The Panther team have decided against the challenge to the race results that they had made rumoured to be considering, seeking to overturn Dan Wheldon's victory in the 2011 centennial Indianapolis 500.

"Panther Racing has not, nor will it, protest the finish of the Indianapolis 500," said the team's Twitter posting.

IndyCar then published the official race classification confirming that Dan Wheldon is now a two-time winner of the Indy 500 in 2011.

Panther had been believed to be claiming that Dan Wheldon overtook their car - driven by 23-year-old rookie JR Hildebrand - in the last few yards of the final lap while the race was under yellow flags

That caution was triggered by Hildebrand himself hitting the wall in front of Wheldon, after sweeping out too wide to pass the slower, lapped traffic of Charlie Kimball and drifting into the marbles. However, strictly speaking the car was still in motion as it was scraping along the wall down the start/finish straight, even taking the chequered flag in second place before finally coming to a halt in the entrance to turn 1.

Under IndyCar rules - as with all other professional motorsports series - overtaking or changing position under a safety car is a strict no-no. Last year, Alex Lloyd was demoted from third place in the Indy 500 when TV replays showed that he had inadvertently overtaken Marco Andretti when the yellow flags came out for the horrific crash between Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

This year, Oriol Servia - initially classified in fifth place - was demoted to sixth after having been found to have overtaken Scott Dixon after the yellows came out at the end of the race.

However, no one has ever tried to argue that the car which caused the caution and which was effectively a complete wreck could still be deemed to be 'running' and their position protected by yellow flag conditions. In this case, Wheldon would have had to slow so fast and so abruptly that it could have caused a major pile-up; he would have been reduced to little more than walking pace to stay behind the sliding wreck of the Panther, a farcical end to a motor race.

It seemed to all come down to whether Panther had found a loophole in the IndyCar rule book that didn't preclude this being an exception to the "no overtaking under yellow" prime directive, and so the appeal would have had to be taken under serious consideration and could even have had genuine technical grounds for overturning Wheldon's win.

There was extra edge to the challenge, as a previous collaboration between Panther and Wheldon had ended in acrimony and legal action.

However, review of the video footage clearly seemed to show that at the moment Wheldon passed the wrecked car of Hildebrand, the track was actually still green - the yellow only came out when Wheldon took the chequered flag. That made the technical grounds of any mooted challenge by Panther invalid, and Wheldon's victory could no longer be denied.

Wheldon's win was confirmed, and the 23-year-old Californian rookie was left with more than his car shattered at the end of the biggest day in US racing.

Hildebrand's wreck still passed the finish line in second place, although arguably - under the same strict interpretation of the letter of the rule book they were thinking of applying to Wheldon - it's questionable whether it could possibly pass the strict post-race technical inspections or whether it would be disqualified altogether.

Perhaps best that Panther didn't push it in the circumstances.



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