Toronto IndyCar race start location to change? (Update)

UPDATE I talked with Mike Kitchel about whether there would be a change to the location of the start of the race. He said that decision would not be made until later today. I think they will gauge the start of the other races today to determine whether the show for the fans is a better option than the drivers' request to make a change for safety reasons. Lucille Dust reporting from Toronto

New Toronto pit lane layout has ruined the track
New Toronto pit lane layout has ruined the 'character' of the track. The best start ever in Toronto? 2007 when it was a standing start.

07/16/16

With the new Toronto track configurations there’s a lot of talk among the IndyCar drivers and race officials about where the start the race on Sunday. Of course if they did standing starts we would not even be having this discussion.

In order to accommodate the new pitlane turns 9 through 11 had to be narrowed so getting the full field thru there 2-wide is impossible. Therefore the start is going to be very ragged if the S/F line remains where it always has been. As they do in Mid-Ohio, they are talking about starting the race on the backstraight where few fans will see it. Again, if they were doing standing starts like real men, we would not be having this discussion, the S/F location can be where it always has been and the full field of cars could do a standing start in front of the grandstands where all the paying customers are.

Crash you say? There is a very good chance they are going to crash at the start anyway.

In a press conference Friday defending race winner Josef Newgarden stated the question came up at the morning driver’s meeting and as of early this afternoon there has been no confirmation as to a final answer as of yet.

"You have to go really really slow to start the race," Newgarden said. He also stated that the majority of the drivers would prefer to begin the race headed towards turn one, than have the field go all the way to the Lake Shore backstretch and try to squeeze into turn three. "It's hard to figure out," Newgarden said of the reconfigured three turns. There are also several concrete patches along the way forcing the drivers to be extra cautious when going hard back on the gas.

A perfect standing start in 2007 at Toronto by real men
A perfect standing start in 2007 at Toronto by real men in real race cars – Champ Cars

Helio Castroneves also stated he would like to see some changes done before the race begins Sunday afternoon. "I would make some change, for sure. The main thing is IndyCar, they always adapt, especially the competitors, the drivers, they always adapt whatever circumstances," he said. "I would make the track wider by moving the walls out. If we have to remove the light poles, to make it a little bit wider, I definitely would do that."

There are also foreseeable problems with the restarts trying to get the field in order before the green flag drops. "I believe first two rows at the least we're going to be able to make it past turn 11. But I think there will be a struggle for three or four rows," Castroneves said.

IndyCar has a very key decision to make and must determine what is not only best for the drivers but for their audience as well. The track changes and the inability of IndyCars drivers to do standing starts have really handcuffed the series’ efforts to produce a safe and exciting start and restarts. The series already minimized pit lane speed to 40 MPH in an attempt to help with the very tight awkward pit lane the drivers have to deal with.

Ultimately the drivers have to deal with what lies ahead, whether they like it or not. "Long Beach is a curved pit lane that sits on an angle," said James Hinchcliffe. "Cars fall over off the jacks. It is what it is. We make it work."

Then make standing starts work James. One bad standing start accident at Indianapolis a couple of years ago and the series and its drivers threw in the towel on standing starts rather than making the changes necessary to make them work. The fans love standing starts, but that wasn't important enough for the series to focus on making the paying customers happy. Maybe that is why they have so few of them.

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