So another work week is wrapping up, with a Saturday night INDYCAR race waiting for us. Don’t worry; I am not going all Rebecca Black. However, all week the biggest chatter among the INDYCAR fans on-line has been a lack of penalties to Dario Franchitti.
While many fans have a very valid point that the series needs rules with consistent enforcement. “Black & White” as many have called for, would mean if you violate there is no exceptions. Well, this is more of a NASCAR like move. Once upon a time, you could get a penalty there because if the rear tire changer had the car behind them hit the tire out of his hand and it went out on pit road, well the rule book clearly said you will serve a penalty for letting a tire get away. (They did not have an exact exemption for other teams making it get away). In the 1980s they tried a no exceptions rule of pit road being closed when a yellow came out until they opened it. That included cars that were the reason for the yellow. (YES, they did penalize teams for coming down pit road with a flat tire. Although it only was a rule that lasted about three races).
Consider the Dixon & Sato accident on pit road at the mile. (If you got to see the replays. My local ABC feed was choppy, a nice friend sent me that section from his DVR Monday to watch. Heard Dixon’s spotter drop the F-bomb. Now I know why there was a jump in coverage.)
When Sato was counted down to his pit, he started for the wrong pit of the 6 thinking he was on top of his. As he made the wrong move he and Dixon collided. Dixon hit one of his own tires causing it to bounce down pit road. Sato then got out and instead hit his tire changer and tire in his pit upon entry. (That contact earned Sato a penalty. Which I believe is also Sato’s first penalty in INDYCAR as well).
Dixon also hit a tire which in a “black & white” world means the 9 also should serve a penalty, no? Well that is correct, see the slippery slope of black & white rule calls is then you penalize too many people. Remember the excessive blocking calls in the 2010 Indianapolis 500?
So careful what you wish for, you might just get it.
The bigger thing fans should be talking (or “tweeting) about was O2 Racing leaving the Firestone Indy Lights Series. This is a podium level team that withdrew the day of the race. They complained about a system that rewards favoritism. Technical violations are over looked for some teams.
Well, while it is two different sets of people who are in-charge of officiating the FIL and the IZOD INDYCAR Series. However what was formerly known as the IRL, is the umbrella group for both series. Many have made the same charges this week about the big cars. Hell, Dario complained in victory lane live on ABC and IMS Radio about Helio blocking. There is a driver complaining about their officials not calling him on a rules violation.
Although many say this is “the kettle calling the pot black”. See, Dario hit Will Power’s front tire and tossed the changer off it. According to the rules that should be a penalty. Well it was treated more like Dixon hitting a tire when forced by Sato.
The problem is the formula was rigged by a few people recently. A select group of owners have a “Get out of jail free” card. Although it varies by series; in the big series Penske and Ganassi have their own set of rules, in Lights we are still unaware of all the details. It seems that cheating is even more prevalent in the “farm system”.
This is very troublesome for a series that needs to groom more stars. Imagine if the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A farm team) discovered that the International League had a separate set of rules for the Scranton Yankees and Pawtucket Red Sox? What would this tell the other parent clubs like the Phillies? Simple, MLB doesn’t care because they just want to promote the Red Sox & Yankees on national games. So why even bother trying to build a winning team when the league’s pet will be handed the wins?
The majority of teams in the IZOD INDYCAR Series are the Phillies or Rays of INDYCAR. Are we really saying the whole sport is built around two owners dominating and have a free pass to do as they wish? I seem to see it. Will it really matter if Barnhart is fired when his possible replacement is also in training to do the very same thing?
You think those empty seats at the mile were a joke? Just wait until the dirty secret explodes. You don’t just groom drivers and mechanics in the Lights. The Mazda Road to Indy, just like minor league baseball is where you groom future officials too. If you want fair officiating in the big cars, you better get it in the lights as well. Otherwise, get the tombstone ready.
NOTE: Starting with the next race, the “Indy Hump Day Report” will be my fantasy racing column, with my Op-Ed pieces coming on Fridays now. Still working on a name for the Friday pieces, I am tempted to make an INDYCAR parody of Rebecca Black. I welcome all suggestion in the comments section. The zanier the more likely you will win.