TSO Feature – Just the facts version of the Lap 18 pack-up / non pack up issue with INDYCAR’s response

On Lap 13, with just over 50-minutes remaining in the 75-minute race, Marco Andretti was the first driver to come to pit road to put on slick Firestone Firehawk Primary (Blacks) racing tires.

The third-generation driver had an adventurous out-lap with multiple ‘crazy hands’ moments, but was able to keep it off the concrete walls.

The Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco and Curb Agajanian driver’s first lap at speed was 107 seconds; his second hot lap dropped to 104 seconds and his third at 101 seconds. That was the same pace as the leaders, and much quicker than the drivers Andretti was chasing.

Five other drivers, Santino Ferrucci, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Spencer Pigot, Zach Veach, and Josef Newgarden, came to pit road for slicks before the caution flag came out for Ed Jones on Lap 18.

Pit road opened and the 16 drivers that had yet to pit headed to pit road.

The running order after everybody had cycled through was: Newgarden, Rossi, Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Rosenqvist, Sato, Pagenaud, Hinchcliffe, Pigot, Herta, Veach, Bourdais, O’Ward, Ferrucci, Ericcson, Kanaan, Chilton, Leist, Andretti, Power, and Jones.

The pits opened before the field was fully able to pack-up, negating an advantage for the five drivers who pitted, who ended up:

  • Newgarden -1st
  • Hunter-Reay – 4th
  • Pigot -9th
  • Veach 11th,
  • Ferrucci -14th
  • Andretti – 20th

The pit road delta on The Raceway at Belle Isle is shortest of the season at around 22 seconds, but if the pack-up had occurred as is standard, the above drivers would have still restarted first through sixth.

The response from those surrounding the No. 98 entry came quickly after the first Chevrolet Dual I ended.

Mega thanks to Jim Ayello from the IndyStar for getting Michael and Marco on the record after the race.

Post-race quote from Michael Andretti to Jim Ayello:

Link to tweet

Post race quote from Marco Andretti to Jim Ayello:

Link to tweet

Marco Andretti tweet:

Link to tweet

Link to tweet

Bryan Herta also said in a later tweet that the call to pit for slicks was Marco’s himself.

Those affiliated with Andretti wern’t the only ones that were upset. So far, we’ve heard from Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci who said:

“We had an OK start, you can’t really pass in the rain at the start because you can’t see, so we weren’t really able to move up. Then, we pit early for dry tires and we thought that we’d be able to move up the field when the yellow came out, but the cars in front of me didn’t pack up and that set us back in the field. Nothing really went our way today, there’s nothing we could really do other than now prepare for Race 2 tomorrow and hope for a better result aboard our #19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda.”

and Zach Veach, who said:

“It was a rollercoaster day. Qualifying was good – we lined up eighth, but then I made a mistake on the pace lap and spun with the wet conditions. We went back to 22nd for the start and worked our way up. Great strategy from the team to get me back towards the top 10 and then I passed cars one by one on restarts. [Colton] Herta and I, I think, put on a good show together for three corners – it was hairy. I think we could have been higher; we kind of got hurt by conditions. We should have restarted third or fourth, but they didn’t pack the field up, so we got hurt there. But, all-in-all to come away with a top 10 after starting 22nd – I’m pretty happy with it.”

If we hear from the other drivers or teams, we’ll update this story.

The response from INDYCAR

Race control was reviewing data and closing rates and based off the information the pack-up was developing. The goal was to get the pits open as quickly as possible for the competitors and fans, but given the circumstances that included cars on different tires and a cold track it did not occur as expediently as was envisioned.