jakes were a lap down but in front of Hunter-Reay on that restart separating him from Sato and Castroneves. Hunter-Reay quickly dispatched both back markers either because his car was set up to allow closely following and passing cars, because of his skill, or a combination of factors. Passing lapped cars and back makers is part of the race.

IndyCar in its wisdom decided to break with tradition a few years ago in an effort to ensure lapped cars did not affect the outcome of a race not only for the leaders but for all positions as IndyCar moves all lapped cars to the back of the line on restarts with ten laps or less remaining.

If I had the power to make one rule change in IndyCar it would be to adopt ChampCar’s rule of mandatory pit stops within a three lap window. That would immediately result in a race that is much much easier for not only the casual fan but the most ardent and knowledgeable fans to follow as it would eliminate entirely ‘out of sequence’ cars giving the false appearance they are running up front or leading, it would eliminate ‘Lucky’ yellows artificially affecting many races, it would eliminate ‘fuel economy’ races and would result in all the drivers having to drive flat out as fast as they had the skill to do for the entire race and the cars would always appear in their correct and actually running order. Stuart Reinhgold, New York, NY

06/16/13 The final restart of Saturday's IndyCar race at Milwaukee was marred by lapped drivers defending against the leaders. This wouldn't happen if IndyCar featured a free pass.

While it's only going to be a problem on short tracks, something has to be done about lapped cars restarting within the middle of the lead pack in the IndyCar Series.

IndyCar restarts are single-wide on ovals and do not feature a free pass when the caution comes out.
As a result, the pace car will often trap cars at the tail end of the lead lap, in front of the leaders, and cars recently placed a lap down will sometimes restart right in the middle of the lead pack.

That was the case on Saturday at Milwaukee when lapped drivers Ed Carpenter and Tony Kanaan restarted right in the middle of the top-10 group with 30 laps to go. Carpenter defended his position in front of Power on the restart, drawing his frustration while Kanaan did the same thing to Scott Dixon a little further down the line.
The lap traffic behind leader Ryan Hunter-Reay allowed him to escape to a four-second lead within laps and the race was virtually over as soon as the lapped cars held up Hunter-Reay's pursuers.

The truth of the matter is that Carpenter and Kanaan had little business defending their positions on that restart. They were running a completely different race at that point and it was unlikely that they were going to get their lap back.

And I believe it negatively affected the outcome of what had been a very exciting race.

But more importantly, from my vantage point, there is no good counterargument to support the status quo. Rarely will a lapped car successfully retake their lap on a restart and more often than not, that driver only acts as a blocker for the cars trying to fight for the lead. Over the course of a long run, these cars often fall to the back anyway, where they arguably should have restarted in the first place.

While it will not be a popular opinion to most of IndyCar's traditional fan base, the most logical solution is to place each of the lapped cars at the tail end of the field in each restart and offer the first car a free pass. Yes, the Lucky Dog. I'm not suggesting this because it's what NASCAR does but rather because it's the right thing — which is why NASCAR offered it in the first place. More at

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