Random Thoughts On Edmonton

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One thing that we all love about sports is that things can drastically change in the blink of an eye. It is also what we hate about sports. Racing is no different. That’s what happened on Sunday when the IZOD IndyCar Series made its annual visit to Edmonton. After a snoozer of a race for the first three-quarters, things suddenly became interesting at first, and then things suddenly boiled over in the final two laps.

Before I get too far into this, I’ll post my disclaimer. For those new to this site, I am an unabashed Helio Castroneves fan. I always try to be objective. When Helio makes a mistake, I’ll usually acknowledge it. Yesterday, I saw no mistake.

When Helio Castroneves held off Will Power’s attempt to pass with two laps to go, I thought I had just witnessed a brilliant piece of driving on Helio‘s part. To hold off your teammate while both of you are going for the win, is a risky proposition. The only standing team orders at Team Penske is to not take each other out. I thought Helio did a masterful job at holding the position while avoiding contact between the two teammates. Brian Barnhart saw it differently. He penalized Helio for blocking. When Helio refused to answer the drive-through penalty, Barnhart scored him at the end of the lead lap. Helio was dropped from first to tenth.

Those on the Versus crew were carefully choosing their words, but they said diplomatically that they did not see a block. The two drivers interviewed on the telecast were not quite innocent bystanders; Will Power was the recipient of the alleged block and Scott Dixon was handed the win as a result of the penalty. What do you expect them to say?

But after watching the replay several times; I’m appalled that this was called a block. Yes, Helio swung to the left before entering the right-hander. So did everyone else. That’s called entering the turn. All other drivers had already swung out much further to the left. Power and Castroneves began their entry much later, due to Power’s challenge. Helio was the leader and he held his line. Power carried too much momentum into the corner while trying to make the pass and got sideways. I don’t blame Power for trying to pass, but don’t blame Helio for fending him off. It’s called racing. They are fighting to see who can cross the finish-line first – not to see who can accumulate the most points on technical merit. That’s what figure skating is about.

Brian Barnhart has acquired the not so complimentary nickname of “the iron hand of justice” for a reason. His arrogance outruns his common sense more often that not. How can he steal a win from Helio Castroneves by calling him for blocking, yet allow Danica Patrick to cut across the bow of her teammate, Tony Kanaan, at Texas and do nothing?

It’s time for Brian Barnhart to go. He has worn out his welcome. He is pretty much the last holdover from the Tony George regime. That regime was known for governing by arrogance. This new regime run by Randy Bernard seems to use reason and logic. Plus, they genuinely care about what their core audience wants. The Tony George-Brian Barnhart regime was more interested in talking down to the core fans by telling them what was best for them, whether they realized it or not.

I was concerned when I heard that Barnhart was on the ICONIC committee. He made it clear months before that committee was formed that he thought that Dallara was the clear choice for the future of the league, since they had been such a good partner. Of course, the teams didn’t think they were such a good partner as they continued to charge top-dollar for a car that had been in use since 2003, with little or no research going into the design for years – yet they continued to extort money from the teams for replacement tubs. Where else could a team go if they needed a new tub? I wonder what decision would have been made had Barnhart not been a part of the process.

When USAC did a poor job of officiating the IRL races in the early days, they were given the boot. The scoring debacle at Texas in 1997 that ended with AJ Foyt slapping Arie Luyendyk into the bushes also resulted in USAC being sent packing. It was then that the IRL decided they would take over the officiating. It’s time for Randy Bernard to step in and send Barnhart on his way.

To make a call of this magnitude is unconscionable. This is arrogance at its highest level. Yet, when Brian Barnhart was asked to explain himself and be held accountable for his actions, he was cowering in the trailer supposedly reviewing the tape. Of course, the ruling stood. No one that stubborn or arrogant would ever admit a mistake.

Helio’s reaction was pretty much predictable – except for the suicidal act of grabbing security chief Charles Burns by the collar. Burns is only about three and a half times bigger than Helio. That’s the one move on Sunday that Helio seriously needed to re-think. Fortunately, Burns just kind of seemed to laugh it off. He knew Helio was just blowing off steam – and rightfully so. He was robbed.

In most sporting events, the officials do their best job when they do not become part of the story. They maintain control, but they let ‘em play. In this case, Brian Barnhart should have just let’em race. Instead, he inserted himself and his ego into the fray and allowed himself to alter the outcome and become a major part of the story. Randy Bernard needs to get control of this situation to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.

TV Coverage: It was not the Versus crew’s finest day, although a mediocre Versus telecast is still better than any ABC/ESPN broadcast over the past few years. Their pre-race show was good, but there seemed to be a more than a few minor gaffes in the booth. I also thought that Robbie Floyd’s post-race interview was weak. Granted, they were trying circumstances and Helio wasn’t giving him much to work with, but he completely lost control of the situation, by first begging him to watch the replay of the alleged block and then asking what Helio meant by saying “…talk to my attorneys”. Lame.

On another note, Versus is getting a little too cute with graphics. They now have a large obstructive box that drops down on the right side of the screen, when they are using the in-car camera shot. It obscures the shot of an upcoming right-hander or any traffic up ahead. The whole effect of the in-car shot is to give the audience the same view that the driver gets. I’d prefer to watch how a driver enters the upcoming turn or deals with traffic rather than watch a picture of Will Power in front of a waving Australian flag.

All in all: The first three fourths of this race was about as boring as it gets. Perhaps I worked too long in the yard in the heat over the weekend, but I was literally having trouble staying awake in the first half of the race. Paul Tracy added a little excitement as he moved up, and his KV Racing Technology teammates had a stellar day for the most part – but the front of the field was static, stagnant and very predictable. Three Penske’s and two Ganassi’s made up the top five throughout the day.

Things did get a little interesting just past the midway point. Suddenly, a race that had been caution-free had three cautions within seven laps. The Castroneves took it upon himself to end the Will Power juggernaut and passed him in earnest – on the track. An odd full-course caution for Simona de Silvestro’s car which had gone way off into the grass, set up the last ill-fated re-start. It’s a re-start that may be talked about for months.

George Phillips

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34 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Edmonton”

  1. I covered auto racing as a journalist for more than 30 years. When defending a position entering a turn, nearly 100% of the time, the leading driver wants the inside of the turn to force a challenger to take the long way around. Sunday that is what Helio did. that is racing and every true race driver known that.
    The rule cited as the reason for this decision is ridiculous and what is really amazing is that it exists, as written, at all.
    A positive side of this is that in Indianapolis, a road race in Canada got nearly equal air time on local TV as what used to be a major local stock car race.

  2. Indycar officiating, like officiating in all sports, is prone to subjective rules interpretation. If you read the rule the way it is written, technically it was a block. The problem is the inconsistency of enforcement. 99% of the time this call would not be made. Why it was made on Sunday is anybody’s guess.

    Like an umpire calling balls and strikes, I think the drivers can live with any rule interpretation provided it is consistently enforced. Clearly, this was an inconsistent call, which makes it a damn shame that it ended up effecting the outcome of a race.

    Of all the blocks that I have seen Castroneves throw over the years, (and Lord knows he’s thrown more than his share) this was one of the least egregious.

    Now, that said, it was nice to see a driver show some emotion in the moment, instead of waiting to whine about it later in a Twitter post. Grabbing Security Chief Charles by the shirt was clearly a suicide attempt. The man’s pectoral muscles are licensed weapons in 7 states.

    • I think this rule was enforced for two reasons, the first is that Helio is in fact a habitual offender. If it had been Dixon in the 3, I don’t think there would have been a call made. Helio has a rep here and if the league does not send the message that he is subject to the rules like everyone else, then no one could ever be held accountable. The second nuance here is that Tony Cottman is the guy rviewing the replays and making the initial calls. BB still have to approve, but I think Tony is flagging things that in the past would have gone uncalled.

  3. I did not see this live as I was on a plane at the time, I did howver see this 4 times as replayed on espnnews. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a problem, it took me a couple more replays to become convinced. It was not Helio’s hard to the inside line that was the problem, that was fine and fit well into BB’s “One Move” guidelines. The problem was the drift to the outside while helio was executing the turn. A proper racing line, no matter the trajectory will take you through the most inside point of the curve, on the replay there is enough room between helio and the curb, that another car could have gotten by. That is the illegal “Second Move” that drivers are constantly warned about. Now why was helio that far away from the most efficient path through the turn? Well option 1 was that he was blocking. Option two was that he came into the turn too hot to hold his racing line, in which case we saw Moraes penalized for the same thing the previous week. Either way, the masterfull driving was accomplished by Power to avoid the contact.

    At this point I have seen three drivers all tweet about this and they all seem pretty clear that they are told before every race what the expectations are. And all three seemed to agree that this move was outside the boundaries of an “acceptible racing move” as defined to them in the driver’s meeting before each and every race. I am not sure we should be judging helio’s move relative to our expectations of the rules but rather how they are communicated and interpreted to the drivers themselves.

    I had this same argument with Steph at planet IRL last night, I suspect we will just have to agree to disagree. If there is a bright side to this, this, if this never happens, Edmonton gets NO coverage on ESPN last night, none. As the night wore on this moved further and further up the playlist in the ESPNnews cycle. Perhaps there will be more eyes tuned to Mid Ohio in two weeks.

  4. I don’t care what the drivers say, at least on the record, becuase they’re going to say what the league/team/sponsors want them to. That was the most bulls**t call I’ve seen in Indycar since Rahal got a “blocking” penalty at Indy! So it’s been about 2 months!. If that’s blocking then

    • accidently hit publish, here’s the rest:
      about 3/4ths of the field needs to be penalized to! As to the supposed “rule” if that’s really the rule then that might be as stuipid as NASCAR’s “have at it boys” rule, becuase to divide the track like that isn’t racing. I’m all for block penalties when it’s AN ACTUAL BLOCK, but that WASN’T a f*cking block, and if that was against the rules, then there needed to be about 20 more black flags handed out. So either way you look at it, Barnhart needs to go! What an unbelieveable failure! And if Cotman really thinks thats blocking, then Miller’s wrong, Cotman shouldn’t get near the chief steward role either. In 08 at Belle Isle, that was a BLOCK, but this wasn’t a block!!!!

      And yes, the race was a snoozefest… The Big Two held all the top spots, only Helio’s penalty prevented a total Big Two sweep. The only good storyline throughout the start of the race was Simona, who was running great, until Viso speared her. Then it got even more dull, the only slightly interesting thing left was Tracy… in the past, the one good thign about hte road and street courses was that they helped the other teams win, but this year, they’re even better for the Big Two than the ovals!!!

  5. Steve K Says:

    Helio was so far off the racing line that third place almost passed him after the turn. He wasnt penalized for swooping left before the right-hander, he was penalized for being so far right, out of the racing line, just to impede Power. It was a block. Helio got what he deserved. Helio has always been a blocker. Stop being apologists for your boy.

  6. SkipinSC Says:

    My first impression, watching the move live, was that Helio had been jobbed. I yelled at my wife to watch it and she agreed (it is worth noting, however, that she has been an Helio fan since Dancing with the Stars; myself, not so much.)

    The more I watched the replays, however, the more I thought that JP is right: The second move, the drift to the outside (left), was the chiller, and it was very fortunate that Will Power was on his toes, or all three might have wound up in the barricades.

    It is true Helio has been guilty of this type of move on many other occasions, and, while Brian Barnhart certainly could have handled it better in terms of explanation, in this case, he was correct in my opinion.

    I agree, that the controversy spurred media interest in what was otherwise a snooze-fest. Maybe the addition of turbochargers in 2012 can alleviate this problem, but something HAS to happen. With as much open space as is available on an airport layout, the lack of competitive racing was pretty appalling.

  7. This was an absolute nonsense decision. That officials decided to draw up specific wording regarding track placement when defending a position, shows an inherent lack of understanding of motor racing – it would be interesting to know if any drivers were consulted prior to the implementation of this rule and if so, who?
    In my eyes, blocking is when someone moves more than once to defend a position; often called weaving. While Helio came close to this when he swung back toward the racing line, he did not weave here.

    Yesterday afternoon, I watched as Ferrari cheated me out of a perfectly good Formula 1 race and last night I watched as IndyCar officials cheated me out of a perfectly good battle for the lead. I may not be as fickle as many “fans” who are ready to claim that they will drop the sport at the tip of a hat, but I can understand completely if the casual viewer decides to dismiss the sport from here on in. The penalty was intrusive and unnecessary and capped off what was a fairly poor race.

    Other than that, Edmonton is not a racing circuit and never has been – in my opinion the straights are too short and the corners too fast to make passing a workable goal. Much of the overtaking witnessed yesterday happened mainly following an error or backmarker problem and that isn’t racing either.

  8. I’m as uneducated as possible when it comes to blocking rules. I don’t know anything about proper racing lines or first moves or second moves or any of that. Having confessed my ignorance, let me throw out an opinion. If you blatently move your racecar in a reckless and dangerous manner to prevent a pass and endanger other racers then that should be blocking and the rules should be enforced consistantly and immediately. I didn’t see that yesterday, but what the heck–it made for an interesting ending.

    Which brings me to my main point. I originally thought it was good news when Edmonton agreed to stage races for three more years. Now–I wish they’d folded the whole deal. It was very. very boring–personally the worst race of the year by far. The “red cars” looked like they raced in a different class from the others. Airport courses are freakin’ ugly and confusing–it’s like watching marbles roll around on a card table. Phantom yellows to bunch up the field. The drivers seemed more excited about Ganassi winning the Brickyard than their own race and Willpower looked sedated. As I mentioned on P-dog: If this was the first Indy race I’d ever seen, I doubt that I’d watch another one. (And now they build on their “momentum” by not having a race next week?)

    • redd,

      “it’s like watching marbles roll around on a card table” – Amen.

      There is nothing pretty about watching a race on an airport course. I don’t know what it is, but it seemed like they shot that entire race from a blimp, or the roof of a building 1 mile away. I felt like I needed a telescope to see the cars and I was watching the race on a 46″ HD TV. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

      I know it’s heresy to say it, but the ending was the most entertaining part of the whole race. Maybe I’m too casual of a fan, but I think that from a PR standpoint the controversy over “the block” is probably the best thing to happen to IndyCar all season.

      • Cleveland’s airport was pretty :idea: Perhaps it was the boats & the lake… & oh yeah the AWESOME racing action (that Edmonton doesn’t have as much as…) :!:

  9. Travis R Says:

    Between this and the F1 race, it certainly made for an interesting weekend of racing. I’m honestly not sure what to say about the block. I’m a Will Power fan, but I didn’t think what Helio did was that bad. My definition of blocking is the same as Leigh explained, and as Dylan24 said, at that rate you could pretty much scrutinize 3/4 of the passing and find blocking. Nonetheless, I thought it was some good racing for the win. As Power attacked from the outside, I was excited to see how it would turn out, and it was interesting to see how Dixon was able to capitalize. It seemed like Dixon closed the gap pretty quickly. That surprised me more than anything.

    In other news, will Milka potentially be parked now that she spun on the first lap (wasn’t it about turn 2 or 3?) and didn’t maintain pace again?

    And, once again, Simona’s results certainly didn’t reflect her effort. She ran a great race until Viso tapped her, and it kind of went downhill from there.

    Finally, I think KV Racing deserves some attention. Although it wasn’t without incident, all 4 drivers finished on the lead lap and in running condition! They finished 6th (Tracy), 7th (Moraes), 8th (Viso), and 9th (Sato). The guys at the shop have to be happy about that, and that’s gotta be their best weekend of the year.

  10. According to the rules they go over at every drivers meeting it was a block. But the rules are a joke. Why did they change. What happened to ‘pick your line and do not move off it based on what you see in the mirrors’?
    The new definition was a joke at Indy. It was a joke when rahal used it as an excuse to punt Briscoe. It was a joke when they screwed Helio.

    Barnhart has systematically redefined how rto race. He made a sham out of starts and restarts. The closing of pits is a joke. And he has destroyed the legitimacy of honest passing

    As far as helio grabbing Charles goes. He deserves a pass. It was done in pleading, not in aggression.

    • Totally agree. If HCN was throwin’ punches NHL style… different story. Besides Charles was SMILING the whole time. He was calming HCN down & allowing some R&D to be performed for IZOD (collar testing) :)

  11. Forrest Tanaka Says:

    After initially feeling outraged at the penalty to Helio, I’ve come around. The no-blocking rule — a different rule to the one used in Formula 1 — has been around for years and has been applied many times during its existence. Though the IndyCar rulebook seems to be unavailable to the public, it seems to state that you cannot take an inside lane to a turn unless you’re passing someone. Helio took the inside lane to that turn and he wasn’t passing anyone. He clearly broke the rule, and he was penalized.

    Andretti, Rahal, and Townsend-Bell all did the same move at the 2010 Indianapolis 500, and all were penalized. Barnhart said the rule wasn’t applied consistently at Indy because the stewards didn’t see all of them.

    It sounds like the drivers are told this rule at each race that it applies; they should all be well aware of it. Helio was already penalized for the same move at Detroit in 2010, and Barnhart had almost the same word-for-word explanation then. Helio should be very aware of this rule. If he wants to complain that the rule exists, then he should.

  12. indygrrl Says:

    I guess Danica is exempt from the rule–is that called the “Women Driver Rule?” And Milka is simply a rolling block. Helio was robbed–rules must be consistent, I see no consistency here with the calling of blocks. They may repeat it over and over in the driver’s meetings–do they repeat it over and over int he official’s meetings or just say–“Hey randomly call blocking and it will be OK?”

    Bad time to make an example of Helio because “he does this all the time”–Moraes is constantly taking out his competitors and saying “It’s not my fault”–can we add an “It’s not my fault” rule as well?

  13. As much as I hate to do a “copy/paste” (wait, no I don’t), I wrote up some thoughts at Pressdog’s site this morning. In the interests of contributing to this parallel conversation…

    My opinion: not a block. I’m no Helio fan, and I spend a lot of time screaming on my site about blocking (OK, I only post there about twice a year, but at least one of those posts mentions blocking), and I felt that Helio picked a disadvantageous line into the corner to defend. What he didn’t do, though, was make a second move (or third move – see Hamilton, Lewis – Maylasia 2010), or make a move halfway down the straightaway in order to compromise somebody else (I’m not counting the feint toward the outside right before corner entry, because that didn’t affect Power at all; Will was way further to the left). Those are the things that I think are blocking. What Helio did was pick a line and stick with it. However…

    We’ve got two problems:
    1) The rule, as it’s written, seems to indicate that you always, as the leading driver, have to take a “normal line” into a corner. This is news to me, of course, because leaders seemingly always take subtly different lines to affect the guy behind. On the ovals, this is what I call “the ol’ passive aggressive”, where the leading driver goes low, the trailing driver goes high (or vice versa), and then the leading car juuuusssst slides over to squeeze the car behind right before the corner so as to make the trailing car lift. Hornish was the Gold Standard at this. Danica (and Helio and several others) are very good at it too (I watched Danica do it to Helio for about 15 laps when she was a lap down and he was trying to get by her at Kansas this year). This is never called blocking, but if what Helio did yesterday was an official block, then this action (among others) should be too. This brings us to #2…

    2) The blocking rules are seldom enforced. That’s where the sense of impropriety comes in here and this is where I go from “Brian Barnhart gets a bit of a bum rap, except that he’s awful at policing starts and restarts” to “Brian Barnhart needs to get his walking papers no later than Jan. 1, 2011″. Really, I think he’s gotta go now. Allowing the entire thing to unfold the way it did, from the writing of the rule to the nearly nonexistent enforcement except for in occasional high profile cases, that’s a black eye for the sport.

  14. billytheskink Says:

    I don’t think I’ve got much to say that hasn’t already been said.
    It was a good call in that it enforced the rules laid down in the driver’s meeting.
    It was a poor call because it wasn’t incredibly obvious and the blocking rules are so inconsistently enforced.

    I hear a lot about Danica’s block on Kanaan at Texas, it was a very blatant chop. I was at the Texas race and saw it, and should have been surprised she wasn’t penalized, especially considering how the black flags were flying the previous week at Indy.
    But I wasn’t surprised, because everyone, EVERYONE, was throwing nasty blocks at Texas. It was the inconsistency we’ve all come to expect from BB.

    This inconsistency sends the message to drivers that they can push the envelope every race and Barnhardt will unfurl the black flag rarely, and at random. Drivers will do something “illegal” as long as you regularly let them, just look at the past several years of starts…

  15. Judy in Texas Says:

    Why does the IRL continue to shoot itself in the foot? With a new title sponsor, new CEO, upcoming chassis changes, decent TV coverage, competitive racing (at least among three teams), and drivers whose names we now recognize and who actually have fan bases, things were beginning to look up.

    Then a seldom used penalty is thrown in the final laps of a race completely changing the result. Now the only thing people are talking about is Barnhart’s call against Helio. It was ill-advised at best and just plain arrogant at worst.

    As someone said on the Sirius NASCAR channel this morning, it might be easy to distinguish such an infraction on a normal racetrack with 2, 3 or even 4 lanes. But this one was at least 100 yards wide without a marking of any sort.

    I agree with you who say that Barnhart needs to go.

  16. This side of the Río Grande, ESPN commentarist Alex Pombo wasn’t diplomatic at all and defended Hélio’s move, just like you and me. He clearly took the inside line and should have never been given a penalty.

    Versus directing was unusually bad, not too far from what we saw at Watkins Glen. If the first six drivers were two second apart each, they should have switched to the mid pack (most of the time) and closeup and on-board cameras of drivers tackling corners 3-5 and 13-14. Sadly there was little to show most of the time, but they could at least changed shots more frequently.

  17. Sorry for my second copy/paste comment of the day, but I just noticed something while watching the race on the DVR.

    Please, anybody who has access to the race, direct your attention to the lap 54 restart. We had Power, Helio, Hideki (a lap down), Briscoe, TK, Dixon, Tags and Romancini in line, in that order. By the time cars hit start/finish, TK had pulled to the right (to the inside line, which Helio would make us all very familiar with 40 laps later) for some reason. Maybe he’d had a problem and was letting Dixon by (Dixon went by pretty early in the braking zone), maybe he was…ahem…”defending”. Anyway, Dixon passes TK to the outside, Tags attempts to pass TK to the outside, which leads to contact that spins Tags and collects Romancini.

    Now, the point is: if Helio was blocking by taking the inside line (and he took it right off the last corner and never deviated), then why would TK swinging down to the inside line halfway down the straightaway not be considered blocking? No penalty for TK yesterday, right? Mr. Barnhart? Anybody?

  18. Jim Bob Says:

    Barnhart Bashing seems as in vogue nowadays as Duno Bashing.

    Guess what George? Tony Cotman thought it was a block. Al Unser Jr. thought it was a block. Most every driver in the series thought it was a block.

    Helio got what he deserved. He has blocked more times in his Indy Car career and barely ever been penalized, then most NFL offensive lineman do in a NFL game. Its probably why the guy has never won a championship. If he paid more attention to driving his car and not mirror-driving, he might have more good finishes and score more points.

    The constant whining about Barnhart has to stop. Seems like every guy either CART or Champ Car or Indy Car have put in that position has been treated the same way and thought of the same way. Its a thankless job. All of these drivers whine and cry like girls and many of their owners are no better.

    So we get rid of Barnhart and replace him with Unser Jr? Then what? He makes the same call and then we can start ripping Little Al for being a drunk and a “Penske Guy” too. Or we can say that Unser Jr is “too close to the current drivers/series” to be objective. Or we can say that Unser Jr has a grudge to get back at certain drivers he may have raced against or certain team owners he raced against.

    Nothing will change. Just because Robin Miller has gotten some of you into a froth with his constant and borderline goofy obsession with Barnhart and his love for his BFF Cotman, doesn’t mean Robin knows what the hell he is talking about. Shocking as it is, Robin sometimes has axes to grind and agendas to carry on.

    Not saying he was right or wrong in this deal. Its a subjective call. If he didn’t make it, he’d be getting ripped by Ganassi and everybody for being a Penske puppet. He can’t win.

    • billytheskink Says:

      Get rid of Barnhardt and replace him with Bill Elliot. Everyone loves Bill Elliot.

    • Jim Bob,

      Credit to you for a voice of reason.

      Click on my name above if you’d like to read more.

      • indygrrl Says:

        Get rid of Barnhardt and replace him with Roy Hobbson. Everyone loves Hobbson. Raise your spatulas high!

        What’s wrong with Duno bashing–they might as well put a hunk of safer barrier out there with a skateboard under it, it would probably stay out of the way more.

  19. S S Minnow Says:

    Does anyone have an email address fopr Brian Barhart so that we may voice our comments to him?

    So who did win the Edmonton race if Dixon thereafter then blocked Powers in turn 2?

  20. Forrest Tanaka Says:

    Dixon took the inside lane into turn 2 while passing Will Power. That’s precisely what the rules allow and encourage. Castroneves took the inside lane into turn 1 while passing nobody, as there was nobody to pass. This is specifically *not* allowed. The two moves aren’t comparable, so Barnhart would be inconsistent to penalize both of these moves.

    Someone mentioned Moraes always getting away with blocks. I’ve seen him chop people (entering a turn on the OUTSIDE lane, then moving to the inside at the apex while someone was passing him). To support an accusation of inconsistency against Barnhart, it’d be interesting to come up with video of specific instances where Moraes entered a turn on the inside lane while passing nobody. That would make a good case.

    Someone else mentioned Danica chopping someone. Chopping isn’t blocking, since a chop requires the first driver to enter a turn in the OUTSIDE lane. Why one is penalized and the other isn’t, I can’t explain.

    Duno a rolling block? Only if she enters every corner on the inside lane while passing nobody.

    People all over the Internet seem to want to conflate chopping and being slow with the IndyCar definition of blocking, and Barnhart’s been quite consistent and specific in his explanation, as his words after Detroit 2008, Edmonton 2010, and Indy 2010 have been nearly identical. People also want to use the Formula 1 definition of blocking, but the FIA and IndyCar have different definitions of blocking.

  21. I just read your observations, so, way late, but had to chime in:
    1, You called it exactly correct re: Helio NOT blocking, but holding his racing line.

    1, You said Danica was blocking Kanaan at Texas last year.
    What race were you watching? It was Tony Kanaan repeatedly chopping, blocking and otherwise driving like a dangerous jerk, not Patrick.

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