Report: IndyCar to implement pit box lines starting at Baltimore

8 Comments

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.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. believes Indy 500 should never have guaranteed starting positions

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – Like many viewers watching last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 “Bump Day” on NBC, former NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was captivated by the drama.

He also believes INDYCAR should not follow NASCAR’s path of “Chartered Teams” locking up positions in the major races; such as the Daytona 500. That has taken away the excitement and drama of the Daytona Duels.

“Not trying to get myself in the weeds here, but I think Indy could look at the history of NASCAR and how it has changed the excitement for some of the Duels and qualifying,” Earnhardt told NBC Sports.com. “I would not go in that direction. If I was in control of things, I would not pull those levers to have guaranteed spots. The thrill of Bump Day and the battle for the final row, increased the value of Sunday and viewership for Sunday. It taught people about other drivers and teams. We don’t learn those things if you don’t see them going through that battle and experience.

“I thought it was a tremendous win for the people that want to keep things at Indy as they are.”

Earnhardt, who is part of NBC’s crew for Sunday’s telecast of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, believes the way it all played out created a storyline that enhances the interest in the 500-Mile Race.

“I experienced the drama before with Bump Day that has happened here in this race in the past, but I thought it was symbolic with the conversation going on about guaranteed spots,” Earnhardt said. “For the folks who are the traditionalists who believe you have to earn your way in, it was a great day for those folks and their argument. Fernando Alonso and how that story played out and his reaction to not making it, I thought he handled it like the champion he is. All of that was interesting.

“The little teams beating the big teams was pretty cool. It created some really exciting stuff and did nothing but build excitement in the race.

“Even though Alonso is not in the race, I’m just as interested, or more interested, than I was before. Them not being in the race didn’t change it for me. If anything, that whole drama and how it played out made me more excited to see the event.”

Earnhardt is attending his first Indianapolis 500 in person. He will be part of NBC’s Indianapolis 500 Pre-race show along with Mike Tirico and 2005 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick.

Earnhardt will also drive the Pace Car to lead the 33-car starting lineup to the green flag to start the 103rdIndianapolis 500. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time.