In the closing laps of the July 25 IndyCar race in Edmonton, Alberta, Helio Castroneves was in the lead when the green flag waved following a caution period. Castroneves, under pressure from teammate Will Power, held his line into the first corner and actually gave Power more racing room than I would have. IndyCar officials didn’t see it that way, and threw a black flag on Castroneves for blocking. The Brazilian driver, understandably upset, refused to honor the black flag and completed the race, crossing the finish line first. It didn’t matter, as IndyCar officials awarded the victory to Scott Dixon. Will Power, Castroneves’ teammate and the reason behind the controversy, finished second before accusing his fellow Penske driver of blocking in a post-race interview.
Things went from bad to worse for Castroneves when he climbed out of the car. At 4:55 in the above video, you can see him grab the shirt of Charles Burns, IndyCar’s head of security. He quickly calms down, but the damage was done: facing a possible suspension from the series, Castroneves was able to plea-bargain his charge down to a $60,000 fine and probation for the rest of the season.
I think this was perhaps the worst call I’ve ever seen in racing, and it left me scratching my head as a fan. I’m all for keeping open wheel racing safe, since bad things happen when tires touch at over 150 miles per hour. Look at Mike Conway’s Indy 500 crash if you need to see an example. Still, IndyCar has closer racing and more on-track battles than Formula One, which is why I keep turning on the series race after race. I’m not a big fan of Castroneves, but I’m even less of a fan of oppressive officiating. Castroneves won the race in Edmonton, and more bad calls like this one will only serve to drive away the few fans IndyCar has left. Trust me guys, you can’t afford to lose more viewers.