Rahal disappointed in IndyCar’s ‘change of heart’ over Castroneves penalty

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FORT WORTH – Graham Rahal said he wouldn’t make a comment on IndyCar’s decision to reduce penalties to Helio Castroneves’ team following the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9.

Then he did anyway.

Rahal shared his frustration in IndyCar reducing Castroneves’ penalty for avoidable contact with Scott Dixon that started a Lap 1, Turn 1 crash that also involved Josef Newgarden and Jack Hawksworth. The original penalty of eight points was reduced to three.

As a result, Castroneves switched points positions with Rahal, putting the former in fourth behind leader Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“I think once a penalty’s done, it should be done,” Rahal said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “To change it a month later…but, you know we’re going to focus on beating Helio this weekend and getting those points back. If we can do that, we’ll be just fine.”

The initial penalty came following a race in which Rahal finished second for the second week in a row. That was part of a stretch where the Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing driver finished in the top five in four out of five races. The only exception was a 23rd-place finish in race one of the Dual in Detroit, when Rahal was involved in a Lap 5 crash.

“Particularly now with the sudden change of heart on the Helio penalty it makes it hard because we lost a spot in the championship there,” Rahal said. “It’s frustrating obviously because my team, I think everybody’s worked very hard this year,” Rahal said. “We feel like in St. Pete we got hosed with a penalty. We still feel that way. That took us out of a top three, top four right there.”

Castroneves thought the reduction was fair.

“I obviously to this day think it wasn’t anything intentional,” Castroneves said after his qualifying attempt for the Firestone 600. “I did everything I could to avoid contact (with Dixon). At the end of the day, I think it’s fair for what happened and we’ll move on.”