Whether you like him or not, Brian Barnhart made the right call, according to the rules, on Sunday afternoon in Edmonton.
With just 3 laps to go, Helio Castroneves held the lead over teammate Will Power in Sunday's Honda Edmonton Indy. On the lap-92 restart, with Will Power following close behind, Castroneves entered turn 1 clearly off of the 'normal racing line' to prevent being overtaken by Power.
Castroneves was immediately black flagged and ordered to a drive-through penalty. Ignoring the on track penalty, Castroneves finished the race, and after finally pitting, went crazy on Technical Director Kevin Blanch, and head of security, Charles Burns. Helio was later penalized 20-seconds and sent to the tail of the lead lap, finishing 10th:
“Obviously, I disagree with the decisions made by the race officials on the last restart in today’s race, but there is no excuse for my actions after the checkered flag. I apologize to my team, our sponsors, the fans and the entire IZOD IndyCar Series community for my behavior. My actions were totally wrong and I acted inappropriately to some people who are my friends and people I respect very much. Obviously, I am a very emotional person and today I let my emotions get the better of me and I’m very sorry for that.” - Helio CastronevesDid the 3-time Indy champ make a clear blocking move? No, but according to the rules he didn't have to. The blocking rules from the IZOD IndyCar Series rule book are as follows:
Rule 9.3 (B) A driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing Drivers or use an abnormal racing line to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag "drive through" penalty.Not only is the fact that a driver can not alter his normal racing line to prevent a pass clearly spelled out in the rules, but league President of Competition and Racing Operations, Brian Barnhart, stated the same in the weekly pre-race driver meeting:
Rule 7.1 (B) (4) (C) (4) The senior official shall determine the type and length of any black flag. The penalized car shall proceed to pit lane as directed by Officials and may return to the Race only upon the declaration of Officials. In the case of the Driver Violating the Rules, no work may be performed on a Car during the execution of a black flag penalty. Should any such work occur, the conditions of the penalty are unfilled and the penalty procedure must be executed again in its entirety on a subsequent lap. The penalty may not be protested and/or appealed.
Rule 9.2 (A) Race Procedure Penalties are a result of on track conduct and are generally imposed during on Track activity. If the imposition of a penalty is near or at the end of on Track activity and Driver/Car does not fulfill it, the Senior Official may reposition the Driver/Car in the posting of results or apply the penalty to subsequent on Track activity to reflect the fulfillment of the penalty. The penalty including without limitation any repositioning in a posting is non-protestable and/or appealable.
"You have plenty of options on where to put your car and we should not have any defending or blocking. Again we will be visually dividing the braking point through the entry into the corner in half. You can only be on the inside half if you are attempting to pass someone. If you are on the inside half because you are under attack from someone else, it is blocking. Don't move your car in reaction to a following car and don't impede the progress of a car with a run on you."
Cars are all in correct formation
Will Power legaly dives to the inside to pass Helio Castroneves. Castroneves dives down, breaking the 'normal line' to prevent the overtake.
All cars are taking the 'normal line' with the exception of Castroneves and Power, who are beginning to pull back out, setting up for turn 1.
All cars are now making the T1 turn.
The debate on whether or not what transpired in the late stages at Edmonton was a block or not can continue. But, according to the rules, as they stand, Barnhart made the correct call. No question.