Following the controversial penalty on Scott Dixon this past weekend at Sonoma Raceway, INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker has told The Indianapolis Star that the series will have pit box lines marked out at future races starting with this weekend’s Grand Prix of Baltimore (Sun., 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Confusion set in after Dixon was handed a drive-through penalty from Race Control for hitting a tire that was being held by a crewman for Team Penske driver Will Power. The impact sent the crewman into another one, and an air gun that was sent flying in the incident hit a third person.
In explaining his decision to penalize Dixon, IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield told NBCSN on Sunday that Dixon had crossed into Power’s pit space. However, the lines that were already painted didn’t mark out the teams’ actual spaces.
“The lines are a little bit confusing, because we don’t go in and change the lines everywhere we go,” Barfield said at the time. “There’s a different angle, if you looked at, you can see the difference between the Target [Dixon] and the Verizon [Power] signs on the wall.
“With the 9 car [Dixon] leaving the pit lane, he clearly crosses right into the pit box into the 12 car [Power] space, and that’s where the violation occurred. From that [angle] right there – as much as it looks like if you’re looking at the white line, he’s not in the box yet – he’s actually been in that box for the 12 car in front of him for a solid half-car length.”
Upon seeing a replay of the incident after the race, Dixon immediately called out the Penske crewman holding the tire, saying that he walked toward his car on purpose.
However, Walker told The Star’s Curt Cavin that he believes the crewman wasn’t doing anything devious.
“He carried that wheel the same way he always does, and here’s the key thing: He was in his [pit] box,” said Walker, who also mentioned that he would issue “courtesy expectations” regarding proper pit road etiquette.
“If he’s in his pit box, that guy can carry that tire on his head for all I care. For us, it’s about consistency, and there’s nothing more consistent than our rule that if you hit equipment on pit road, yours or theirs, you get a drive-through penalty. There was nothing inconsistent about that.”
Thanks to the penalty, Dixon was knocked from the lead all the way to 21st before eventually finishing 15th. Power went on to win the race.