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Will Power wrong to seek changes to blue flag rules, says Al Unser Jr


IndyCar legend Al Unser Jr has dismissed complaints by current drivers, including Australia’s Will Power, over rules that allow cars being lapped to fight with the leaders.

A furious Power let fly after the season opener in Florida, where backmarker Jimmie Johnson held up Power in the closing stages, preventing the Australian from challenging the leaders.

Power eventually finished third, just 2.4 seconds behind race-winner, Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin.

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McLaughlin and second-placed Alex Palou were also trapped behind Devlin DeFrancesco in the closing laps.

“I didn’t really like that they – especially in the last three laps – didn’t let us pass,” Palou said after the race.

“Yeah, you never want a race to be dictated by the slow cars.”

Power interjected, clearly showing his displeasure.

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“We keep telling IndyCar, and they just keep making changes – oh, no, they don’t. Sorry, I forgot,” he said, sarcastically.

“I’ve been on this for 10 years. When every driver in the driver meeting says we need a blue flag rule, why isn’t there one?

“I’m happy with my result but I’m unhappy with the lack of things that get done … I feel great, but I just like to point out the problems that could be fixed so easily within the series with just a little change.”

Unser Jr, a two-time IndyCar series champion, said Power was fighting a losing battle.

“No, that’s been a problem for 50 or 60 years,” Unser Jr told Wide World of Sports.

“There’s no way around that, you’re always going to have fast cars and slow cars.

“The slow cars have a right to fight to stay on the lead lap, it’s that simple.

“It’s been like this for a long time and I don’t see it changing.”

Unser Jr, who also won the Indy 500 in both 1992 and 1994, explained that drivers are within their rights to avoid being lapped.

“If you go a lap down, it kills your race. You might have had a slow pitstop or a puncture or something, but if you’re just in front of the leaders and they’re about to lap you, and the yellow flag comes out, you get to make all that time back up,” he said.

“Once you go down one lap, now then you don’t have the right to fight.

“Then you’ve got to move over and let the leaders go.

“But if you’re still on the lead lap, you’ve got the right to fight.”

McLaughlin’s maiden victory didn’t come as a surprise to Unser Jr, who was impressed by what he saw in the three-time Supercars champion’s debut season in 2021.

“I did see a result like that coming, because he showed good speed at times last year, and he’s with a great team,” he explained.

“He’s got great talent, for me it was just a matter of time. He’s well on his way now, he’s got a great shot at being really successful in the years to come.

“Great race car drivers can adapt, and Scott McLaughlin is definitely a great race car driver.”

Unser Jr said McLaughlin can “absolutely” contend for the championship this season, pointing out the result will only strengthen the Penske team, which also includes former champions in Power and Josef Newgarden.

“It doesn’t change the dynamics of the team, it only enhances the team,” he said.

“At Penske, there’s no first, second and third drivers. They’re all number one drivers.

“It’s only going to make the team stronger with McLaughlin winning races.”

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