"This is the centennial of the Indianapolis 500 and I'm really fed up with talking about double-file restarts," the 2010 race winner Dario Franchitti said on Friday.
Other than the "will she stay or will she go" eternal saga surrounding Danica Patrick, the story of the last two weeks has been whether or not the Indy 500 will feature the controversial double file restarts brought in to IndyCar at the start of the season, with drivers lobbying IndyCar officials hard to see them dropped.
But on the day before the race, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was insistent and confirmed that double-file restarts will
be featured in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing from noon on Sunday - although some extra precautions have also been put in place to address concerns.
"Obviously during the first couple of races we've seen some incidents on the street course," said Alex Tagliani after the drivers' Friday pre-race meeting, which IndyCar series director of competition Brian Barnhardt had also been asked to attend. "Here we don't want to see anything like that, so basically share our concerns and hope that everything's going to go well during the race."
A major concern is the build up of marbles off the racing line, which might make it unstable for cars required to run out of that groove at the restart. On a high speed oval, wandering onto the marbles can be a very fast way of proceeding directly into the wall.
Numerous drivers were said to have spoken out against the restarts being double file at Indianapolis, with Taglini - the man with most to lose, starting on pole - calling it "really stupid" and "a terrible idea,", Franchitti fearing it will turn the race into a "lottery", and Dan Wheldon saying it could result in the race "being remembered for all the wrong reasons."
But Bernard and Barnhardt were insistent - although several measure have been put in place to alleviate concerns, with new procedures being introduced.
These require that cars start lining up off turn 2 down the back straight and leave three car lengths between rows, with cars to be in second gear as they pass the restart line off turn 4 which should cap speeds in the 115-120mph range, resulting in speeds of around 150mph as they cross the actual start/finish line for the green flag which is the first point where they are allowed to change positions. Experts calculate that this puts the cars at around 183mph into turn 1 itself.
IndyCar spokeswoman Amy Konrath also announced this week that the Speedway is doubling up the number of track sweepers to deal with the off-line marble build-up, with two trucks being used to clear turns 1 and 2 in tandem, and two more in 3 and 4; Previously only two trucks were used on Race Day.