The race-winning car driven by Carlos Huertas in the first race of the Verizon IndyCar Series Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader event last weekend has failed post-race technical inspection, series officials announced on Wednesday.
Dale Coyne Racing has penalised after being found to be in breach of a pair of technical violations on its #18 car, which was found to have Rule 188.8.131.52 (Rear Wing Height) and Rule 14.7.2 (Fuel Cell Capacity) of the 2014 rulebook. The team has accordingly been fined a total of $10,000, a total of $5,000 per breach.
Huertas won the Saturday race after managing to run longer than anyone else on his final tank of gas, but officials said that they had determined that the infractions did not impact the finishing order of the race or the final winning position of the #18.
Accordingly, Huertas' maiden IndyCar race win stands, and there are no points penalties to the championship standings applied.
Meanwhile, Ryan Hunter-Reay has spoken about other penalties that had previously been levied on his team, Andretti Autosports, after a controversial incident that occurred early in the same race on Saturday.
Marco Andretti had been handed a drive-thru penalty during race 1 in Houston after failing to obey blue flags ordering him to pull over to allow then-race leader Takuma Sato through. Andretti was later given a further $2,500 fine and a three-race probation for failing to obey directions from race control, and the team also fined $2,500 over the incident.
"I think it was the wrong call from IndyCar," said Hunter-Reay when asked in a midweek teleconference for his thoughts about what had happened. "When a lead lap car is still on the lead lap, whether he's P2 or last, just in front of the leader, he's on the lead lap and he's got a right to be there."
Andretti had been forced to pit for repairs early in the race after a collision with team mate Carlos Munoz, and he exited pit lane just in front of Sato. However he had not gone a lap down when shown blue flags, which under IndyCar Series rules are only supposed to be a command to drivers already a lap down.
"You come out in front of the leader, things could cycle through to where you could come out fourth or fifth on the next stop. That's the way it goes," said Hunter-Reay. "That guy is fighting for every inch of the racetrack in order to stay on the lead lap. Especially in IndyCar, just because the beginning of your race goes south, you can still come back and win the race - even if you fight to just get that first pit stop."
There had also been the suspicion that the team was acting tactically, ordering Marco to slow down in order to back the AJ Foyt Racing driver back into the fourth member of the Andretti Autosport squad, James Hinchcliffe, who at the time has been running in second place behind Sato.
"I could tell you that there is no way that early in the race, at any point in the race, that Marco would be told to slow Sato up in order for James to catch Sato," insisted Hunter-Reay. "Marco still had his own race to run. The kid is fifth in the championship. He's got a shot at contending for the title. There's no way after ten, 15 laps he's going to give up his entire race to help his teammate out.
"I mean, this isn't my fight to fight," he added. "I've been in a position plenty of times where I've been the leader of the race, there's a lead lap car in front of me getting ready to be lapped, and IndyCar has never given me any help on that. I didn't expect it."