Castroneves furious over penalty

Castroneves (Top) thinks it was OK to block his way to the win even though Wilson (Below) was noticeably faster. Bravo to Barnhart for doing what was right.
Mark Scheuern/

One of the biggest complaints about Brian Barnhart is that the IndyCar President, Competition Division, is usually "all bark and no bite" when it comes to enforcing penalties, that he often warns drivers against the sins of blocking but rarely penalizes offending drivers. That changed in Sunday's Detroit Indy Grand Prix as Barnhart took a big bite out of Helio Castroneves' bid for a second straight victory.

Castroneves and Justin Wilson were engaged in quite a battle when the green flag waved on Lap 69, but when it became obvious that Castroneves was blocking, Barnhart ordered Castroneves behind Wilson on the 72nd lap.

What some found curious was that Barnhart made the call with Castroneves in a battle with Scott Dixon for the season title. There is a term in basketball when late in the game the officials let the outcome be "determined on the court" and often "swallow the whistle," overlooking some physical contact rather than calling a foul. But Barnhart had no choice.

"You can't officiate based on points or who's involved or what position they hold," Barnhart said. "You have to do it out of fairness and competition."

Tim Cindric is president of Team Penske and calls the shots for Castroneves, while team owner Roger Penske calls the pit strategy for Ryan Briscoe. Cindric is a master at understanding the rule book and objecting when he feels his team is right, and he was dumbfounded by the decision that helped Wilson win the race while Castroneves finished second.

"Hey, I just want to know what the situation is before we start," Cindric said. "We haven't seen that before. … We're disappointed with second place when you are running for a championship."

Cindric said there is no reason to appeal the call — they just have to accept it and move on to the final race of the season at Chicagoland, trailing Dixon by 30 points.

"Consistency is the only thing I ask for," Castroneves said. "I've been in this series since 2002 and we never had a situation like this. We always have a warning and then if you do it again, then you are going to be penalized.

"All of a sudden, I didn't get any warning. It was, 'Move over. You're going to get black-flagged.' It was uncalled for. I know that Brian Barnhart is trying to put pressure on and make everyone disciplined, but two races to go for the championship, I don't think it's the right thing to do."

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By :