18 June 2012
Hunter-Reay charges to Milwaukee win
"I really don't know what happened on the restart where we got penalised," said a perplexed Dixon afterwards. "I think the one they waved off was the one we got out of line when EJ Viso was trying to restart at 20mph. I was in first gear and when it went green, I went. I don't know what the issue was but I'm really looking forward to the explanation from IndyCar ... That punishment is pretty harsh."
The drive-thru together with a sticking throttle later in the day ended Dixon's hopes of competing for the win, dropping him from third to 15th. When race control did finally get to re-examine the incident later in the day, a mortified Beaux Barfield realised what had happened: the time codes used on the video equipment had been slightly out of sync, and when Barfield had called up footage of the restart he got the waved-off one from 39s earlier instead. He hadn't watched on far enough to realise that this had been the aborted start.
"It was obviously the wrong call based on the reality of the situation," admitted Barfield. “But based on the clock leading us the wrong way, technology completely got us ... It's one of those strange things that we've probably never heard of and hopefully never hear of happening again.
"I take responsibility for it being the wrong call," he said. "It was a perfect storm." He said that he had gone to Dixon and the Ganassi team afterwards to explain the miscall: "They appreciated my candour with them, explaining to them truthfully exactly what happened, and thought, 'It's racing,'" he said, adding that "Once a penalty is served, I can't then jump back in there and undo it."
Up at the front, after having led the race for a total of 50 laps, Castroneves had a momentary problem getting loose in turn 2 on lap 142 that gave Ryan Hunter-Reay the chance to steal the lead - and the Andretti Autosport #28 needed no second invitation.
"I was saving my tires behind him, kind of biding my time, saving some fuel. Everybody was strong on new tyres," said Hunter-Reay later. "Then he had a wiggle, then another wiggle, then he got off into the grey. I just went for it and got him into turn three."
Once in front in the clear air it was still a battle to keep the car under control on the Milwaukee Mile, but a heck of a lot easier than it had been stuck further down in traffic.
Case in point: polesitter and early race leader Dario Franchitti, who had lost the lead during the first round of pit stops and caution and who ever since had just dropped slowly backwards down the field as his ill-handling form from Friday practice reasserted itself and he found himself stuck midfield, through the next green flag pit stop cycle and a brief yellow for a very light rain shower that rapidly passed over the track on lap 182.
But Franchitti had never looked like reviving his fortunes or challenging for the lead, even before he tangled with Ryan Briscoe at the restart on lap 192 - Briscoe apparently not seeing Franchitti on the inside an pressing him right down onto the grass verge, banging wheels as they went.
"I was on Ryan's inside and he just kept coming down there," confirmed Franchitti. "I just don't think his spotter told him I was there. I had half a car on the rumble strip."
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