IndyCar penalizes Devlin DeFrancesco for wrecking Castroneves, Rahal at Texas

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LONG BEACH, California – Devlin DeFrancesco received a six-position grid penalty Friday from the NTT IndyCar Series for causing the crash in the March 20 race at Texas Motor Speedway that collected Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves.

The wreck eliminated the trio from the event on Lap 128 of 248 at Texas. DeFrancesco’s No. 29 Dallara-Honda also was involved in separate earlier incidents with Takuma Sato and Kyle Kirkwood (both of whom also were knocked out).

The avoidable contact penalty is unusual for IndyCar, which normally limits penalties to the race in question, but the punishment is in line with the six-grid penalties that have been administered for unapproved engine changes.

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The penalty means DeFrancesco will start Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (3 p.m. ET, NBC) six positions lower than where the Andretti Autosport rookie qualifies Saturday.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Castroneves approved of the IndyCar penalty.

“Look, yeah, it’s tough on anybody, however they need to learn,” Castroneves told NBC Sports. “It costs both teams a lot of money. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not here to tipetoe with anybody. But I believe I had my fair share (of penalties) when I was young the same way, hitting people unnecessarily. He didn’t do that on purpose. I did (in) Indy Lights. I learned. Even when older, I did that, too, and got a penalty.

“So I feel maybe it’s the responsibility of the series to help and teach everyone. Not only the young ones but everyone. You’ve got to be responsible for the consequences of your actions.”

Castroneves spoke to DeFrancesco about the incident and said “I feel he understood. He didn’t have to (do it). I said, ‘Look, if it would have been 10 laps to go, maybe that was the move that he was going for (the win). However when it’s 120 laps to go, maybe you should just be thinking about that. He will learn. It’s a good message from the series.

“When we put the helmets on, and I’m in the same boat, we forget about what (IndyCar officials) say. That’s why I wasn’t furious. I was upset obviously because it destroyed everybody’s race, but the good news is nobody got hurt. Which is a great testament of the safety of the cars. It is a good message for the entire grid. When you’re going to make a move, make sure you’re going to pass.”