Penske, Gossage lobby for change

Updated: June 4, 2010, 1:38 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- IndyCar officials are considering a change to double-file restarts for the series, similar to the rule NASCAR adopted one year ago.

Team owner Roger Penske and Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage are in favor of the change. They talked to IRL officials about the possibility two weeks ago. Brian Barnhart, the IRL president of competition, confirmed the conversation.

"We have discussed it with Roger," Barnhart said Friday. "We are open to the possibility of double-file restarts. Right now, we're exploring all possible scenarios and taking a look at how they could play out and affect an event."

NASCAR adopted the new rule last season, allowing all the cars on the lead lap to start in front of lapped cars on every restart during a race.

Gossage said he and Penske lobbied for the change on a recent conference call with IRL chief executive officer Randy Bernard.

"I was hoping we could get this changed in time for our race [the Firestone 550] here [Saturday] night," Gossage said. "Roger and I both want to see this happen. We're pushing hard for it.

"Roger said he knows he will cause him to wreck some cars, but he knows it will add excitement for the fans. The driver that's fourth should line up fourth on a restart, not 15th because a bunch of lapped cars are in front of him."

Gossage said Bernard gave no indication one way or the other whether how he felt about the idea. Team owner Chip Ganassi also was on the conference call, Gossage said, but Ganassi expressed no opinion either way.

"I would think if he was against it, he would have said so," Gossage said. "We haven't heard an answer, but I wrote another e-mail to Bernard this week to try to get this done. We need this."

Double-file restarts have added excitement to the NASCAR events, but it also has added danger and flared tempers at the end of races. It increased the likelihood of an accident with the leap-lap drivers aggressively vying for spots next to each other in the final laps.

Danica Patrick, who has competed in Nationwide Series events this season with double-file restarts, thinks it's worth considering for IndyCar.

"As a driver, it probably serves you really well or really badly," Patrick said Friday. "It adds time on the race, that's for sure.

"But it's exciting. I think the [IndyCar] series needs to be open-minded about making things more interesting for the fans. If they don't watch, we don't have sponsors on the cars and would have nowhere to go."

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter