26 July 2010

In a Year, Will You Remember Who Won Edmonton?

Quick question: what is in the water in Edmonton?

First, following up on Randy Bernard's comments about Milka Duno in Toronto, the drivers of the IZOD IndyCar Series weighed in, voicing their concerns and displeasure over Duno's driving.

That article, allowing with Bernard's statement, appeared to pave the way for Saturday's announcement that Duno would be placed on probation for the remainder of the 2010 season, marking the first step the series is taking to remove Duno from the series.

The Duno probation probably would have been enough of a story line coming out of what figured to be another Will Power-dominated day in Edmonton.  And true to form, Power did dominate, leading a race high 76 laps.  But in giving up the lead late, Power helped set the stage for maybe the most memorable/infamous moment of the 2010 IndyCar season.

Simple recap: Going back to green on lap 93, Will Power swung out wide of Castroneves in an attempt to pass.  Castroneves appeared to maintain his inside line, possibly swinging out a little wide, but closed the door on Power to hold first.  In the process, Scott Dixon took second from Power and abruptly cut Power off from trying to recapture the second spot.

Almost immediately, Race Control ruled Castroneves blocked and ordered him to pit road for a drive-through penalty.  Castroneves refused, and Dixon was declared the winner following 95 laps.  Neither the Versus crew nor the IMS Radio Network could figure out where the block is.  See for yourself:

And honestly, a week after the Internet was disappointed that the IndyCar Series went 0-for-2 in terms of physical confrontations following Toronto, but managed to hit 1.000 on Tweet-fights, Helio Castroneves changed all of that.  (Head to the 4-minute mark to watch.)

With cameras rolling, Castroneves went after anyone and everyone, seemingly looking for members of Race Control to find out why he had a win taken away.  By the end of the night, Castroneves would issue a statement apologizing for his actions, but frankly, his actions were welcome.  When this is the reason for stripping a win:

And when the logic (and consistent enforcement) behind the call is shaky at best, who among us would not be furious?  In any other sport, Castroneves' actions, in the face of a seemingly incorrect call, would be celebrated (aside from maybe grabbing Security Officer Charles Burns, but did anyone think Helio was going to do anything there?).  Hell, Lou Piniella is celebrated across the north side of Chicago for a tirade against a far better call by an official.

The drivers, for their part, were unanimous in their approval for the move, which Davey Hamilton felt would change upon viewing tape of the race.  And of the drivers interviewed (Dixon, Power, Dario Franchitii), who wouldn't be appreciative of someone else being sent from first to 10th?

For the IndyCar Series, however, the ruling will likely be viewed as a black eye for the sport.  For Brian Barnhart, it is another bullet in the chamber for those who disapprove of the job he does.  And while I haven't been in that camp, I will concede that this type of inconsistency can and will ruin the credibility of the series if it isn't dealt with appropriately.

The finish is the most controversial, non-Indianapolis result I can think of since June 7, 1997, when A.J. Foyt wound up punching Arie Luyendyk in Victory Lane at Texas.  And while the IndyCar Series has seen its share of incidents since then (Kanaan vs. Hornish Sr., the Danica-Milka towel toss, etc.), thankfully, Castroneves reintroduced some emotion and passion to the series.

Honestly, in a year or two, IndyCar fans won't remember that Dixon won the 2010 Honda Indy Edmonton.  What will be replayed over the following days and months is Castroneves' display of emotion following the race.  Now it's a matter of getting those who witnessed the replays to make their way to Versus for Mid-Ohio in two weeks.

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