IndyCar studying double-file restarts

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Forced to accept the new double-file restarts, IndyCar Series drivers are at least getting a say in how they are implemented.

Brian Barnhart, IndyCar's president of competition and operations, said he spent about three hours Thursday with a three-driver advisory group discussing the restart issue that has generated complaints from drivers but brought an extra dose of excitement for the fans at St. Petersburg.

Then all 26 drivers discussed options for Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in a 20-minute meeting Friday with Barnhart.

"The whole thing's a learning process for everyone involved," he said. "It's a pretty radical change from how things have happened and have been done for over a decade.

"To some extent, you're trying to shove a square pin into a round hole. You're going to have to adapt and improvise."

Cones were set up at 200, 300 and 400 feet from the start/finish line in Friday's practice sessions, marking out possible spots where drivers could accelerate on restarts.

Barnhart said a final decision would be made Sunday morning.

"The things we're looking at are where the restart line is, what the speed is, where we start forming them up into the double-file formation, how we communicate to them the information," Barnhart said.

At St. Pete, there were four full-course cautions in the first 14 laps, with five cars running into trouble on the opening turn.

"Talking to the majority of the drivers, we don't like this double-file restart thing because of the encounters it causes, but at the end of the day we can make it work by giving each other respect and room," said Will Power, who had the fastest practice lap Friday. "The way it is right now, maybe if we go a little earlier it will spread things out.

"The more you spread them out, the safer it is."

Scott Dixon said he and his fellow drivers have to take some responsibility during the restarts, too, even when their competitive juices are flowing.

"I think it's one of those learning processes, if we change a few things and the drivers actually listen to the changes," Dixon said. "The problem is, when the green flag goes, we all get a bit stupid."

Drivers Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan are in the advisory group. Barnhart said more than half of the drivers have participated in an email exchange to make the restarts work.

"We probably got better exchange of ideas information and understanding of what needs are from both points of view than we ever have," he said.