INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan is conflicted over green-white-checkered flag finishes.
Kanaan won his first Indy 500 under caution Sunday in an anticlimactic ending to a thrilling race. There were a record 68 lead changes, with the last one coming when Kanaan slid around Ryan Hunter-Reay on a restart with three laps remaining.
Although NASCAR makes three attempts to finish a race under green even if means going beyond the scheduled distance, the IndyCar Series does not. NASCAR fans and even some commentators immediately took to Twitter to decry the muted ending.
“I’m all about the tradition in this place. That was never done here,” Kanaan said. “I’m not saying that because I won under yellow, because I lost plenty of them under yellow, as well. Especially in a place like this, I think you want to see a finish under green. At the end of the day it’s a race, it’s the rules. People have different opinions.”
IndyCar took the unusual step of red-flagging last year’s season-finale at Fontana to clean up an accident and allow the race to finish under green. Although it made for a better ending to the race, the move was unprecedented and purist race fans panned the decision.
The red-flag at Fontana helped Hunter-Reay clinch his first series championship, but like Kanaan he didn’t know if a green-white-checkered at Indy was appropriate. After Kanaan got around him on the restart, Hunter-Reay slipped to third before the caution and didn’t get a chance to race for the win.
“This is Indy, there’s a certain way things are done,” Hunter-Reay said. “If tradition is tradition, you don’t materialize results. We don’t try to produce results out of green-white-checkereds. It can be a bit gimmicky.”
Hunter-Reay also said IndyCar has fuel mileage concerns that would make the overtime finishes more difficult than NASCAR races.
“Where the green-white-checkered gets a little bit dicey is that you have some cars that gamble on maybe a yellow at the end for fuel, and some cars that don’t,” he said, adding Franchitti’s accident was going to take at least three laps to clean.
“Some cars might not have had enough fuel to finish. We would have had fuel for it. If you can talk them into rolling us back out there, I’d be all for that.”
Kanaan’s victory was the first for manufacturer Chevrolet since 2002, but U.S. vice president of performance vehicle and motorsports Jim Campbell said he wouldn’t have wanted the race to go into overtime. Chevrolet also participates in NASCAR, and Campbell is used to both methods.
“I totally believe in the tradition of the Indianapolis 500 and the rules of the Indianapolis 500, and I respect that, just as I respect the rules of NASCAR,” Campbell said. “Series have rules and we all play by the same rules.”
Winning car co-owner Jimmy Vasser said teams would adapt to whatever IndyCar decides.