At last weekend’s Music City Grand Prix, there was a red flag thrown late in the race due to a pile-up that happened just as the race was being resumed from a caution period.

As drivers aggressively dove beside one another to try to gain a quick position in the final turn before the finish line, some were pushed out to the dirty side of the track and ended up crashing into the concrete wall.

The additional stoppage meant that Scott McLaughlin had three fewer laps to try to make a pass on Kyle Kirkwood for the win, and he was not happy about the situation after the race.

He was outwardly frustrated and explained that if IndyCar mandated no passing until drivers cross the finish line, this type of situation with successive yellow, or red, flag periods could be minimized.

“I just think from a sport perspective, though, the restarts are a joke,” said McLaughlin unprompted after the race. “I think we need to start on the start/finish line. We cannot pass until the start/finish line.

“You’re always going to have these yellows. You’re always going to have these clusters that cause red flags and make us look like… Yeah, there’s no cadence. Once there’s a yellow flag on a street circuit, it’s just a free-for-all.

“If we want to have a pure race, we could have had a 10-lap shootout, me and Kyle [Kirkwood] there at the end. Instead we’re stop, start, stop, start. The action is fantastic. We just have no race.

“I think when it goes green, there’s kamikazes at the back that don’t care. [They are] well within their right to throw it inside when it turns green. That’s fine. But we just have this terrible just stop, start, amateurish looking finish to races.”

Having a second incident just as racing is resumed from a caution period is not uncommon, in IndyCar and other racing series.

There is even an adage that ‘cautions breed cautions’ precisely due to the fact that the drivers are lined back up in close proximity before racing is resumed, and the opportunity to gain positions is sometimes too enticing.

Drivers look at restarts as an opportunity to gain a couple quick positions. Photo: Kevin Dejewski

The restart zone was relocated for this year’s running of the Nashville event specifically to try avoid the type of incident that occurred.

The leader was allowed to resume racing between turns 9 and 10, and IndyCar’s rules allow passing to happen from then onward.

Some other series force drivers to wait until they cross the finish line and start a new lap before a pass can be made, and that is the way McLaughlin feels IndyCar should be officiated as well.

“I’m going to speak to [IndyCar President Jay Frye] about it, and [race director Kyle] Novak,” continued McLaughlin. “We just need to go apex last corner or start/finish line. Just make a point where you can’t pass, just to get it going.

“Look, I might be wrong. I might crash in turn 1. What I’m saying, I’ve done it in [Australian] Supercars. Formula 1 does it. Other sports around the world do it. It just gets the race going.

“Everyone is on cold tires. Someone is going to have a mistake. The guy behind him is going to go, I have a crack. People getting hurt. Rah-rah. I just think it looks amateurish, it really does.”

The way in which restarts are officiated has been a talking point between drivers and race officials in recent offseason breaks, but no major changes have been introduced as a result.

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