IMS and IndyCar owner joins insider Nathan Brown on a special edition of Pit Pass Live. Indianapolis Star


IndyCar’s season-opener at Texas Motor Speedway recorded high viewership marks on NBC and saw Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon and his No. 9 Honda outlast teammate Felix Rosenqvist then drive away from the field.

But Saturday wasn’t seamless – even for the Honda-backed teams.

According to Honda Racing PR director Dan Layton, three Honda drivers – Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal – were victims of the effects of IndyCar’s social distancing rules.

With the 23 cars lined up in pit lane waiting to roll out, the No. 15, 27 and 28 entries couldn’t keep their engines roaring. All three had issues that stemmed from the electrical control unit that has direct control over the car’s ignition, injection, turbo and throttle. After qualifying in the top third of the field, all three immediately fell to the back.

As Layton explained, the Honda technicians (as well as those from Chevy) that, on a normal race day, would be stationed on pit road to assist in firing up the 13 Honda engines, weren’t allowed over the wall. The regulation was supposed to aid in the series’ social distancing guidelines that permitted no more than 20 total team members per driver to travel to TMS Saturday.

In such confined spaces around the entries – even outdoors and with everyone wearing masks – IndyCar had done its best to eliminate all unnecessary interactions in hopes of bringing everyone 真人百家家乐官网网站home safely from the track.

“But that’s a glitch that happens about once every 10 times,” Layton said. “And our guys know how to, essentially, hit ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ and reset things within seconds. But the folks on the teams don’t.”

For a moment, IndyCar delayed the rollout from the grid in hopes that the three drivers and their teams would find an immediate fix. None was found.

Honda was granted permission from IndyCar to plug into the three cars to reset them, but only in violation of the impound rule that had the cars completely set aside immediately following qualifying runs, ensuring that the exact car setup drivers qualified with would be how they would start the race.

Hunter-Reay and Rossi were, in turn, given pit lane drive-through penalties, which they served in the early laps of the race while already a lap or two down. Because Rahal had to have his car wheeled from the grid in order to get it to fire, he also had to stop-and-go on his drive-through penalty. Additionally, Rossi had to cycle around a second time after speeding through pit lane.

Rahal and Rossi have combined for four podiums at Texas over the last four years (including Rahal’s win in 2016), and Hunter-Reay finished fifth in 2018 and 2019 making it a gut-punch of a start to the season.

“I said to the guys that the car was built perfectly. The car was fast today,” Rahal said.

Added Hunter-Reay, who still managed to finish on the lead lap in eighth: “I’m not really sure why the cartoon anvil keeps dropping on the No. 28, but it’s definitely getting old. We had a good car to represent our partners and our teammates great today, but we were robbed.”

More coverage from Texas:

  • Scott Dixon dominates at Texas Motor Speedway, wins IndyCar's return to action
  • Insider: Why IndyCar lef lapped cars alone on final restart in Genesys 300
  • What it was like for IndyCar's opener at Texas Motor Speedway to run without fans
  • NBC delivers IndyCar's most-watched non-Indy 500 since 2016 in season-opener

Email IndyStar motor sports reporter Nathan Brown at @By_NathanBrown.

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