LEXINGTON, OH – Every sport has them. You know, the ones that are perfectly legal but are big “no no’s” to do. It’s not like you get punished to violate them, because they’re not in the rule book for you not to do.
Racing has them too. For the NTT IndyCar Series, one of the unwritten rules is you don’t pass the car in front of you at the end of a timed session, especially when given an extra timed lap.
We saw what happens when you do so in Toronto. Sebastien Bourdais was already angry with Takuma Sato from an incident back in June at the Texas Motor Speedway. So, when a late red flag flew in final practice during the Toronto race weekend, the series gave the drivers one extra lap once the debris and cleared from the racing surface.
Bourdais, got his payback on Sato and passed him on track during that final lap. The unwritten rule was broken and Sato took offense to it. The normally calm driver stormed down to Bourdais pit to confront him. The two got into a physical altercation as a result.
Unwritten rule broken and a fight breaks out.
On Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, we saw it again. This time, it was an innocent mistake. That’s why instead of a few drivers coming to blows, it was just a verbal altercation.
It all started when Josef Newgarden got off course with a few minutes to go in the second and final session of the day on Friday in Indy Car practice. The series decided to give the drivers one more timed lap after.
Once we went green, RC Enerson passed Tony Kanaan and a few other cars on track, which led the veteran in Kanaan to storm down to Enerson’s pit to confront him.
“He throws it on the outside of me in Turn 2 and the inside of (Colton) Herta in Turn 1, bumping all of the way, trying to bump (Ryan) Hunter-Reay out of the way? said Kanaan on the incident” “For what? We all get one lap.”
The broadcast asked Kanaan if he thought Enerson broke an unwritten rule, Kanaan scoffed back.
“He’ll learn. Don’t worry about it.”
What about Herta? He also came down to talk to Enerson following the on track incident. He wasn’t as mad as Kanaan though.
“It’s because you’re guaranteed a lap at the end,” Herta said. “It’s kind of like attacking your teammate in a yellow jersey in the Tour de France. It’s a gentleman’s sport in that sense.
“So, yeah, once you get out of the pit lane for your 45 seconds, you’re guaranteed a lap at that point. You can take however long you want. It screws you when somebody passes you on the out lap, it backs you up, the car maybe behind you is backed up, so…”
Herta, didn’t think Enerson, who hasn’t been in an Indy Car race weekend since 2016 fully understood the new unwritten rule though. That’s why he wasn’t as upset as a veteran was.
“I don’t think he fully understood the rule that once you leave the pit lane within the time allotment, I think 45 seconds, you get your lap guaranteed in at the end,” Herta continued. “You just pass him. He made a lot of guys pass him, including me.
“So, yeah, I talked to him after. I think he just didn’t understand that was the rule. I think he thought there was a certain amount of time you had to get to the start/finish line beforehand. I wasn’t super upset because we already had our new tire run in when we were going to go fastest. We were only really going to have one lap at the end.
“I was just talking to him, telling him the rules. I don’t think he understood. I think the team was telling him to go, from what he said. You know, I think Tony (Kanaan) was pretty upset. I wasn’t too much.”
Simon Pagenaud admitted that it’s a tough situation at the end for drivers. With so many cars going for the same pieces of real estate, getting a clean lap is virtually difficult.
“You’re always going to get someone at some point,” Pagenaud said of the situation. “I didn’t get anyone in the session, but it’s going to happen.
“It is what it is. At the end of the day, it’s about you should have done your lap earlier anyways. Yeah, people get excited. People get frustrated sometimes. It’s racing. I love it. I just love to see this stuff. Tension is high. It’s great. It’s the end of the season. I think that’s what you guys want to see, as well. It’s great for the sport.”
Enerson though, admitted that while he knew the rule, but was following team orders. He said that his team requested to warm up the tires quicker and that he needed to go. Unfortunately, no one in front of Enerson was going as quick as he needed to. So, he went and unfortunately, it pissed some peers off.