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Franchitti Takes Back Lead While Kanaan Wins

Tony Kanaan won the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday – his third victory in the last four races.But a crash involving championship contenders Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon on the next-to-last lap put Franchitti back into the points lead heading into next week’s season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

Dixon was running third and Franchitti fourth on the penultimate lap when Dixon attempted to pass second-place Buddy Rice, whose car ran out of fuel and slowed suddenly heading into Turn 13.

Rice slid into the tyre barrier, but Dixon, quick on the throttle and out of sorts from Rice’s sudden deceleration, began a quarter spin to his right. Dixon’s car stopped in the middle of the track and rolled back, collecting Franchitti.

“It was the most bizarre thing,” Franchitti said. “We were sitting there staring at each other. There’s no yellow flag that I know of, so the safety guys can’t come out and help me. No reverse gear, so I’m just sitting there. That upset me more than the incident itself.”

Franchitti, who kept the engine fired during the incident, finally coaxed safety workers into a push, got the No. 27 Andretti Green Racing Honda/Dallara rolling again and crossed the finish line sixth. That was good for a two-position gain and a seven-point swing on Dixon, whose engine died after the crash.

“I said this was going to be a hell of a championship battle, and it’s going to be,” Franchitti said. “We want to win and they want to win. On the track, we don’t take any prisoners.”

Michael Andretti, co-owner of AGR, accused Dixon of purposely wrecking Franchitti by staying off the brake and letting the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda/Dallara roll back in front of Franchitti’s car.

“Poor sportsmanship is what I saw,” Andretti said. “He took Dario out on purpose. He saw that Dario was going to be able to get by him, so he let off the brake and took Dario out. It was totally on purpose.”

Dixon said the incident never would have happened had Rice not ran out of fuel and slowed in front of him heading into a sharp turn.

“I wasn’t trying to pass Buddy,” Dixon said. “I was in a good position and would not have risked it, but he ran out of fuel. I sideswiped Buddy but tried to keep going. I was just trying to stay ahead of Franchitti for valuable points.”

The tangle between leaders also led to an angry confrontation between AGR co-owner Kevin Savoree and Ganassi, whose teams were pitted next to one another. Savoree reportedly confronted Ganassi after the crash. The two exchanged angry words before walking away.

“It’s part of the game,” Kanaan said. “People are trying to get everything they can. People are trying to do anything they can to disrupt the other team.

“Anything you can do to gain an advantage is fair game. It’s been so close and the fight for the championship has been so hard. They play every card they get, and we play every card we get.”

Lost in the action and anger was Kanaan’s fifth victory of the season, one that – coupled with the late crash – brought him to within 39 points of the lead, still capable of stealing the championship at Chicago.

“Yes, it’s been crazy, but it’s also been good,” Kanaan said of the intensity of the duel between Andretti Green and Ganassi.

“As drivers, we always get along. We’re one big family. But sometimes it’s good to have what we have now. I’m not saying the bad stuff and the fighting are good things, but we’re humans. We’re under pressure.”

But the drama in what had been a run-of-the-mill street race began when Rice’s car sputtered and slowed dramatically heading into Turn 13 on the 88th lap of the 89-lap race. Rice apologized to Ganassi, his team manager, Mike Hull, and Franchitti following the race.

“I just feel bad,” Rice said. “They were cool and they understand. It wasn’t like I was trying to crash. It’s just disappointing to be involved in the championship that way.”

Dixon ducked inside on the right-hand turn, brushed Rice’s No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Honda/Dallara, and then spun sideways to his right under acceleration.

The car stopped sideways in mid-track, then rolled back in front of Franchitti, a move that angered almost everyone in the AGR pits except Franchitti.

“Some people think it was intentional,” Franchitti said. “I just know that, apart from (two incidents of blocking), Scott has raced me cleanly all year and I’ve raced him cleanly. So going on past form, I don’t think he would have done it intentionally.”

Dixon scoffed at the notion that he would be good enough or quick enough to intentionally roll his car back in front of Franchitti’s. “I would never have done anything intentional,” Dixon said.

However, Kanaan, who was criticized the previous week by Dixon after Kanaan’s controversial effort to protect Franchitti in the late laps at Infineon Raceway, took Sunday’s opportunity to accuse Dixon of intentionally staying off the brake in order to block Franchitti.

“I strongly believe he did it on purpose,” Kanaan said. “Now he can say no; we can’t prove it. He can say, ‘I was crashing and I couldn’t reach the brakes.’ Brian Barnhart always tells us in the drivers’ meetings that there are some parts of the rules that race control cannot judge.

“Only we, the people who drive the race cars, will know. Do I think it was on purpose? Yes. But what he said last week is true: What goes around comes around.”

Overshadowed in the late-race drama, ironically enough, was the best finish of Danica Patrick’s career, a runner-up effort that most likely would have been a fifth-place effort had Rice, Dixon and Franchitti not crashed.

“It was a fun-filled day for me,” Patrick said. “We weren’t the fastest car, but we were fast enough to be there to be in contention and be there to do something about it, which was half the battle.”

Wheldon, accused by Franchitti of holding him up earlier in the race, scored a surprising podium. “It was good from our standpoint to finish among the top three,” Wheldon said. “It’s a little unfortunate for Scott, but he’s still in a great position to be able to win the championship.”

Following Kanaan, Patrick and Wheldon were Darren Manning and Kosuke Matsuura, who recorded his second-best finish of the season.

The crash victims – Franchitti, Rice and Dixon – finished sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, while Vision Racing teammates A.J. Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter held down ninth and 10th.

The only other serious incident in the day cost Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter solid finishes, as the two collided in Turn 1.

“Maybe he should start thinking about driving and stop thinking about dancing,” Scheckter quipped, referring to Castroneves’ upcoming appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.” “Because that was a stupid move.”

Dixon Takes Championship Lead

Dario Franchitti Gets No Support From His TeamThe Indycar Championship is a dying breed. One of the few old school top level motorsport championships, that is one that does not feature a “Chase to the Championship” or “Countdown to the Championship”, just a plain old season long most points wins the championship championship.

Dario Franchitti has been dominating the championship this year, but recently has seen his points lead eroded, all the way down to 8 points coming in to this weekends race at Sonoma, just north of San Francisco. Dario got everything right in qualifying and took the pole from a recently great in qualifying Danica Patrick. SO far everything was looking good for Franchitti.

Into the race and everything went to plan. Franchitti led and seemed to have everything under control, controlling the pace of the race mid distance ahead of title rivals, teammate Tony Kanan and Scott Dixon. Things were still looking good going into the last round of pitstops with under 20 laps to go, but it wasn’t to last.

Franchitti made his pitstop and was back in the lead, however Marco Andretti had left his pitstop late and leapfrogged the field to come out of the pits right in front of Franchitti. As they headed up the hill after the first corner, Andretti appeared to leave the window open slightly for Franchitti, so Franchitti dived up the inside. Andretti however closed the door as he headed for the apex, and the two Andretti Green teammates clashed, putting Marco into the wall, and leaving Franchitti with a broken front wing.

Under the resulting yellow, Franchitti still held the lead, but he did not know what effect the damaged wing would have, and whether he could hold on to the lead of the race. As soon as it went green they all bunched up behind him as he could not turn into the corner at the top of the hill, and suddenly both Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves were past him in a flash, with Tony Kanan right behind him.

So that was the way the race ran out, with Dixon taking the win, followed closely by Castroneves, then a large gap back to Franchitti, followed closely by Kanan, who spent the last few laps slowing up the rest of the field to ensure Franchitti finished third, in the process sacrificing his own chances at the championship.

“It was a pretty perfect day right up until Marco and I got together,” Franchitti said. “He was out there on cold tires going a good bit slower. Tony and I had a similar situation earlier in the race. Tony had given me the space. Hell, even Dixon did it on cold tires. But Marco was out there trying to win the race, and we were out there trying to win a championship.

“A case of, I guess, he had his priorities, I had mine. I really want to look at it and talk to Marco. We’re teammates. We look after each other and that shouldn’t happen.”

Team co-owner Michael Andretti said Franchitti should have been more patient with his son’s car, which Marco agreed.

“I gave racing room, and I was hoping he would race me clean,” said Andretti, who won the race in 2006. “I hate to think he’d do anything intentional. I was saving so much fuel, and that was the win right there. If we would have played fair, that would have happened.”
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Said Franchitti: “Michael is in an awkward position as a team owner and a father. Sometimes he doesn’t have as clear a view as he should have as a team owner maybe. I’m trying my hardest to win a championship right now for Andretti Green Racing. We’ll leave it at that.”

After his win Scott Dixon commented “The race was all about strategies, We were trying to save fuel early on. All kinds of people were trying to do the same things. Very hard to tell what was going on until sort of the last stint.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of momentum out of the three (July race wins) in a row, then this last one. To be honest, the last two races they’ve had us covered. For some unknown reason we’ve still come out on top. I think it’s six races in a row we’ve earned more points than them. That is obviously going to cause a bit of questioning within the team and obviously a lot of stress. For us, we’ve just got to play as much as we can on that.

“It’s definitely tough for the amount of points they’ve lost over the course of those races. The more the merrier, to be honest.”

Finishing in 5th behind Kanan was Sam Hornish Jr who could not find a way past Kanan in the closing laps as he was protecting Franchitti. He was followed by Danica Patrick. She showed a lot of performance early in the race, and looked to be on for a 4th place finish, only to stall in the pits during her last pitstop, dropping back to 6th. She is getting stronger race by race, and with so re-organisation for next year expected, she will be right in the Championship fight and I am sure will win her first race.

Getting back to the Andretti Franchitti incident, the comments after the race are very interesting. For a team owner Michael Andretti does not seem to be very worried about winning a Championship. The incident really should be called a racing incident, however in this situation Marco really had no business getting in his Championship leading teammates way. The team should have realised what was going on and really should have not allowed ANdretti to come out in front of Andretti, as he could have slotted into second place as Franchitti had quite a gap over second at that point.

As for Franchitti’s part in this one, he saw a gap and probably thought Marco was moving over for him, after all he is leading the Championship and Marco was nowhere. He went for a gap that was open, and it got closed on him. He can only be happy that at least he did not wreck, but that is about it.

For a team owner Michael Andretti really did himself a dis-service today, and I am sure Dario Franchitti as well as his teammates will think seriously before re-signing for Michael, as today they saw the support they would receive from the team when they are leading the Championship. Michael would have been better to make no comment at all, rather than the nonsense that he did say.

The only team player out there for Andretti Green today was Tony Kanan. He gave up on his own Championship hopes to help out his teammate Franchitti. He could have blown past the ill handling Franchitti at any time, but he chose to stay behind him and protect Franchitti to help the team secure a season Championship, instead of going off and chasing Dixon and Castroneves. Michael Andretti owes Tony Kanan an apology after todays events.

Kannan Wins While Franchitti Flies Again

The IndyCar Series championship race got tighter in more ways than one Saturday night, ending with the series points leader airborne for the second time in seven days.Tony Kanaan won the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, pulling himself to within 52 points of teammate Dario Franchitti in the IndyCar standings with three races remaining.

Scott Dixon finished second and moved to within eight points of Franchitti, who finished eighth and ploughed into the back of Kosuke Matsuura’s car as the chequered flag waved, but escaped injury as his car flipped and smashed into the wall.

Kanaan, considered to be a longshot for the championship two weeks ago, has won the last two races and turned a two-man race into a three-man race.

“It’s almost like the Indy 500,” Kanaan said. “Before the race, nobody was talking about Dario and Dixon. They were talking about me and (Sam) Hornish and Helio (Castroneves). Look what happened. They finished 1-2. Now they’re all talking about Dario and Dixon, and nobody’s talking about me.

“I like that. I don’t have that pressure. It’s going to be really hard for me to win this championship, but the best thing I can do is keep winning races. From now on, they’re being chased by me.”

Kanaan’s 1.7457 second victory over Dixon capped a wild finish in which Franchitti twice made significant mistakes, Danica Patrick came close to challenging for her first victory before spinning twice and nearly hitting a safety vehicle, and A.J. Foyt IV posted a podium finish, the best of his career, after leading with nine laps remaining.

It also ended a day in which Indy Racing League chief executive officer Brian Barnhart placed all IndyCar Series drivers on probation during the pre-race drivers’ meeting, the group penalty for a harrowing, crash-filled race at Michigan the previous weekend.

“There are still some crazy moves out there,” Kanaan said, referring to a run-in he had with Castroneves. “I don’t know if you saw it, but I touched with a lapped car, or a lapped car touched me. Still, I thought it was much better than Michigan. After Brian put us all on probation, we calmed down a little bit.”

Barnhart said he made the move based on the edgy, dangerous racing at Michigan, in which several hard crashes were causes by questionable decisions and positioning.

“It had been a while since we raced like that from both perspectives,” Barnhart said. “I felt that there was a lack of respect from everybody on the racetrack. I was disappointed in that.

“I was disappointed that we can’t go down a straightaway without guys running into each other. I felt it was perfectly clear that we can’t race that way the last four races of the year.

“As far as I am concerned, they did something out of character and out of line from what we expect of them, so I put them all on probation and told them I was going to make sure we don’t race that way.”

Barnhart’s decision didn’t go over well with some teams and drivers, who were looking for the league to hand down individual penalties for rough driving in the Michigan race.

“Everybody seems to be on probation, yet nothing seems to happen,” Dixon said. “It’s quite strange how the league doesn’t seem to jump on some of these people. I’ve been on the receiving end of it, and I think a few others should be.”

While most of Saturday’s race was clean – except for a mid-race spin by Sam Hornish Jr that took out Dan Wheldon – the conclusion turned sloppy.

Franchitti was racing Kanaan for the lead when he slid high in the marbles and dropped to sixth place on the 168th lap of the 200 lap race. Eleven laps later, as he joined the leaders for green-flag pit stops, Franchitti locked his brakes as he encountered the bumpy surface on pit entry and struck a cone, breaking the front wing on his No. 27 Andretti Green Racing Honda/Dallara and dropping him further back in the field.

Then, as he crossed the finish line unaware that the chequered flag was being displayed, Franchitti slammed into the back of Matsuura’s car, sending the No. 27 car into the air and into the fence. Franchitti was not hurt, but he expressed disappointment in the crucial errors.

“I’m pretty disgusted with myself right now,” said Franchitti, who called out Wheldon for a seven-car crash that sent Franchitti airborne at Michigan. “I made my feelings clear on last week’s incident and where I thought the blame was, but this one was all me.”

One of Franchitti’s teammates also encountered late-race trouble. Patrick was running among the top four when she scooted out of the pits after a fuel-only stop only to spin as she prepared to blend back into traffic. She got the car moving again under caution, but spun again as the flat-spotted left rear tyre blew. She spun into the wall, narrowly missing a safety vehicle on the track.

“I really was lucky I missed the medical truck because I was headed straight for him,” Patrick said. “I was coming out of the pits on hot tires, so presumably I should be pretty fast on pit exit. I was using less throttle than normal on it, but it still spun on me. I blistered the tire so bad that it blew when I tried to get going again.”

That crash helped Foyt, who beat Kanaan out of the pits to take the lead. Shortly after the restart, Kanaan passed Foyt with eight laps remaining, and Dixon quickly followed, but Foyt held off Marco Andretti to finish third. It was Foyt’s best finish and the first top-five of his career; his previous career best was eighth the previous week at Michigan.

“I did struggle my first couple of years in the IRL,” Foyt said. “I’m learning more about these cars set-up wise and learning what I like. This is my first year in the IndyCar Series with an engineer, so that helps a lot.”

Following Andretti to the finish line was Foyt’s Vision Racing teammate Tomas Scheckter, who was running second for a time. Scott Sharp was sixth, Ed Carpenter seventh, Franchitti eighth, Castroneves ninth and Vitor Meira 10th.

When the smoke had cleared and the parts had fallen from the sky, Kanaan and Dixon were the ones gaining the most ground, turning Franchitti’s once comfortable lead into a tight run for the championship.

With a road course (Infineon), a street course (Belle Isle) and an oval (Chicagoland) remaining, the stage is set for a two-against-one battle between Andretti Green and Target Chip Ganassi.

“I want my team to win this championship,” Kanaan said. “Either me or Dario, we need to win this championship. I will do whatever it takes. If I need to help my teammate to do that, I will, and I think vice versa. The focus is to get Andretti Green another championship.”

Franchitti Survives Huge Crash While Kannan Wins

IRL series leader took another hit on the points this weekend when he was involved in a huge crash at Michigan, similar to the one that Marco Andretti had earlier in the year at Indianapolis, although Franchitti was airborne for a lot longer, and actually landed upside down on top of Scott Dixons car. The crash was triggered when Franchitti and Wheldon got together a little, both describing it simply as a misunderstanding and a racing incident.

After the crash only 7 cars were left on the track, with the three surviving Andretti Green Racing cars of Tony Kannan, Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick fighting it out for the lead. Danica suffered a puncture and had to pit, leaving Kannan and Andretti running together ahead of Scott Sharp.

The last few laps saw a titanic battle between Kannan and Andretti, with the pair running side by side on most laps. Kannan however managed to get to the finish line ahead of Andretti, with Sharp coming home in 3rd.

With Franchitti out of the race, the both Chip Ganassi teams worked feverishly on Dixon’s car to try to get him back on the track, and after 26 laps he did return to the track, but really never got back up to speed, but did post a 10th place finish to gain some points on Franchitti in the battle for the championship.

Close Shave for Legend AJ Foyt

AJ Foyt Cheats Death on BulldozerAJ Foyt has survived many scrapes with death in his long motorsport career, and recently has been working hard on his ranch, and of course in true Foyt style has been doing everything himself.

Late Thursday afternoon he had a brush with death once again. While driving a bulldozer working on a lake bank on his ranch, the riverbank collapsed sending Foyt and the bulldozer falling about 15 feet into the lake, coming to rest upside down.

“It was such a helpless feeling when that dirt broke away and I was going down and down,” said Foyt, who estimates the bulldozer dropped upside down into the lake about 15 feet.

“The dozer had a steel cage on it which probably saved my life,” said Foyt, “because without it, the dozer would have crushed me. But the cage also made it hard to escape. I had to crawl through the front of it and it was hard to do under water with all my clothes on and with my bum legs and all. I’ll be honest, I was panicked a little bit. If I hadn’t made it to the top of the dozer, they would never have found me because it was completely under water.”

“I didn’t want to swim to the bank ’cause it was covered in vines and steep and I was already out of breath from getting out of the dozer. I knew I’d get too tired trying to haul my big butt outta there. But as I was calling for help, I saw a water moccasin swim by. I started splashing like hell then. After about 15 minutes someone heard me and stopped to help.”

Once he managed to get out of the lake he did not go to hospital as he was uninjured, and then spent several hours trying to get the bulldozer out of the lake, which took three wreckers to haul the 35,000 pound bulldozer up and out.

Who said motorsport is dangerous!

Scott Dixon Makes it 3 in a row

Scott Dixon celebrated his 27th birthday in style on Sunday by winning on the Indycar series first visit to the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, beating championship leader Dario Franchitti by 2.6 seconds. This is Dixon’s third straight win after victories at Watkins Glen and Nashville in recent weeks.

For Franchitti it meant another cut in his points lead, and Dixon is now only 24 points behind, and is carrying the momentum into the next race at Michigan International Speedway.

Dixon only started 6th on the grid, and struggled in practice, not ever being really happy with the handling of his car. A first corner accident between Andretti Green teammates Danica Patrick, Tony Kannan and Marco Andretti saw Danica leaving the track, while Kannan spun, knocking Andretti up into the air into another rollover, the second for Andretti after crashing and rolling over at Indianapolis earlier in the season.

With all this action at the first corner, Dixon slipped through to 2nd, behind pole sitter Helio Castroneves. Franchitti was the only Andretti Green car not to be involved in the accident, and he emerged in 4th place behind Darren Manning, and in front of Sam Hornish Jr.

After the safety car returned to the pits the race settled down, and positions remained the same until the first pitstop where Dixon managed to stay out a few extra laps over Castroneves, and managed to take the lead from the Brazillian. From there Dixon set about building a lead, extending it to 4 seconds by the time the caution came out on lap 50 for Sam Hornish Jr who had spun into the tire barrier. The resulting pitstops left Kannan and Scott Sharp out front as they did not pit, with Castronevees taking the opportunity to short fill and get back his track position over dixon, who was followed by Franchitti.

Kannan led for another 10 laps before he had to pit, leaving Castroneves back in front, however he went to the pit on lap 69, handing over the lead to Dixon once again. Dixon stretched his fuel mileage once again, and managed to leapfrog Castroneves to take the lead after his stop, with Franchitti doing the same, not far behind Dixon.  During the final run to the flag the positions remained the same with Dixon taking the win, Franchitti 2nd and Castroneves 3rd.

Dixon Goes Two in a Row in Nashville

Saturdays nights IRL Indycar race at Nashville Speedway was just never meant to happen. ABout 10 minutes before the cars were scheduled to take to the track, the heavens opened up and flooded the track. The IRL took some time to see if the rain was going to stop, and it did for a while, but soon after it started raining again, so that was the end of Saturday, with the race being re-scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

Sunday it was overcast, and there was a pretty good chance it was going to rain at some stage. After his win at Watkins Glen, Scott Dixon was on a roll, taking pole at Nashville.

At the start Dario Franchitti quickly moved into the lead form his 2nd place start, and seized control of the race. Dixon meantime ran around, keeping in touch with Dario. Not too far form halfway and suddenly with some quick pitwork, Dixon found himself out front, with Dario right behind him. By then it was lap 97 and suddenly it started to rain lightly. With 4 laps to halfway the organizers kept the cars out, and fortunately the rain was light enough that within a few laps they were back to green flag racing.

That was pretty much the story of the race, with Dixon staying out front, extending his lead over Franchitti, and surpassing Franchitti’s total of laps led, and then pulling into victory lane, making it two races out of two, and closing Franchitti’s lead in the championship to 34 points. While Dixon did close the gap by 13 points, Dario really is having a great season. This race was Franchitti’s 10th top 10 in a row, making it difficult for the chasing pack to get any real points back on him.

Behind those two 3rd place was taken by Danica Patrick, equaling her best ever finish, although after the race she was very vocal about being held up by slower cars. in fact a number of the drivers were complaining about slower cars, especially after a late race caution left slower lapped cars in between those on the lead lap for the last restart within 10 laps of the end of the race. It appears from the comments that the current crop of IRL cars on fast ovals are to the point where it is impossible to pass anyone again.Maybe it’s time to revist the oval track package.

Some suggested that it’s time in the IRL to adopt the NASCAR rule, that any restarts within 10 laps to go, and all lapped cars will be moved to behind all the lead lap cars. There are arguments both for an against this one. In these days where a blue flag is waved at slower cars earlier and earlier, and drivers absolutely demand that other slower drivers get out of their way we seem to have lost sight of the fact that everyone is racing out there, whether you are racing for the lead, or for 10th, you are out there racing as hard as you can. It would be interesting to hear AJ Foyts views on this one, after all in his day you didn’t complain when someone didn’t get out of your way quick enough, you just raced your way by them.

Let’s hear your views on this one.

Penske Racing Team 40 Years of Excellence

From its modest beginnings behind a Philadelphia-area watchmaker’s shop some 40 years ago, the Penske Racing Team, more than any other organization, has influenced the development, growth and direction of auto racing in the United States as both a sport and a business.

Led by former race driver turned “Fortune 500” business mogul Roger Penske, this team has won more than 250 major auto races around the world, captured 19 national championships (including 12 Indy-Car titles), and have enjoyed success in all forms of racing—Indy-Cars, sports cars, Formula-1, endurance racing and NASCAR. Penske Racing Team…

40 Years of Excellence documents the fascinating history of this unique organization, focusing on the talented drivers and innovative engineering that have been responsible for the team’s spectacular and enduring success. It also highlights the key events that have defined American motorsports during this timeframe; including the rise and fall of U.S. sports car racing in the 1960s and 1970s; the politics of the USAC-CART split in the late 1970s; the CART-IRL battle that unfolded 20 years later; and the phenomenal transformation of NASCAR from its moonshine roots into the mainstream commercial phenomenon that it is today.

Overall a great read, giving an insight into the world of motorsport over the decades, through the eyes of one of the longest lived and best teams in auto racing.

Racing Book Penske Racing Team

Indycar Penalties after Brawl

The Indy Racing League has revealed that the teams, drivers and ‘non-uniformed hard card credential holders’ involved in a post-race altercation at Watkins Glen on Sunday will all be punished for their part in the incident.

What began as an on-track disagreement between Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish Jr – after the Brazilian felt that his rival had barged him out of the way in an opportunist overtaking move – spilled over into pit-lane after retribution continued after the chequered flag. Although Kanaan insisted that he had no intention of striking Hornish, he was aggrieved that the American’s father had intervened physically. Contact between Hornish Sr and Kanaan then brought members of both the Andretti Green and Penske teams into the fray, with security staff also getting involved after Hornish Sr was felled by an assailant initially unknown.

Team Penske and Andretti Green Racing have both been fined $25,000 for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct on pit-road’, while Kanaan and Hornish Jr were both given fines of an unspecified amount.

In addition, the League announced that Anthony Fedele has had his League-issued hard card – which was granted through Andretti Green Racing – and credential request opportunities suspended indefinitely. Hornish Sr has been suspended from pit lane for one race, while the teams, drivers and Hornish Sr have all been placed on probation until the end of the calendar year.

"We are disappointed in the actions of the drivers, the team members and the non-team members involved in the incident," said IRL president of racing operations Brian Barnhart, "We believe that emotions play a role in our sport, but it is unfortunate that others took it as an opportunity to become involved.

"We have spoken with both drivers and believe them when they said that there was never going to be physical contact between them, but entering the ‘field of play’, even after the checkered flag, and actively becoming engaged in anything outside of celebration is inappropriate and inexcusable. Safety is a priority and, while we do not condone incidents like Sunday’s, it was an even more precarious position with cars still running at pit speeds."

The penalized parties have the opportunity to appeal the penalty, although such action may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty. AGR boss Michael Andretti – who, himself, had been restrained from getting involved by son Marco – has said that he would be happy to consign the incident to history.

"We certainly regret the incident that occurred, and respect the penalties handed down today by the Indy Racing League," he said in a brief statement, "Racing is an emotional sport and it is unfortunate that those emotions carried into the post-race activities on Sunday. "We are looking forward to putting this incident behind us and are focused on battling for the IndyCar Series throughout the remaining seven races"

When Fathers Go Wild

As long as there has been Motor Racing there has been Motor Racing fathers. Quite often these racing fathers have raced themselves, and many are very knowledgeable, while in others you see the "Soccer Dad" mentality, where they are living their dreams that they were never able to achieve through their kids.

This last weekends Champcar Race at Watkins Glen included an ugly brawl incident that started between Tony Kannan and Sam Hornish Jr, and escalated firstly to a shoving match between Sam Hornish Sr (Sam Hornish Jr’s dad) and Tony Kannan, and then to an all in brawl between a number of people.

Some comments were then made afterwards by Tony Kannan, asking why Sam Hornish Sr got involved, and then secondly stating that father should not be allowed near the pits.

This raises all sorts of questions. In my experiences over the years I have seen all different kinds of dads and indeed whole families who have been on the sidelines with their racing offspring. There are those that are quiet and remain in the background, and then there are those that are there all the time watching every move the team makes, offering advice and at times getting in the way. The burning question is should those fathers/mothers/families be around, or should they be banned from following so closely.

My thoughts, and again after years of being involved in this, are divided. These family people are the very people who usually have sacrificed as much, and even sometimes more than the driver to ensure the drivers early career actually got off the ground, and without these people there would be no young and upcoming drivers.

At the same time, once a driver has progressed to the upper ranks, there is probably a time where the family members should back off and let the team work with the driver un-interrupted. I know that there are many people involved in motorsport teams that hate for a drivers family to be around the driver at events, citing distraction as the biggest reason.

The only answer I can come up with on this question is "It depends". I say, yes the family members should be there, after all why should they not share in some of the glory after all the years of hard work and sacrifice, after all very few race car drivers have succeeded without a huge support teams behind them over the years, including their families. It also depends on the attitude of the family members. They do need to recognize that the driver has moved on from the early days racing in karts and other formula where a small family run team could win championships, and that now the teams running the cars are professional organizations whose only job it is, is to win races. On the teams side, team members need to remember that they would not be working with their "Superstar" if it were not for the family of that superstar working hard to keep the superstar racing in earlier days.

If both sides recognise the above points, the answer is yes, well behaved fathers/families should be at the drivers side in the pits, but then when fathers go bad, maybe they should realize they need to give their sibling some space and quietly keep their distance a little.

Let me know your thoughts on this tricky subject.