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DATE News (chronologically)
08/31/11
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More upset people over IndyCar officiating  UPDATE #3 Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The letter below from a fan where they say ‘If anything, he (Pantano) should have been dropped one spot behind Bourdais’ and ‘Unprofessional: Barnhart must be canned’ is another example of the blind (Reinbold) leading the blind (fans that are not knowledgeable about the rules).  The fan can certainly be forgiven, but not Reinbold.

Dennis Reinbold is a team owner and the entrant of IndyCar No.# 22 and subject to the rules and regulations of IndyCar.  Reinbold is the one that should be sanctioned and fined for bringing the series into disrepute, just the same as Will Power received for visually doing the same thing Reinbold has done verbally with the rarely seen ‘double bird’ salute.

Reinbold says he doesn’t like ‘getting screwed’. 

Well I don’t like Reinbold screwing IndyCar by totally misrepresenting the rules and the facts simply because his driver was correctly penalized.  Instead of taking his criticisms and allegations behind closed doors to both Barnhart and Bernard, as a professional would do and as he is required to do by the rules, instead he does his own version of the double bird by bringing the series into disrepute.  He whines to the public and intentionally misleads fans not knowledgeable about the intricacies of the actual rules.

For Mr. Reinbold’s edification IndyCar did away with the 'give up the position' blocking penalty as of 2010. Anytime a driver has been called for blocking since the start of the 2010 season until today it is a drive through.  IndyCar eliminated the 'give up the position' so there would be consistency in the penalties, that is specifically so one driver didn’t get a drive through and another was only ordered to give up the position.  Consistency is what everyone is demanding, yet when it is applied you have a team owner trying to take advantage of the ‘lynch Barnhart’ sentiment for his own advantage and stir up the fans with disinformation.

Pantano was in front of Bourdais, took the inside line, not the normal racing line, to block and then for good measure ran Bourdais wide knowing the upcoming wall would force him to lift.  Where has Mr. Reinbold been for the past two years, under a rock?  Does he not remember Castroneves getting the very same penalty for blocking to the inside by not taking the normal racing line and having the win taken away from him?  Similar to the Toronto turn one corner, you cannot take the inside line approaching the corner to defend from a passing attempt.

Reinbold said his driver Pantano told him; “You are telling me I cannot go to the inside of the track on a right hand corner?”, “I’d never give somebody the inside, this is road racing.”  HELLO, this is an IndyCar race not a Superleague or GP2 race which, like IndyCar, have their distinct rules.  NO, you cannot take the inside line into a right hand corner it is against the rules!  Perhaps, Pantano can be forgiven for not knowing the rule since he has not raced in IndyCar since 2005 but he is obliged to know the rules before he gets on the course and his team should have briefed him.  However, after the penalty was explained to him, preferably by his team owner, he should have accepted the penalty as just and said something along the lines of ‘sorry, I didn’t understand the rule I made a mistake’.  Reinbold, on the other hand has no such excuse and is obligated, like his driver, to know the rule.

Now, since all the other drivers have been receiving a drive through as a penalty for blocking, since the start of the 2010 season, Pantano earned the drive through. With it being the last lap, and not able to serve the penalty, it would hardly be fair to the other drivers to give Pantano a pass or a lesser penalty (as the fan below suggests) of giving up the position. The penalty levied was the time it would have taken Pantano to answer his mandatory drive through, dropping him to the last car on the lead lap. Is the rule supposed to be enforced on all laps but the last lap, or not applied to European drivers?  Bourdais races in Europe to European rules, as do many drivers in IndyCar, yet he understands he cannot take other than the normal line (I haven’t a clue what Reinbold is on about with an imaginary line in the middle of the track as any move off the normal racing line to force the following driver to lift or alter his progress is a violation of the rules) in IndyCar.

The rule was put in place to promote passing and the show for the fans both at the track and at home.  It is near impossible to pass on many of the street courses IndyCar races at and if you allowed a driver to block by driving the inside line leading to a corner there would be fewer passes still.  Heck, to get it through the drivers heads, and so the fans could visually understand the rule, in ChampCar Cotman painted a solid white line down the middle of the track leading to a right hand corner at one of the tracks (maybe Toronto?).  Unless a driver was attempting a pass he/she could not be to the right of the white line.  What was the result?  Immediately, passing and re-passing made the racing much better and certainly much better for the fans and T.V..  For those that don’t like the rule, lobby to have it repealed or changed.  It is the rule today, as it was at Sundays race.

Correct call. Correct penalty. Is there inconsistency and tons of room for improvement in race control, sure.  Everyone seems to be ragging on race control and they certainly screw up occasionally, but more times than not they get it right. 

If Reinbold doesn’t like the rule he should lobby to change it, but what he has done here by bringing about uncalled for controversy is not what IndyCar needs and serves only to bring the series into disrepute which, like Will Power, he should be sanctioned for. 

How about Oriol Servia losing his protest, by an independent three judge panel that ruled against him unanimously, putting a sign on his steering wheel ‘Winner Blockhead 250’ that was broadcast over national television in an IndyCar broadcast denigrating IndyCar Race sponsor MoveThatBlock.com which paid IndyCar good money for positive media exposure?  How do drivers and owners get away with this type of conduct without any reprimand or sanction that is what I would like Mr. Bernard to address. 

Another thing, this ‘movement’ to replace Barnhart.  It is obviously a thankless job that requires vast motorsports experience, and preferably in open wheel.  Not a lot of candidates that really fit that criteria.  One name that has been suggested by Robin Miller is Wally Dallenbach Jr., primarily a NASCAR guy and a fair broadcast personality but is he suited to be a IndyCar race official?  On one recent broadcast he said if he were the race director and a driver had ‘avoidable contact’ during a race it wouldn’t be a drive through he would have the car “sit in pit lane for a lap or two to think about it”.  Talk about someone that is clueless. 

IndyCar is not NASCAR, there are no ‘lucky dogs’ and that kind of really ‘draconian’ penalty would kill the teams race entirely as it is highly unlikely a driver could even get back on the lead lap much less challenge for a top ten or podium, much less a win even if such a penalty were assessed at the beginning of a race.  It is racing, there will be unintentional contact.  Do fans want drivers to race or just qualify and then drive around in the position they qualified?  If that is Dallenbach’s answer for ‘avoidable contact’ I am afraid to even guess what his other penalties would look like.  A couple of those type of penalties in a season and a team would be out of the Championship and be at risk of losing their sponsors. 

Does Barnhart make mistakes, absolutely.  Went on national TV and admitted he made a huge one by trying to start a oval race in the wet and then doing the only fair thing by calling it a race in the order they had lined up prior to the aborted restart.  Would it have been fair to Will Power to have lost the Championship from a crash which occurred during a wet oval race seeing as IndyCar does not race on ovals in the wet?  It is supposed to be a competition about skill and strategy, not decided by an official making a mistake giving some drivers huge artificial advantages and others strapped with huge artificial disadvantages. It took a lot of character and strength to stand up and say he made a tremendous mistake and try to set things right as best he could by calling the race and setting the finishing order based upon the competition that had taken course over 215 laps understanding there were wrecked cars that could not continue based on IndyCar’s mistake.

Get rid of Barnhart?  Be careful of what you wish for!  Pete Stanford, Decatur, Illinois



08/30/11 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Agree 100% with Dennis Reinbold’s anger at the officials. Pantano did block Bourdais but he also drove a hell of a race too. The penalty was draconian. If anything, he should have been dropped one spot behind Bourdais, as that would have been a fair representation of the position he EARNED, not 17th. Guaranteed if that was Helio or Dario he wouldn’t have been dropped to 17th. Guaranteed.

And what was up with putting Jakes only 5 spots back????!!!!?!!! Do we just get to pick and choose where we put the backmarkers now?

Unprofessional.  Barnhart must be canned.

True about the blue flags too. I saw Wanica, who was lapping 2 seconds a lap slower and a lap down, hold up Hildebrandt and Bourdais for 3 straight laps without any attempt to allow them to pass. D. Hughes, Atlanta, GA



08/30/11 Dennis Reinbold isn’t sure what infuriates most: having his driver penalized for blocking or having to find out about it on television.

“The whole thing was laughable but I’m mad as hell and I can’t sit back and not defend my driver and my team,” said Reinbold on Tuesday, referring to Giorgio Pantano being dropped from sixth to 17th by chief steward Brian Barnhart but only learning of the penalty while being interviewed on VERSUS.

“I don’t like getting screwed.”

Pantano, subbing for the injured Justin Wilson, was called for blocking Sebastian Bourdais on the final turn of the last lap of Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

Evidently, since nothing was ever officially released on paper by INDYCAR, Barnhart ruled that Pantano had used the inside line to keep Bourdais behind him. zzzz

“The issue was entry to Turn 11 and I’ve watched the replay several times and Giorgio went towards the middle of the track but never crossed that imaginary line in the middle and Sebastian elected to go to the outside.

“Giorgio never got on the inner half of the track entering the turn and it was a terrible call.”

Some 20 minutes after the race, Pantano was approached for an interview by Kevin Lee of VERSUS.

“Kevin told Giorgio he’d been dropped back to 17th place and he thought it was a joke,” continued Reinbold. “Nobody had said a word to us so Larry Curry (team manager) and myself went down to the INDYCAR trailer.

“Brian wasn’t back yet but Al Unser Jr. told us just to wait until we saw the tape. Then I got pretty heated.”

Pantano was incredulous at the ruling.

“He said, ‘You are telling me I cannot go to the inside of the track on a right hand corner?” relayed Reinbold. “I’d never give somebody the inside, this is road racing.”

Reinbold was also miffed at the placing of a lapped car directly in front of Pantano.

“They put Bourdais’ teammate (James Jakes) right in front of us with six laps to go on the restart. They moved him away from the leaders for the good of the show but we were running sixth, why not give us a chance to win the race as well?

“He (Jakes) should have been behind the last car on the lead lap but instead he was blocking Pantano and nothing happened. They said he got the blue flag and I said they could stick all those blue flags in the trash can because nobody pays attention to them.” SPEEDTV.com

08/29/11 Giorgio Pantano was penalized for blocking after finishing 6th Sunday at Sonoma substituting for the injured Justin Wilson.  Dreyer & Reinbold team owner Dennis Reinbold had this to say on Twitter after the race.

"We know that we were penalized, but we are just considering that as hot air. On the re-start the League put the lapped No. 18 car in front us randomly with no explanation as to why they did that. As a result we had to battle between lapped cars. Whatever they say we are not going to acknowledge it."

"What were they thinking putting Jakes behind the top 5 but in front of everyone else?"

This will probably lead to more calls for Brian Barnhart's ouster.

On a day that featured very little passing, Giorgio Pantano was the exception.  The IndyCar Series rookie started 11th in Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and patiently picked off drivers one by one.

Eventually he worked his way up to sixth, where he might have finished had he not been penalized for blocking Sebastien Bourdais on his pass attempt late in the race.

"I was going to dive in, and he just blocked me," Bourdais said. "He pushed me over the rumble strip to finish the job."

Pantano's punishment, which was issued after the race, placed him as the last car on the lead lap, which was 17th place.

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