Power Wins, But Controversey Rules Sonoma
“We had a good jump on them coming out and it was strange to see the rear tire man walk straight into our car,” Dixon said. “I haven’t seen bad sportsmanship like that in a long time.
“The championship is still achievable but today we could have cut it down to six. It is what it is and you can’t change that now. We’ll have to race hard and try to win it fair and square.”
Mike Hull is the managing director for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and calls the race for Dixon. He tried to put the entire situation in proper perspective.
“The reason they did what they did is because of the safety of the guys over the wall,” Hull said. “The guys that work on all of our race cars are the most important ingredients we have. In reality, the guy turned his back and carried the tire into Dixon’s sidepod. It has rubber on the top of it. He walked into us. I don’t know what Dixon is supposed to do but apparently he didn’t do what INDYCAR wanted him to do.
“So does that set a precedent for the next race where a guy can walk into a car like that? I hope that is not the case. The most important thing for us is their guy (Law) is OK. We could talk about what could have or should have but the guy is OK and that is the most important thing.
“It’s not a protestable offense so we really have no recourse. It’s like dealing with Royalty or the Deity – what are we going to do about it?
“We’ll just go off to Baltimore.”
IndyCar President of Competition Derrick Walker understood how this penalty could ultimately cost Dixon a change at a third IZOD IndyCar Series championship but strongly believes it was the right call.
“It was purely a safety call,” Walker said. “The box is a very dangerous place in the best of times. The crew guy was in his box – granted he could have moved a lot quicker and got himself out of there – but he was still within his box or zone. When there is a championship or not when you hit a crewmember we can’t do anything else with it, really.
“I would say if we could prove without a shadow of a doubt if that crew member was trying to block him (Dixon) or did something deliberate to impeded him we would not have penalized Scott Dixon.
“It’s an unavoidable tight situation that went wrong and he got a penalty. The crewmember was walking across the car – he wasn’t walking out of his box. And Dixon was not steering away from him.”
For the conspiracy theorists, it happed to be Castroneves’ teammate involved in the incident with his closest championship competitor – Dixon.
“You can have that theory but I’m not going there,” Walker said.
And Barfield wouldn’t go there, either.
“In that context when you start taking too many factors into consideration you get in trouble as a race official,” Barfield said. “If I’m going to be sensitive to the fact somebody is running for the championship or leading the race those are unfair considerations. The reality is if I consider not penalizing that guy because he is in the running for the championship that casts a shadow on that championship because you disadvantage the other guy. I refuse to look at those items when I reviewed this. What kind of statement can we make to keep this pit lane safe? Today there were some items that we responded to that were absolutely what we needed to achieve for pit lane safety.”
Barfield also explained what he saw in reviewing the incident.
“You could see the different between the Target and Verizon signs on the wall and he clearly went into the 12 car’s pit box and that is where the violation occurred,” Barfield said. “If you look at risks versus reward – the risk of hurting somebody in the pit lane of gaining a couple of tenths leaving pit lane is not a risk worth taking. It’s not something we are going to look away from and not penalize guys.
“Ultimately, that guy was in his own space and for him to have the space – we looked at that, too – but he was as close to the other crew members with the car leaving as he could. It was extremely risky so I feel good with the decision that we made in trying to keep the pit lane as safe as it could.”