Enough time has passed between Scott Dixon’s comments made to reporters in the heat of the moment in Baltimore and today’s road course test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to where something could have been done by INDYCAR in reaction.
To give you a quick recap of the last two weeks, Dixon was penalized for contacting pit equipment and two of Will Power’s pit crew in Sonoma. Dixon called Penske’s actions there a “(expletive) move” and said of IndyCar race control and in particular, Race Director Beaux Barfield, that its consistency level was “horrible.” Here’s the interview clip from that take.
No direct pot shots, and a fair enough take given the circumstances.
But this weekend in Baltimore, Dixon and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team have boiled over after their latest dust-up with Power and Penske. Here’s the wreck that caused Dixon’s retirement from the race.
Dixon was once again frustrated in his NBCSN interview, but at least had the self-restraint to say he should probably quit talking before “saying anything he would regret later.”
But, come reports on Monday, Dixon said some things that in years past, could have been a finable offense. He called for Barfield’s firing, and also referred to Penske Racing president Tim Cindric as a “piece of (expletive).”
Power and Penske would know a thing or two about speaking out against Race Control. Under previous INDYCAR Race Director Brian Barnhart, Power memorably flipped Barnhart the “double birds” at Loudon, New Hampshire in 2011 when a race was restarted on an oval as it was raining.
For that offense, Power was fined $30,000 and placed on probation for the remainder of the season. He had the opportunity to work off the fine by making a series of public appearances on INDYCAR’s behalf.
Dixon, meanwhile, has verbally gone after the Race Director in consecutive weeks and received no formal penalty from INDYCAR as a result.
Dixon’s frustration is warranted, because he feels “hard done” or done in by events outside his control that have put a serious dent in his championship chances. He’s also having to deal with a personal loss, as his wife Emma’s sister has passed away just in the last couple weeks.
But that shouldn’t excuse him from penalty for calling for the ouster of the Race Director, even if in his view it’s warranted.
A fine should be imposed to Dixon just for the precedent not fining him would set. As it stands now, a fine has been issued for outbursts against the former Race Director, but public outbursts against the current one have not. And that gives others free rein with which to speak out.
Occasional officiating mistakes are part of the game in any sport, and the person in the position itself is not infallible. But Dixon and the team are teetering on the verge of sour grapes with their vendetta against Barfield, and right now are getting away with it without penalty.
It’s unfortunate to witness because Dixon’s one of the best, and usually classiest, drivers in the paddock. To see him come as undone as he has the last two weeks has been difficult to watch.