Penske driver Will Power has been fined $30,000 over his furious obscene gestures and actions following the controversial end of the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Power has also been placed on probation for the rest of the 2011 season "for portraying unsportsmanlike conduct" and "improper and profane gestures."
"While the circumstances around the chequered flag were highly unusual, they do not justify this type of behaviour, especially in a family-friendly environment," said Brian Barnhart, senior race official at New Hampshire and IndyCar president of competition and operations. "Emotions always are on display in our sport and we know these actions are not indicative of Will's normal behaviour."
In a slightly unusual move that suggests a possible nod at the odd circumstances that led to Power's outburst, IndyCar suggested that Power would be able to "work off" the fine through a series of public appearances on behalf of IndyCar for the remainder of the season.
The fine is also just half that levied on Power's Penske team mate Helio Castroneves for his outburst at the end of Edmonton last year. Castroneves had a highly public physical confrontation with IndyCar security staff following a blocking penalty from race control late in the race that cost him the race win.
The New Hampshire storm erupted when race control ordered a late race restart despite rain continuing to fall on a damp track, and despite protests from the drivers. Danica Patrick spun even before the start/finish line and Will Power was among those who crashed out in the aftermath.As he stormed off
, he made gestures toward the officials that were caught on live television, and also gave an interview in which he squarely condemned the series' officiating.
"[Barnhart] makes such bad calls all the time," Power had fumed. "This has got to be it. They cannot have this guy running the show. That was a decision to put a lot of drivers in danger ... It was no condition to race in. Shame on him."
After he calmed down, Power made a comprehensive apology: "Regardless of what happened on the race track, my behaviour was inexcusable and I apologize to our sponsors, the fans, the IZOD IndyCar Series officials and the Penske Racing organisation," he had said. "I should not have behaved the way I did and I am sorry. It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated."Barnhart later admitted
that the decision to attempt a restart had been a mistake. His decision to "undo" the restart and leave the final running order as it had been before the green flag briefly came out was subject to a protest
earlier this week by Newman/Haas Racing who contended that Oriol Servia should have been declared the winner, but the protest was dismissed and the original results giving the win to Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay were upheld.
However, IndyCar made the point that regardless of the circumstances or that the outburst and gestures had been initially triggered by Barnhart's mistaken restart call, the driver's response was nonetheless an inappropriate response from a professional race car driver.
The penalty was expected. Power's team owner Roger Penske had even been quoted as saying on race day that he would volunteer to pay the fine on Power's when it was levied, after suggesting that Power's feelings on the officiating were shared by the majority of people on pit road.
Under IndyCar rules, Power still has the right to protest the penalty.