As most of you know, I am an unabashed Helio Castroneves fan so my Sunday evening was not as pleasant as normal.  The blocking penalty handed down by Brian Barnhart with 2 laps to go in the race was a shock even to Bob Jenkins announcing the race on Versus.

After viewing replays, I personally have NO problem with the penalty IF it was applied for what Helio did AFTER the apex of the turn.  He went wider than normal on exit forcing Will Power to the marbles on the outside of Turn 1.  That, to me was the block.  Was his entrance to the turn wide?  Yeah, probably.  But isn’t that defending your position?  Go back through the history of IndyCar racing and I’m sure you’ll find thousands of those occurrences at any track.

So, it comes down to the definition of blocking and the application of the rules.  In my opinion, blocking is changing your line to impede another drivers progress.  Before the apex of turn 1 yesterday, Helio did not impede Will.  To me that is obvious since Will got at least side by side if not a bit in front at the apex. (Another issue that is being overlooked is the run that Will had on Helio to the apex on the Blacks.  Awesome stuff.) When the two Team Penske Drivers left the apex, Helio pushed Will wide slowing them both down and allowing Scott Dixon to pass Will and almost get Helio. This was the block to me.  Will had to lift since he didn’t want to hit his teammate, something that the Captain frowns on severely.  That was the impeding part and therefore blocking.

The second part of the equation is the application of the rules.  In the very next turn, didn’t Dixon throw a block on Power to protect his line?  Again, I think this was good racing, not blocking.  But, if we are going by the letter of the law, which it appears Brian Barnhart was, then a penalty should have been handed out for that infraction as well.

Alot of people are calling for Brian Barnhart’s head on a platter for his decision.  I’m not one of them.  I can’t imagine how hard that job actually is with the scrutiny that can be applied at any moment of a race.  But I will take him to task on application of the rule.  Just be consistent.  That part is very simple.  It will be interesting to see how Mid-Ohio goes in 2 weeks as there are ample opportunities to “block” on a track that doesn’t have alot of good passing zones.  If the drivers fear the penalty of blocking, then I’m afraid that Mid-Ohio will be a high speed game of follow the leader.

Advertisements