Ryan Hunter-Reay's victory in the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is under threat, after it was confirmed that formal protests have been filed by Newman/Haas Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
The IZOD IndyCar Series organisers also confirmed that the protests - which had to be lodged within 30 minutes of the posting of official results on Sunday afternoon - have had a preliminary review and that the decision has been made to hold a formal hearing in Indianapolis sometime next week.
It's thought to be the first (public) official protest to proceed to a full hearing in Indy racing since 2002.
And in a dramatic move, IndyCar's president of competition Brian Barnhart - who is at the very centre of the storm - has stepped away from officiating over the protest as would normally be his role as senior official, and will instead nominated an independent panel to review the case.
"Given my role in race control, I feel that it is in everyone's best interest to have an independent panel hear the protests," said Barnhart. "I believe a panel will help maintain a fair hearing."
Barnhart named the members of the independent panel as Jerry Gappens, the general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway; Rollie Helmling, former president and chief executive officer of the United States Auto Club (USAC); and Jeff Stoops, Chairman of the Board for USAC and whose company Stoops Freightliner is a current team sponsor in IndyCar.
The hearing must be held within 14 days of the race according to the series rules, and IndyCar has said that the hearing will take place in Indianapolis in the week commencing August 22.
As well as team representatives from Newman/Haas Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing who lodged the protest, IndyCar have also invited Andretti Autosport to the protest hearing given their interest in the outcome with Hunter-Reay's win in the balance.
The dispute focuses on the controversial final restart of the race, where Ryan Hunter-Reay led the field to the green flag after race control decided to attempt to get the race going again despite rain over the track. Hunter-Reay had a bad restart and lost the lead to Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon, while behind them Danica Patrick spun off turn 4 onto the front straightaway and caused a multiple-car wreck that immediately sent the race back to a full course caution.
Race director Barnhart subsequently admitted
that the decision to attempt a restart had been "an error on race control standpoint, and clearly my fault," and made the decision to view the final restart to have been "aborted" despite the few seconds of green flag racing.