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Indy 500: Panther decide against challenge

Panther Racing have decided not to challenge the outcome of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race, which would have sought to have their driver JR Hildebrand named winner.
The Panther team have decided against the challenge to the race results that they had made rumoured to be considering, seeking to overturn Dan Wheldon's victory in the 2011 centennial Indianapolis 500.

"Panther Racing has not, nor will it, protest the finish of the Indianapolis 500," said the team's Twitter posting.

IndyCar then published the official race classification confirming that Dan Wheldon is now a two-time winner of the Indy 500 in 2011.

Panther had been believed to be claiming that Dan Wheldon overtook their car - driven by 23-year-old rookie JR Hildebrand - in the last few yards of the final lap while the race was under yellow flags

That caution was triggered by Hildebrand himself hitting the wall in front of Wheldon, after sweeping out too wide to pass the slower, lapped traffic of Charlie Kimball and drifting into the marbles. However, strictly speaking the car was still in motion as it was scraping along the wall down the start/finish straight, even taking the chequered flag in second place before finally coming to a halt in the entrance to turn 1.

Under IndyCar rules - as with all other professional motorsports series - overtaking or changing position under a safety car is a strict no-no. Last year, Alex Lloyd was demoted from third place in the Indy 500 when TV replays showed that he had inadvertently overtaken Marco Andretti when the yellow flags came out for the horrific crash between Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

This year, Oriol Servia - initially classified in fifth place - was demoted to sixth after having been found to have overtaken Scott Dixon after the yellows came out at the end of the race.

However, no one has ever tried to argue that the car which caused the caution and which was effectively a complete wreck could still be deemed to be 'running' and their position protected by yellow flag conditions. In this case, Wheldon would have had to slow so fast and so abruptly that it could have caused a major pile-up; he would have been reduced to little more than walking pace to stay behind the sliding wreck of the Panther, a farcical end to a motor race.

It seemed to all come down to whether Panther had found a loophole in the IndyCar rule book that didn't preclude this being an exception to the "no overtaking under yellow" prime directive, and so the appeal would have had to be taken under serious consideration and could even have had genuine technical grounds for overturning Wheldon's win.

There was extra edge to the challenge, as a previous collaboration between Panther and Wheldon had ended in acrimony and legal action.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) wrecks on the last turn of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 while running in the lead. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 29 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
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Me - Unregistered

May 30, 2011 2:46 AM

A car that crashes into the wall is no longer a race car, its now a wreck, and therefore no longer receives yellow flag protection of its location in the race - its not technically in the race anymore. Thats the technicality that will keep this from happening. But its really simple. If you wreck in the 4th turn at Indy - you dont win. Thats not how it works. So they know its a waste of time.

denny e - Unregistered

May 30, 2011 1:33 AM

The lack of protest was only after Bernhardt had a conversation with the Panther team. It was the slowest caution in the race at the most critical time in the race. Sweeping mistakes under the rug is ugly ... and all too common is U.S. sports.

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