IndyCar stands by Scott Dixon's controversial Sonoma pit penalty

IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield insists that he was correct to penalise Ganassi's Scott Dixon for the pitlane collision with a Penske crew member during Sunday's race at Sonoma

IndyCar stands by Scott Dixon's controversial Sonoma pit penalty

Dixon was leading ahead of Will Power when the pair stopped together on lap 65 at the end of their third stint. Dixon's pit box was directly behind Power's, and Ganassi was able to complete his stop and get him out while Penske was still working on Power's car.

But due to the tight pitlane, Dixon cut through the corner of Power's pit box just as Travis Law, Power's right-rear wheel man, was walking back to the pitwall.

Dixon's car clipped the tyre that Law was carrying, flipping him into the air, while two other Penske crew members were also brought down after being caught by the air hose.

All three escaped injury, and Dixon was issued a drive-through penalty that relegated him to 21st, although he later recovered to 15th.

The penalty prompted outrage from Ganassi, but Barfield is adamant that it was fair.

"You can see the difference between the Target and the Verizon signs on the pitwall, and if you look at that with the #9 [Dixon] car leaving the pitlane you clearly see that he goes right into the pitbox of the #12 [Power] car, and that's where the violation occurred," Barfield said.

"From the overhead, he's actually in the pitbox for the car in front of him by a solid half car-length. So that made it easy for us to make the call.

"You look at risk versus reward; the risk of hurting somebody in pitlane versus gaining a couple of tenths or even a second in pitlane is certainly not worth it, and not something that we're going to look away from and not penalise."

DIXON: PENSKE'S ACTIONS BLATANT

Dixon, whose title hopes were dealt a blow by the incident, remained convinced that Penske had interfered with his stop deliberately.

"It looks like he [the crew member] walked straight into our car," he said. "You could see where the other car in front of us was pitted and he walked into us, on purpose. That's probably the most blatant thing I've seen in a long time."

Accusations of sabotage were swiftly rejected by Team Penske owner Roger Penske.

"Our man who changed the tyre picked the tyre up, [and] was running behind the car. It wasn't that he stuck the tyre out. He didn't leave the tyre on the ground where it could have been in the way.

"I think they're way overplaying this thing as far as I'm concerned. Obviously the #9 car was too close to our crew and had an accident there. The outcome is obvious. So I feel bad for Scott. [But] these are things that are pretty clear in the rule book. If a team member gets hit in the pits, there's a drive-through."

AUTOSPORT SAYS
Mark Glendenning, US editor
@m_glendenning

There's nothing like a controversial call in the heat of a championship battle to stoke the emotions, and even those in no position to make judgements were quick to draw conclusions on Sunday.

For those watching at home the situation was made more complicated by the white lines on the pit road, which appear to denote pit boxes, but in fact are actually used by NASCAR, not IndyCar.

There's no doubt that Dixon cut through Power's pitbox, but the pitlane is so tight that he had no option. The only reason it mattered was that on this occasion there was a guy there.

You'd like to think that gamesmanship between teams does not extend to putting personnel at risk, and while there's no suggestion that Penke deliberately exposed Law to harm, a crew member from a team not involved in the incident told AUTOSPORT that subtle tricks to make life hard for rivals in the pits are standard fare.

If that's the case, it will be interesting to see whether anything changes after this.

shares
comments
Oriol Servia to complete IndyCar season with Panther

Previous article

Oriol Servia to complete IndyCar season with Panther

Next article

Juan Pablo Montoya would prove talent in IndyCar return - Ganassi

Juan Pablo Montoya would prove talent in IndyCar return - Ganassi
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Dixon
Author Mark Glendenning
How good is Palou - and can he be Dixon's main IndyCar title rival? Plus

How good is Palou - and can he be Dixon's main IndyCar title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? DAVID MALSHER-LOPEZ investigates Palou's potential

Can Penske redress the balance in IndyCar's battle of the titans? Plus

Can Penske redress the balance in IndyCar's battle of the titans?

IndyCar's gold standard teams Ganassi and Penske are set for another slugfest beginning this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park. A poor start to the first season with the new aeroscreen left Josef Newgarden with too much ground to make up on Scott Dixon in the title chase, but his strong end to 2020 suggests a battle royale lies ahead...

IndyCar
Apr 16, 2021
The six major IndyCar subplots to follow in 2021 Plus

The six major IndyCar subplots to follow in 2021

From rookies arriving with big reputations to veterans who still have the fire and an F1-linked squad pushing to join the big leagues, IndyCar has it all this year. Here are six of the key storylines to keep track of

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed Plus

The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed

Often unfairly characterised as a car-breaker, judged for his lack of an Indianapolis 500 win and a disappointing part-season of Formula 1 in 1993, Michael Andretti was highly respected by his rivals and only thwarted greater success by ill-fortune. When it all came together in 1991, he was a truly formidable force

IndyCar
Mar 6, 2021
How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite Plus

How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite

The second year of McLaren's full-time IndyCar return is looming, with Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up. Strong team personnel and work behind the scenes means that 2021 could be the year it joins the established elite

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart Plus

The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart

Flashes of brilliance amid spells of obscurity have been too common for Marco Andretti. While the third-generation racer has opted to bring his full-time IndyCar career to a close, his peaks and troughs have never been for want of trying

IndyCar
Jan 20, 2021
Why American racing's top dog is without equal Plus

Why American racing's top dog is without equal

A byword for success in business and in motorsport for over 50 years, Roger Penske's importance to the US scene cannot be understated. In an exclusive interview, the custodian of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway reflects on his journey

IndyCar
Jan 11, 2021
The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete Plus

The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indycar game-changer that won its third Indianapolis 500 five years after its debut

IndyCar
Dec 22, 2020