— There is nothing worse than watching an auto race that is going to be determined by fuel mileage. IZOD IndyCar is trying to alleviate that problem.
Occasionally there’s a race where pit and fuel strategy are critical factors in determining a winner, but too many times fuel economy dictates who wins.
NASCAR races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono, Kansas and other tracks always seem to come down to the driver who stretches fuel for the most laps. The announcers proclaim the fuel window in a certain number of laps, and then a driver and team push that window for the victory. Makes one wonder if some extra fuel was hidden somewhere.
IndyCar announced Monday that the race distance for four events was being changed in an effort to discourage fuel-mileage racing. After all, the drivers are supposed to race flat out and not hold back in an effort to get every mile per gallon out of the car.
Three of the races with altered distances are either a street or road course. Long Beach will see a decrease of five laps to 80, St. Petersburg will be extended by 10 laps to 110 and Mid-Ohio will be increased by five laps to a 90-lap distance.
The race at the Milwaukee Mile will be lengthened by 25 laps to make it 250.
According to IndyCar, the new distances better match traditional fuel windows on each circuit.
“Changing the distances at these races will hopefully eliminate the strategy of saving fuel from the drop of the green flag,” IZOD IndyCar Series race director Beaux Barfield said. “That will enable our teams and drivers to race hard for the full distance and improve the event’s entertainment value for the fans.”
Since St. Petersburg is the first race of the 2013 season, it will be interesting to see if the increased distance has the desired impact.
Ken de la Bastide is a auto racing columnist for The Kokomo (ind.) Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.