INDIANAPOLIS -- The century-old Indianapolis 500 is steeped in tradition, from the pre-race release of thousands of balloons to the winner's gulp of milk in Victory Lane.
But Chip Ganassi, one of racing's leading team owners, thinks Indy has one tradition too many.
The Indianapolis 500 should stop letting its races end under the yellow caution flag, as it did last year when Tony Kanaan won, Ganassi said.
The 200,000-plus spectators who watch the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway deserve to see the race finish at full speed under green-flag conditions, he said.
IndyCar should follow the lead of NASCAR, which a decade ago adopted a "green-white-checkered" format, essentially a two-lap overtime finish if the race reaches its scheduled end under caution, Ganassi said.
The Indy 500 "should have a green-white-checkered," Ganassi said during his meeting with reporters next to the strip of bricks at the start-finish line, a holdover from the track's old surface.
Ending a race under caution is "a complete letdown to the fans who are on-site," he said. "That's something that other series have adopted that we need to adopt. I don't give a damn about tradition on some things. On other things I do, but on that I don't."
Ganassi's IndyCar drivers are Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe. Ganassi also owns a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team with drivers Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
Three of the last six Indy 500s have been won by Ganassi drivers: Dixon in 2008 and Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012. Franchitti retired after last season because of an injury and was replaced by Kanaan.
Ganassi isn't alone in supporting an overtime finish at the Indy 500. Social media erupted after last year's race with many fans expressing their frustration that the race ended under caution.
The 2013 race featured a record 68 lead changes and more were expected in the final laps. But with three laps left and Kanaan -- then driving for another team -- in the lead, Franchitti crashed and brought out the yellow flag.
That froze the field and, without enough time left to clean the track and restart the race under its scheduled 200 laps, Kanaan and the other cars crossed the finish line at slow speed under yellow.
Ganassi was asked how others in the sport view the matter. "It's half and half," he said. "You have a group of progressives and a group of traditionalists. It's at every level: Teams, owners, executives, officials, fans."
Kanaan himself said Friday he had mixed feelings about using overtime at Indy. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I don't make the rules. I try to follow them."
(c)2014 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services