IndyCar: Marco Andretti fined; Sato, Conway cleared to drive today

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INDYCAR has announced a $2,500 fine and three races of probation for Marco Andretti after he failed to heed the blue flag during yesterday’s Race 1 of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.

The probation period begins with today’s Race 2 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

After pitting early for a flat tire at Lap 8, Andretti found himself running on the tail end of the lead lap and in front of Takuma Sato, who was leading the race at the time.

Sato’s lead over Andretti’s teammate, James Hinchcliffe, shrank as he was unable to get past Andretti. Race Control chose to give Andretti the blue flag, which tells the driver receiving it to let the faster car overtake.

But feeling that Andretti didn’t heed it quickly enough, Race Control then gave him the black flag and a drive-through penalty several laps later.

Officially, Andretti violated Rule 7.2.5.2 of the Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook.

The sanctioning body has also announced that Sato and Mike Conway have been cleared to drive in today’s race after both of them crashed out yesterday.

On Lap 28, Conway slammed into the tire barriers at Turn 3 to bring out a full-course yellow. Then, on the restart at Lap 33, Sato and the lapped car of Mikhail Aleshin made contact going into Turn 6 and went into the outside wall.

Conway was diagnosed with a sprained left thumb after his incident, while Sato came away from his crash with a bruised right hand.

This morning, however, INDYCAR medical director Dr. Michael Olinger gave both of them the OK to compete today after re-evaluations.