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IndyCar Spanks Castroneves

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, August 2 2010

Helio Castroneves has been penalized by the IZOD IndyCar Series. (Photo courtesy of the IZOD IndyCar Series)

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IZOD IndyCar Series officials have fined driver Helio Castroneves $60,000 and placed him on probation for the remaining six races of the 2010 season for his actions during and after the July 25 race at Edmonton City Centre Airport.

Castroneves was penalized for refusing to follow the direction of officials as well as portraying unsportsmanlike conduct when he engaged in physical contact with two officials on pit lane after the conclusion of the race. IndyCar officials met with Castroneves at their headquarters in Indianapolis Monday.

“I fully support the decisions of chief steward Brian Barnhart and Race Control,” said Randy Bernard, IndyCar’s chief executive officer. “The drivers have been aware of the blocking rule for quite some time. Brian reminded the drivers of the blocking rule in the Edmonton pre-race drivers’ meeting, which serves as the first warning, and the rule was executed during the race just as it dictates.”

Castroneves was leading the race at Edmonton when he was issued a black flag for blocking Team Penske teammate Will Power on Lap 93 following a restart. But Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Dallara/Honda, failed to complete the drive-through pit lane penalty.

“This rule is unique to IndyCar racing,” said Barnhart, who has been widely criticized by drivers in other professional road-racing series and some media for his call. “It was put in place to protect our competitors, officials and fans, prevent unnecessary damage to these cars and allow for more passing opportunities.

“Bad things happen when these cars touch and there have been serious incidents with major consequences on temporary circuits throughout Indy-car history. With the new wheel interlocking prevention technology that is coming in our 2012 car, we will be re-evaluating this rule in the future.”

Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing emerged as the winner, with Power second and Dario Franchitti of Ganassi Racing third. Following the race, Castroneves was penalized 20 seconds and placed at the end of the lead lap (10th). After exiting his car, Castroneves engaged in altercations with two officials on pit lane.

“This sport is so close and competitive that emotions are always on display,” Bernard said. “However, that does not justify the post-race conduct of Helio toward series officials. This is a very serious matter and we weighed all options, including suspension. But we felt suspension would hurt the fans more than anyone else. Fans have paid their hard-earned money to watch the best drivers in the world and many bought their tickets for upcoming events with the expectation of watching Helio. He is a great ambassador for this sport and we know his actions after the race in Edmonton are not indicative of his normal behavior.”

Castroneves apologized after cooling-down on race day and was equally contrite following Monday’s meeting.

“I want to thank Randy Bernard for taking the time to meet with me in Indianapolis today,” Castroneves said. “Once again, I regret what occurred following the IZOD IndyCar Series race in Edmonton and I apologize for my behavior as I let my emotions get the better of me.

“Although my disappointment with being black-flagged while leading the race with just a few laps to go will probably always remain with me, I understand and accept the league’s decision to penalize me for my reaction. I am ready to move forward and I’m hoping to add to Team Penske’s success at Mid-Ohio this weekend.”

The IndyCar Series returns to action Friday-Sunday with the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Monday, August 2 2010
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