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Josef Newgarden

Source: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment / other

INDIANAPOLIS — In the days leading up to IndyCar contend days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, several veteran drivers say they had dinner with some executives with Penske Entertainment where they discussed some possible rule changes.

What those discussions covered in particular is being kept under wraps by both Penske and the drivers, but they were able to give some hints as to what they might like to see happen with the series and the Indy 500 moving forward.

“The Indy 500 I believe we should have some sort of — in my opinion, some sort of, if you’re five laps to go or three laps to go or one lap to go, we should draw a line,” said four-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.

“I would say last year was kind of unexpected,” he continued. “I remember going through the field, and the green flag was thrown, and I was still in Turn 3. It was sort of like rushed.”

Castroneves refers to the unorthodox, yet entertaining, ending to the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 in which the race was red-flagged due to a crash with two laps to go. Instead of doing a formation lap out of the pits, IndyCar held the caution for half a lap and then threw the green leaving the field to a last lap sprint to the finish.

Josef Newgarden made the pass on Marcus Ericsson in that last lap to take the race. Ericsson was animated after what happened saying the race should not have ended like that.

After several months, Ericsson was sheepish on that particular subject when asked about it, instead focusing on calls to regulate hard swerving to forming what has become known as “the dragon” in order to break the draft to the car behind.

On that last lap last year, Newgarden swerved all the way below the pit entry lane and back up onto the racing surface.

The swerving there, I think it’s going to be hard to police that, especially at the end of the race,” said Ericsson, who was also guilty of swerving below pit entry on occasion. “People are going to do whatever it takes to win that race.”

Ericsson did say he wants better clarity on the rules for situations within five laps to go.

There is also a level of uncertainty still floating over the 2024 season as it pertains to the introduction of the new hybrid engine at some point after the Indy 500.

Graham Rahal, who also attended the dinner, says many of the drivers came away from the discussion with a good feeling going forward.

“I think it validated a lot of things I was already thinking were happening,” Rahal said. “There’s stuff you’ll hear about soon I can’t speak about that I think are major positives for the sport. Are there things that you would like to see different? Sure. We all have opinions.”