Sports

Chip Ganassi wants to see an end to yellow caution Indy 500 finishes

The century-old Indianapolis 500 is steeped in tradition, from the pre-race release of thousands of balloons to the winner's gulp of milk in Victory Lane.

But Chip Ganassi, one of racing's leading team owners, thinks Indy has one tradition too many.

The Indianapolis 500 should stop letting its races end under the yellow caution flag, as it did last year when Tony Kanaan won, Ganassi said Friday.

The 200,000-plus spectators who watch the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway deserve to see the race finish at full speed under green-flag conditions, he said.

IndyCar should follow the lead of NASCAR, which a decade ago adopted a "green-white-checkered" format, essentially a two-lap overtime finish if the race reaches its scheduled end under caution, Ganassi said.

The Indy 500 "should have a green-white-checkered," Ganassi said during his meeting with reporters next to the strip of bricks at the start-finish line, a holdover from the track's old surface.

Ending a race under caution is "a complete letdown to the fans who are on-site," he said. "That's something that other series have adopted that we need to adopt. I don't give a damn about tradition on some things. On other things I do, but on that I don't."

Ganassi's IndyCar drivers are Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe. Ganassi also owns a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.

Three of the last six Indy 500s have been won by Ganassi drivers: Dixon in 2008 and Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012. Franchitti retired after last season because of an injury and was replaced by Kanaan.

Ganassi isn't alone in supporting an overtime finish at the Indy 500. Social media erupted after last year's race with many fans expressing their frustration that the race ended under caution.

The 2013 race featured a record 68 lead changes and more were expected in the final laps. But with three laps left and Kanaan — then driving for another team — in the lead, Franchitti crashed and brought out the yellow flag.

That froze the field and, without enough time left to clean the track and restart the race under its scheduled 200 laps, Kanaan and the other cars crossed the finish line at slow speed under yellow.

Ganassi was asked how others in the sport view the matter. "It's half and half," he said. "You have a group of progressives and a group of traditionalists. It's at every level: Teams, owners, executives, officials, fans."

Kanaan himself said Friday he had mixed feelings about using overtime at Indy. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I don't make the rules. I try to follow them."

Kurt Busch's 'double'

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, who plans to be the fourth driver to attempt racing in the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, was 15th fastest in final practice Friday.

Busch drove a backup car prepared by his Andretti Autosport team at Indianapolis after crashing hard into the Turn 2 wall in the previous practice.

"Just had to get back up on my horse," said Busch, who starts 12th Sunday. "I was a bit anxious to get back in the car and to see how I was going to feel.

"I didn't lose my confidence," he continued. "I just need to make sure I didn't over-adjust the car when I got back in traffic. I'd give [the practice] a 'B' overall."

Busch was asked what he would consider an acceptable finish in the Indy 500, and he replied: "Top half of the field is what I'm shooting for."

If Busch drives in both races, he would join Tony Stewart — who co-owns Busch's NASCAR team — along with John Andretti and Robby Gordon as drivers who did "the double."

Indy Lights race

In IndyCar's second-tier Indy Lights series, Gabby Chaves won Friday's Freedom 100 race at Indianapolis.

Rookie Matthew Brabham finished a close second and Zach Veach was third.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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