Q: There were three possible calls for Power's right rear changer's blatant disregard for his own and pit crew's safety: The right call is no call - Travis Law is an idiot but thankfully - nobody was hurt. He was clearly trying to obstruct Scott Dixon from exiting his pit box. The next best and acceptable judgement is to penalize Power for Law being an idiot. The last and worst possibility was what the "officials" called and ruined a championship contender's race. I love the fact, too, that somehow Saavedra's crash was not yellow-worthy with crap all over the track yet a couple spin-outs cause 5-lap full-course yellows. All about safety, right? How is it possible that IndyCar can be regressing officiating-wise back to the TGBB era? I think that Beaux Barfield is daft or isn't in charge all.
RM: I think after you read the letters above you might change your mind about Law, although it certainly seems like he wasn't paying attention or at least didn't seem to have a sense of urgency. As for ruining the championship, it certainly put a damper on what could have been a single-digit lead for Castroneves, but Barfield and Derrick Walker don't rule by emotions, I promise you. As for Saavedra's accident, his car was quickly pushed into the runoff area and the debris was Styrofoam that blew off the track. The other pieces were off the racing line and my guess is that Barfield wanted to go green to the end if possible. And it worked.
Q: I'll make my case for why the penalty was the right call. A driver is allowed to drive through the edge of a pit box, I agree to that. However, if you remember Mid-Ohio 2012, Power is coming in ahead of Dixon and Dixon's crew is setup. Power safely navigates around Dixon's crew and ultimately loses the lead because of the extra time it took to get in to his box. Will couldn't just ignore Dixon's RF tire changer and cut the box to get in to his pit stall. Fast forward to 2013. Dixon is leaving his pit box and clearly cut through Power's pit box on exit. I've seen a number of pit stops from the No. 12 team and that RR tire changer mostly does the same thing every time. It is Dixon's responsibility to avoid that tire changer (even if he was being careless) just like it was Power's responsibility to avoid Dixon's crewman in 2012 at Mid-Ohio.
RM: I think your observation is backed up by all the replays I've watched since Sunday night.
Q: It wouldn't be IndyCar if we didn't have controversy, tempers flaring, and a certain team owner exchanging some post-race hot words with an opposing team's driver! I believe Beaux Barfield made the correct call on the Dixon/Power "tire-gate" at Sonoma! To think a crew member would put himself purposely in harm's way by "walking nonchalantly" carrying a tire towards an powerful Indy car which has just launched out of the pit box behind and into his stall (yes, Dixon cut across Power's stall) is just ludicrous! Each crew guy has their space to work in, it is the driver's responsibility to avoid any object, including a crew member that might be in his path, as he exits his stall. Would be the same for a tire left sitting out there, if the driver clips it on the way out – that's a penalty, too. Just very lucky there were no injuries or worse. Dixon is normally a pretty even-keeled, cool driver, but his unprofessional response during the post race interview aimed towards the Power crew member surprised me and was unfair. Also, the NBCSN announcing crew vocally exhibited far too biased opinions after the incident before they had all the facts. So what can be done by IndyCar to avoid future repeats of this incident?
Tony Mezzacca, Madison, N.J.
RM: Easiest solution is what sports cars do. Change the tires and then fuel the car but it's boring compared to an IndyCar pit stop. Safer but not as exciting. Larger pit boxes is the obvious answer but those old road courses in the USA are already out of room. But don't be too hard on Dixon: he was naturally pissed off and didn't have 30 minutes to cool off like an NFL or NBA player before we interviewed him.
Q: I'm sure you've gotten about a thousand letters in reference to Sunday's penalty, but having listened to Dixon's post race interview and reading many peoples' comments about the incident, I had to write in. Has everyone lost their minds? Dixon hit someone in the pits. For safety reasons alone, that deserves a penalty. We have drive thru penalties for hitting tires and air-hoses, of course there would be a penalty when there is A PERSON attached to that tire! And for Dixon to immediately cry foul and actually suggest that the pit man walked into his car on purpose was extremely insensitive and unprofessional. I understand he was upset, but where was the concern over the man's safety? If it had been one of the Target guys, would Dixon have been so callous? The crew guys are professionals and I think it's absolutely ridiculous to suggest that one of them would have been suicidal enough to walk into a speeding car just to get ahead in a race. No one likes when penalties decide races, but since when are races more important than safety? Overall, a lot of respect lost for Dixon. On the bright side, it was really nice to see Beaux Barfield come out and explain exactly why the penalty was handed down. That kind of communication was nowhere to be seen during the reign of TGBB.
RM: The mob mentality and conspiracy theory often creeps into auto racing fans' psyche and, I'll admit, I was thinking as I watched the replay that maybe Penske's RR tire changer was deliberately trying to slow Dixon's exit. Having seen the previous stops on tape and the replay of Scott cutting through the box and also running over Power's air hose, I now feel like somebody who flunked out of Ball State.
Q: I thought Beaux's call was right on. I thought Dixon's reaction was sad. To imply that a crew member would purposely put himself in harm's way is truly ridiculous. Look at the video and you'll see that he was within a foot of the other crewman. What was he supposed to do, carry the wheel on his head? When we were stuck with Brian Barnhart, you told us how good Beaux would be as race director and you were right on. He made a decision and whiny drivers need to accept it. I don't like when things like this effect a race or potentially the championship but you cannot hit a crewman in his own pit box and not be penalized. As for the race…we have got to do something about these guys punting other cars because they think they have a chance to outbrake another driver. Too many yellows and not enough racing. Forget the drive-through penalties…if you overcook it in the braking zone and punt a guy that's it, you're out.
P.S. Love the Racer.com video interviews too!
Michael Ultimo, Naperville, IL
RM: Considering all the chaos, it looks like Barfield calmly reviewed all the evidence and made the right call. It's a miserable job but he earned a lot of respect last Sunday. Or should have. As for the racing, c'mon, we had a caution-free race and Mid-Ohio and these Dallaras allow for some aggressive driving. When it was green last Sunday, it was quality racing. Thanks for reading and watching.