IndyCar denies Hildebrand's fuel tank was illegal
The fuel tank and caution light controversies dogging the end of last month's Indianapolis 500 are without merit, the race's chief steward said Thursday.
Brian Barnhart said he confirmed with Honda, the Izod IndyCar Series' sole engine supplier, that runner-up finisher JR Hildebrand did not use more than the allowable 22 gallons of fuel in the final laps.
The amount of fuel in his Panther Racing machine came under fire this week in a story published by Canada's largest newspaper, the Globe and Mail. The newspaper, which cited unidentified sources, said other teams believe Panther fiddled with the fuel capacity.
Globe and Mail officials later withdrew the story from its website.
This much is known: Hildebrand made his final pit stop on lap 164, the same lap as two-time race winner Dario Franchitti, who was forced to stop for more fuel.
"JR did not use more than 22 gallons to that point," said Barnhart, who declined to reveal the amount used by the No. 4 car. "It's darn close, but he only had to go a few hundred yards more."
Hildebrand crashed in the fourth turn trying to pass the slow lapped car of fellow rookie Charlie Kimball. Hildebrand's crash gave Dan Wheldon time to pass for the lead -- and Wheldon's second win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IndyCar inspected all fuel cells before the race and had them sealed at several points. Hildebrand's car was not inspected after the race because it was damaged.
Panther officials denied they fiddled with the fuel. A statement released by the team called it "a non-issue." Indy Star