16 April 2012
Power drives home the points in Long Beach
The spun cars of the two Brazilians ended up collecting those of Oriol Servia and James Jakes which completely blocked the track, causing a traffic jam for anyone trying to get to the chequered flag that was already flying just a couple of corner further down the way, causing all sorts of head-scratching over just who had finished where in the final classifications. For their own parts in the incidents, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves both got served thirty-second time penalties in lieu of the drive-thru that would normally have applied if there had been time to serve it.
"I feel bad Sato ended up in the tyres, but I knew he was saving fuel and I came up on him really fast," explained Hunter-Reay. "He let off early and when I went for the gap, he came across the nose. It's a shame because my team really deserved a podium finish."
"Ryan Hunter-Reay basically took me out," responded an understandably aggrieved Sato. "There was not enough depth on his overtaking maneuver. He had a chance for the last few corners so it's very disappointing to finish the race this way."
Rubens Barrichello was clearly finding it surprising just how physical an IndyCar street fight could get, after all those years in the well-mannered halls of F1: "I would just like people to have more respect for each other on the track!" he said. "I was hit on every side of my car. Apart from that, I enjoyed myself today."
"We were just trying to finish and there were two cars in front of me and Rubens," explained Helio Castroneves. "Rubens was being, I think, a bit cautious and stopped the car and he stopped too much, to the point that I obviously touched him. My intention was never to pass him, but we ended up blocking the track."
Beaux Barfield had earlier declined to hand Franchitti a drive-thru penalty for the first corner incident with Newgarden; or to Pagenaud for hitting one of the tyres in Will Power's pit box while exiting his own on lap 20, as he did so avoiding contact with a car to the outside. But EJ Viso had been the recipient of a proper drive-thru penalty for causing avoidable contact with Alex Tagliani at the final restart, which had put the Bryan Herta Autosport car out of the race with a sliced tyre.
"As soon as it [went] green I just jumped on the inside and passed Viso inside the hairpin," Tagliani said. "Coming on to the front straightaway he just pushed me in to the wall. I guess he was upset - but he's the type of guy that gets disconnected sometimes," he added dryly.
Viso felt that Tagliani was to blame for the incident and said that it was "very unfair" that he should have been handed the penalty.
"Tagliani made a very dangerous move passing two or three cars heading into the hairpin turn which is a very awkward place to overtake," he complained after being left out of the top ten by the drive-thru. "I saw what he was doing and moved out of the way, but he was sideways coming out of the hairpin and when I attempted to pass he blocked me and I hit his tyre and he spun."
After some recalculation of what all these incidents, blockages and penalties meant, third place was handed to Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport team mate James Hinchcliffe, who had laboured long and hard and most of all safely and sensibly for the entire afternoon. He was just five seconds ahead of Tony Kanaan, who had succeeded in getting past Panther's JR Hildebrand in the closing laps. Hunter-Reay slotted into sixth place after his penalty ahead of Ryan Briscoe, the last man classified on the lead lap by the end after the mayhem that had caught up the others and prevented them from reaching the line.
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