Moving Dario Franchitti to the back of the field after contacting Ryan Briscoe, Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball in Japan last week was consistent with other rulings this year, IndyCar president of competition Brian Barnhart told The Indianapolis Star Wednesday.
Franchitti would fall under the category of his own move dropping him down the order, rather than receiving an additional drive-through penalty for the moment of indiscretion, Barnhart wrote in an e-mail. He was then moved back under the caution that he caused.
Barnhart described the decision as follows:
"Our rules for penalties for avoidable contact are, if the contact results in a full-course caution, the offending car is moved to the back of the line. If the course stays green, the offending car is given a drive-through (pit road) penalty."
Barnhart wrote there have been “close to a dozen avoidable contact rulings this year,” with most drivers being moved to the rear of the field under yellow instead of receiving a green flag drive-through. Exceptions, he wrote, were Ryan Briscoe after contacting Ryan Hunter-Reay in Baltimore, Hunter-Reay after hitting Briscoe in Barber, Paul Tracy in Long Beach, Mike Conway in Toronto, and EJ Viso in Edmonton. Alex Tagliani's first lap incident at Edmonton where he hit Rahal was not mentioned.
Defending the “those who cause the caution will be moved, but might not be given a drive-through” unofficial precedent, Barnhart discussed Helio Castroneves hitting teammate Will Power at Long Beach.
"This is the same issue everyone talked about at Long Beach with Helio (Castroneves) when he took out (Will) Power. It caused a full-course caution and he was at the back after being restarted so there was no official penalty announced, but his positioning was already the same as if one had been issued.
"The basic concept of our penalty is we want the offending driver at the back of the field for his offense. Either way achieves basically the same thing. When Briscoe failed to move prior to the restart in Baltimore, he was assessed a drive-through. The drive-through in effect put him at the same place, in the back of the field.
"Obviously, each track is unique and at some you spend more time in pit lane than others, but the penalties assessed are fair and have been consistently enforced.”