Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

INDYCAR Solidifies White Line Rule for Indianapolis 500

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – In the past two Indianapolis 500s, “The Dragon” has been synonymous with the closing laps of the race with drivers weaving back and forth, especially off Turn 2 and Turn 4 in an effort to keep the driver in second place behind them.

First with Marcus Ericsson pulling the move to keep Pato O’Ward behind him in 2022 and then last season when Josef Newgarden flipped the script and used the move against Ericsson to win the race.

The rub came with the aggressiveness of the move, as Newgarden and Ericsson both swerved below the white line denoting the entry to pit road, nearly colliding with the pit attenuator in the process. While legal, INDYCAR officials sat down over the offseason and decided to outlaw the move for this year’s race and others going forward.

On Friday, drivers and teams were given the exact rules that they would have to follow to not get penalized for attempting to execute the move this year.

Per INDYCAR, “Cars that have left-side tires past the dashed line will be penalized unless entering the pit lane, for incident avoidance or in an obvious attempt to avoid a closed pit lane and return to the racetrack.”

Should the infraction occur, race officials have the option of three different penalties they can hand out, including:

  • Drive-through penalty
  • If at the conclusion of the race, a time penalty equal to a drive-through penalty
  • If under yellow condition, the car is ordered to the rear of the restart lineup

“It’s happened quite a bit over the last couple years,” Newgarden said of the genesis of the move. “I think this style of racing really crept in, if you want to date it, probably back to Montoya in 2015 is where it started creeping in.

“It is in response to the style of racing that we have. The way we compete and the way the cars draft is very, very difficult to find an advantage. You can be at points just exposed when you’re sitting in the lead and you have cars behind you.”

“Last year was a combination of historical approach, but also reaction. I mean, I knew immediately when I went into turn three and I saw where Marcus was positioned, he was very tightly tucked behind me, I thought, Man, the opportunity for him to get back behind me before the line was pretty high,” Newgarden explained of how things played out in 2023.

“I knew the rules at that point with the line. They weren’t policing it. You had to use it. The response to change that I think is unanimously liked by everybody. We’ve all wanted it to change. It’s good they’re going to be doing that now.

“I don’t know that it will change the racing style too much, but it will certainly change that little portion.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.