Was Scott Dixon’s Fine Justified?

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Last Friday, we learned that Scott Dixon had been fined $30,000 and placed on probation through December 31, for comments made during the Grand Prix of Baltimore. Dixon called Director of Race Control, Beaux Barfield an idiot and that he should be fired for his handling of several calls this season.

When the news came out, I was certainly not surprised. The thing is, based on what I read on Twitter and other forums – it seems that many people were. Some actually thought that Dixon should go unscathed, since he was the victim of what some considered a series of bad calls. Seriously?

Granted, Beaux Barfield has made some questionable calls against the Kiwi during his two seasons in Race Control. Some were blatantly horrible calls (Milwaukee 2012), while some could have gone either way (no call against Graham Rahal at Baltimore this season).

After the pit road tire incident at Sonoma and the lack of a call at Baltimore before Dixon got shoved into the wall by Will Power – Scott Dixon hit the limit. He had seen and endured enough and he went off.

The problem was, he called out Barfield by name and then called him an idiot. Either of those is clearly addressed in the IndyCar rulebook.

There has been a precedent. When Will Power shot the double-bird after the New Hampshire race in 2011 – he was directing those birds directly toward where Brian Barnhart was stationed. The two-handed salute was clearly meant for Barnhart. Unfortunately, they happened to be caught by ABC’s cameras for live worldwide viewing. If I’m not mistaken, Power incurred the same penalty – a $30,000 fine and probation through the end of the year.

Some will say that the bad calls have been mounting up more against Dixon for some time and that IndyCar should look the other way. I disagree.

I’m not saying that the calls against Dixon weren’t bad. They were. I agreed that he should have been penalized for hitting Will Power’s crewmember at Sonoma, but some of the calls were downright terrible. But it doesn’t matter.

No matter the sport – if a participant publicly calls out the officiating, they are going to be punished. In the NFL, a coach doesn’t even need to name names. He can just stand at the podium after a game and talk about the poor officiating and wind up with a FedEx letter from the league later on that week. Have you ever seen the result of a baseball manager or player arguing balls and strikes? It can lead to an early shower.

Whether you approve of the job Beaux Barfield is doing or not – you can’t call for him to be fired and call him an idiot on national TV and expect no consequences. Regardless of a driver’s opinion of Barfield, you have to be professional and treat his position with respect.

A few weeks ago, I got my first speeding ticket in twelve years. It was an obvious speed trap. When I topped a hill, I spotted three police cars with their blue lights on, while they were just waving cars over. As soon as I saw the lights, I looked at my dash. My digital speedometer said I was doing fifty-three mph. The officer informed me I was doing sixty-one. Either way, I was speeding because the speed limit was forty-five. But the difference between fifty-three and sixty-one is a much bigger fine. I pointed out that my dash said fifty-three, but he reiterated I was doing sixty-one (I know I wasn’t).

Did I call him an idiot? Did I say he needed to lose his job? No and no. Why not? Because I know I would have suffered an even more severe fine or punishment. Although I was seething on the inside at myself, the officer and the whole situation – I stayed quiet.

To his credit, I haven’t heard Scott Dixon whining about the fine. He may still have the same opinion of Barfield, but after cooling down, he probably had a strong idea a fine was coming, regardless of how bad he got hosed in the race.

When Dixon opined on live television that Power’s crewmember walking toward Dixon’s car with a tire in his hand was a d**k move; some were screaming for Dixon’s head then. I read some holier-than-thou type saying that Dixon should be suspended for the next race for using such language. Please. It was the heat of the moment and Dixon had a microphone in his face the first time he saw the replay. I had no problem with it whatsoever and actually found it quite funny.

But when you are publicly attacking the officiating crew, calling them by name and calling them names – that’s a different story. It would undermine the credibility of the entire sport if that were to go unpunished.

So, was Scott Dixon’s fine justified? Yes. Whether you like Beaux Barfield or hate him – Scott Dixon took his lumps and accepted his punishment like an adult. Perhaps many of the disgruntled fans should do likewise.

George Phillips

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7 Responses to “Was Scott Dixon’s Fine Justified?”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    While I agree that Dixie has been shafted recently with regard to race control calls, some action must be taken when any team member acts in this way. However, I think if you are going to penalize someone, both a fine AND a reduction of championship points should be incurred. IMHO a fine alone does little to prevent a reoccurrence.

  2. I am getting sick of the profanity being used everywhere, about everything. So I did not appreciate his his comment during the interview. There was a time he would have been fined for that, and should have been. Suspension might have been a little too much. The “heat of the moment” reasoning would not work as an excuse for me if I used such language here at work representing my company.

    As for the comments about the decision, if he had said idiotic decision rather than personally calling someone an idiot, I think he could have escaped that fine. The way he said it, something was bound to happen.

  3. I think Scott is a true professional and a stand-up guy. He made those comments in the heat of the moment, and I’m sure that after he cooled off, he regretted saying what he did.

    He accepted his punishment like the man he is. Incident over. Let’s get back to racing…oh, I forgot, we have to wait another month. Really?

  4. Since the stores will probably be putting Christmas stuff out before the next IndyCar race, I think I will just start watching NASCAR.
    One can always count on better officiating and better driver behaviour there.

    I will say this about racing in general: Unlike the other major sports you don’t get most of your racing news in the daily police report. (Except for George)

  5. billytheskink Says:

    Not thinking before speaking in anger has consequences in real life, sports should be no different.

    At Sears Point, I just assumed Dixon was comparing Power’s crewman to Dick Simon… and then I realized Scott Dixon never raced against Dick Simon.
    I would have been comfortable with a fine for those words too, though that may be because I’m a total prude.

  6. Who gets the 30 grand anyway–Barfield? The Penske crew guy? Clabber Girl? They could give everyone who watched the Sonoma race on television a share–that should work out to four or five hundred each.

    I think Indycar should be fined for not bothering to schedule more than one race in a two-month period.

  7. The guy and his equipment were within his own pit box. I mean, why even have a defined pit box if the boundaries don’t mean anything? I don’t pretend to know the exact wording of the rules, but it seems wrong to me that anyone should be allowed to be hitting anything, man or machine, that’s in another pit box. Dixon hit a crewman, a tire, and a hose in Power’s pit. I can’t believe some people think this does not deserve a penalty, but then again, this is the internet. Also, none of Dixon’s previous defenders are coming forward to argue he should have gotten a reprieve for hitting all of this stuff in a competitor’s pit. I think this is probably because in the beginning not everyone realized Dixon was almost completely in Power’s box and that he also hit a hose/gun inside of Power’s box. Now that the facts have been brought forward I think any new poll taken on the matter would look completely different from the one started on Sunday. Initially I was disappointed that the race (and maybe the championship) was ruined, but once someone posted a picture with the pit boxes outlined in red, and then hearing Beau’s explaination, it became pretty clear Barfield had no other choice but hand out a penalty.

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