IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield insists that he was correct to penalize Ganassi’s Scott Dixon for the pitlane collision with a Penske crew member during Sunday’s race at Sonoma.
Dixon was leading ahead of Will Power when the pair stopped together on lap 65 at the end of their third stint. Dixon’s pit box was directly behind Power’s, and Ganassi was able to complete his stop and get him out while Penske was still working on Power’s car. But due to the tight pitlane, Dixon cut through the corner of Power’s pit box just as Travis Law, Power’s right-rear wheel man, was walking back to the pitwall.
Dixon’s car clipped the tire that Law was carrying, flipping him into the air, while two other Penske crew members were also brought down after being caught by the air hose. All three escaped injury, and Dixon was issued a drive-through penalty that relegated him to 21st, although he later recovered to 15th.
The penalty prompted outrage from Ganassi, but Barfield is adamant that it was fair.
“You can see the difference between the Target and the Verizon signs on the pitwall, and if you look at that with the 9 [Dixon] car leaving the pitlane you clearly see that he goes right into the pitbox of the 12 [Power] car, and that’s where the violation occurred,” Barfield said.
“From the overhead, he’s actually in the pitbox for the car in front of him by a solid half car-length. So that made it easy for us to make the call.
“You look at risk versus reward; the risk of hurting somebody in pitlane versus gaining a couple of tenths or even a second in pitlane is certainly not worth it, and not something that we’re going to look away from and not penalize.”
DIXON: PENSKE’S ACTIONS BLATANT
Dixon, whose title hopes were dealt a blow by the incident, remained convinced that Penske had interfered with his stop deliberately.
“It looks like he [the crew member] walked straight into our car,” he said. “You could see where the other car in front of us was pitted and he walked into us, on purpose. That’s probably the most blatant thing I’ve seen in a long time.”
Accusations of sabotage were swiftly rejected by Team Penske owner Roger Penske.
“Our man who changed the tire picked the tire up, [and] was running behind the car. It wasn’t that he stuck the tire out. He didn’t leave the tire on the ground where it could have been in the way.
“I think they’re way overplaying this thing as far as I’m concerned. Obviously the 9 car was too close to our crew and had an accident there. The outcome is obvious. So I feel bad for Scott. [But] these are things that are pretty clear in the rule book. If a team member gets hit in the pits, there’s a drive-through.”