The safety truck driver who narrowly missed setting off a huge accident at the start of last weekend's IZOD IndyCar Series race at the Baltimore Grand Prix has been suspended two races for his actions, IndyCar announced Thursday. The suspension covers the next two races in Motegi, Japan and Kentucky Speedway.
The truck driver was moving to a parking position in Turn 1 just as the field, led by front-row qualifiers Will Power and Graham Rahal, arrived at that part of the street circuit. Had the truck arrived a second later, he likely would have struck Rahal – who was in the outside lane – head-on.
“It was a near catastrophe,” Brian Barnhart, IndyCar's president of competition and chief steward, told the Indianapolis Star. “It was an extremely close call.”
Barnhart said the safety truck driver, who was one of the most experienced on the crew, with nearly 20 years of experience, had failed to go to his assigned location between Turns 2 and 4 as instructed. The truck was moving because it had been asked to adjust a tire barrier in Turn 5 that the drivers said on the parade lap was four feet off its assigned spot.
Barnhart told the Star that IndyCar's investigation of the incident resulted in a meeting with all the safety truck drivers.
“We re-established protocols and talked about complacency,” he said. “Simple procedures and protocol weren't followed.”