The IZOD IndyCar Series management has moved quickly to deal with team and fan dissatisfaction about the penalty that was handed out to Scott Dixon at Sonoma last Sunday.
With immediate effect from this weekend’s race at Baltimore, there will be changes to the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook and to the way that pit boxes are marked out on pit road. The changes follow ,a mid-race incident on pit lane last weekend in which the #9 Ganassi car was handed a drive-thru after clipping a crew member working in the Penske pits.
Dixon’s pit box had been right behind that of Will Power’s on pit road, and he was finished and pulling out before Power had completed his own stop on lap 64. Penske crewmember Travis Law was carrying the worn right rear wheel away from Power’s car, and Dixon’s left rear sidepod hit the tyre that Law was carrying with sufficient force to flip him into the air. When he came down he collected a second member of the Penske crew, although neither man was seriously hurt in the incident.
However the rulebook clearly stated that Dixon was to be handed a drive-thru penalty for hitting a crewmember in another team’s pit stall, and as a result he lost the lead of the race which was eventually won by Power. The controversial call was made by race director Beaux Barfield, who made no apologies afterwards for his decision.
“Ultimately, we have a duty to protect everybody in the pit lane,” Barfield said. “If we have somebody who uses less than great judgement when they leave their pit box and we have an incident, then we have to make a statement by penalizing. And we’re going to make that call.”
The Ganassi team was furious and alleged that Law had deliberately positioned himself and the tyre he was carrying to make it as difficult as possible for Dixon to exit his pit stall.
“It looks like he walked straight into our car,” fumed Dixon after the race. ” You could see where the other car in front of us was pitted and he walked into us, on purpose. That’s probably the most blatant thing I’ve seen in a long time.
“If you watch most pit guys, they try and get out of the way of other people,” he continued. “I had a straight line heading out of the pits and he just walked right into us. You also look at the calls people make and what they did in Race Control so I look forward to hearing what that was all about. The consistency here is horrible.”
Part of the issue was that the lines marked out on pit road were for other racing series and did not correspond to the actual allocations laid out by IndyCar. As a result it looked to TV viewers as though the rear of the #12 was right on the rear line dividing the two pit boxes, and that Law had therefore intrided into the Ganassi pit box and was blatantly holding the tyre out in Dixon’s path, while other camera angles confirmed that he was still completely within the Penske area as he was entitled to be.