INDYCAR updates start procedures at Portland to hopefully avoid Turn 1 chaos

Death. Taxes. Crash in Turn 1, Lap 1 of the Grand Prix of Portland. It happened again last year and this time, ironically enough helped those that were involved. Still, when we come back here this weekend, we have to know that a crash could occur and could do so at any spot in the field. I mean this one happened with the guys up front. Since we’ve came back here in 2018, we’ve had an opening lap crash in the first corner every time.

I mean the situation isn’t a good design. From a wide front stretch with a lot of real estate to work with on a straightaway that span 2,450 feet to then dive into a tight right hand corner and a quick left after.

“There’s always room on the inside,” said Power. “They’re used to braking on the very outside of the track, it’s super wide. Obviously [on the inside] your 90 degrees is going to be much sharper. You’re going to have to brake much earlier than you have been. I think that’s most of the issue.

“Yeah, it’s a super wide straight that leads into a first-gear corner. It’s similar to Indianapolis. Honestly, at Indianapolis road course the same thing happens. But, yeah, this one in particular.

“Someone is going to get a good run, I’ve got a good run. There’s always room on the inside. They’re used to braking on the very outside of the track. It’s super wide. Obviously your 90 degrees is going to be much sharper. You’re going to have to brake much earlier than you have been. I think that’s most of the issue.

“Yeah, such a bad corner. Such an inviting, wide corner. Not ideal for the second-to-last race of the season.”

With 25 cars fighting for the same spots, nothing good can come out of it. With massive championship implications for Portland, I’m curious who gets through Turn 1 unscathed at the start and who doesn’t. 

Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson each start midpack in 16th and 18th respectively. They could be right in the thick of it. So could Josef Newgarden who has that 6 position grid penalty and will go from a front row starting spot to 8th. That’s 3 drivers right in the heat of things. 

“It’s definitely the most unpredictable turn in the series,” Newgarden said. “I can tell you that. When it goes according to plan, it’s fine. More times than not, that doesn’t happen.”

However, INDYCAR has made a chance to the start procedure allowing Scott McLaughlin and Will Power to accelerate exiting Turn 12. That’s in hopes of spreading out the field entering Turn 1. 

While they’ll be going faster, it also could create some space in a way that the cars behind will be slowing in Turn 12 before accelerating themselves. 

The alternative was having everyone on the front straight in hopes of a slower Turn 1 entry but in seen in support races, that is creating more havoc. 

“We gave them input at the Christmas meetings,” said Power. “We suggested that they start on the back straight. I’m not sure where starting extremely late came from. I could understand you don’t get the tow effects, getting up to speed to get a tow effect.

“But if you had half the field in turn 12 when you went green, that’s half the cars that are spreading out. Might be better to go really early.”

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