Marshall Pruett spoke with IndyCar's Race Director Beaux Barfield about Scott Dixon's controversial penalty last Sunday. To say their opinions were at odds at the start of the interview is putting it mildly, and they were hardly "as one" by the end, either. But here's the conversation in virtually unexpurgated form.
Count this writer among those who were livid after Sunday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. If you're reading this, you've probably seen the replays, read the heated comments, and formed an opinion of your own on the tire-to-car contact that took place during the final pit stop between Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon and Travis Law, the right rear tire changer for the Verizon Team Penske entry piloted by Will Power.
IndyCar's Race Control deemed the contact to have one responsible party, and Dixon in the No. 9 car was duly penalized. Dixon went from first to finish 15th and Power in the No. 12 won. But the call felt wrong. Two days later, it still feels wrong – as if a sense of fair play was ignored.
The source of my frustration has nothing to do with how Dixon's drive-through penalty could affect his chances in the championship. It has nothing to do with how it altered the outcome of the race. And it has nothing to do with the names of the teams or drivers involved.
In this situation, lines were crossed and errors were made by both sides. At best, it was a non-call. Somewhere in the middle, maybe a fine could have been levied to reinforce the notion about maintaining pit safety and awareness at all times. At worst, and in NFL parlance, there should have been offsetting penalties that resulted in making the incident a wash.
Rather than lay out a long list of evidence to make a case on how it should have been impossible for Race Control to convict one team in this two-team incident, I rang IndyCar Race Director Beaux Barfield to have our latest “You're an idiot,” “No, you're an idiot” debate. As in most instances where I can't understand something, I wanted to figure out how he came to his decision, and to learn why the gray areas I saw were so black and white to him, and to clarify some of the nonsense that has run rampant in the past 48 hours. After 40 minutes of back and forth, we didn't necessarily change our opinions on what took place in pit lane or how the verdict was ultimately rendered, but this is how the conversation went: