The IZOD IndyCar Series officials have served a six-race probation on Graham Rahal for his actions during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach at the weekend, which resulted in Marco Andretti's car being launched into the air over the back of Rahal's.
Andretti's car flew into the air on lap 22 of the 85-lap race on the run down to turn 8 after Rahal appeared to pull out from his existing line in order to block Andretti's attempt to overtake him, something that is not allowed under IndyCar rules. The #26 Andretti Autosport car came perilously close to barrel-rolling, but finally returned to the ground right-side up and skidded into a tyre barrier, where Andretti was able to climb out unaided.
"It's one thing blocking but it's another thing chopping, and that was a chop," fumed Marco Andretti immediately following the accident. "I'm lucky I didn't get upside down, I could have been killed."
Rahal denied that he had made a blocking move and said that the apparent swerve his car made was due to the contact Marco had made to the back of the #38 Ganassi, which had pulled his car to the right before Andretti's car went airborne.
"By the rules, you're allowed to make one move. I made one move," insisted Rahal. "At the speed he hit me at, he wouldn't have made the corner. It broke my gearbox, that's how hard he hit me."
Both cars retired after the incident, which meant that any consideration of blame for the incident was postponed until after the race weekend.
"Due to the inability of the #38 car to continue the race, a review of the on-track actions of Graham Rahal became a post-race issue," said Beaux Barfield, IndyCar's president of competition and the race director for the Long Beach event.
"All stewards have reviewed the incident and have decided that the on-track actions of Graham warranted probation because of driving that endangers on-track safety and adversely affects competition," he continued.
Rahal was handed the six-race probation under rule 9.3.2 relating to blocking ("a driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing drivers to inhibit or prevent passing") and also under rule 9.3.3 relating to initiating an avoidable contact affecting another competitor's track position.