The late race drive thru penalty administered by race control on Scott Dixon has received quite the reception. Fans, drivers and other motorsport professionals have debated the mess on Twitter and it has been on morning shows coast to coast.
The call was within the limits of the IndyCar rulebook, so it is not like Barfield made up a penalty rule on the spot. If you make contact with pit equipment, you can be penalized. Very black and white if you ask me. The rule is put in place in the terms of safety of the crewmembers and could have been called on anybody. With the race being between Dixon and Power, Dixon’s frustration is easy to understand, let alone the man is fighting for a championship.
The penalty is hard to understand for the average fan being that for one there are no pit lines that clearly demote the pit boxes which is confusing in of itself. That was part of race director Barfield’s explanation saying that Dixon drove thru Power’s pit box. The lines on the boxes were for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. At other tracks where both the IndyCar Series and NASCAR run at, the pit box dimensions are different for the two series.
Here is an overhead shot with pit lines matching the sponsor logos on the wall that define the pit boxes:
What you see is that Dixon is indeed within the bounds of Power’s pit box, which brings me to my next point: Look at where Dixon’s car made contact with the tire. The tire made contact with the ramped part of the sidepod, not a place you would normally expect a tire to make contact with. With that in mind, I don’t think Dixon should have been penalized. It’s not like Dixon hit the tire with the front of the car where he could have seen it and swung out of the way or turned sharper to avoid it. Whether or not the tire carrier walked towards the car on purpose or if he simply screwed up–only the tire changer in question can answer that.
The frustration that Dixon’s team had with Barfield is understandable, but then again the Race Director is a thankless job. Barfield also made a bad call against Dixon last season at Milwaukee, which he acknowledged and apologized. Barfield has done a good job since joining the IndyCar Series as Race Director at the beginning of the season last year. He has had his share of bad calls, but he has done more good than bad.