Penske's Helio Castroneves has been penalised eight points in the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers point standings after being deemed to have parked the first corner multi-car accident at the start of Saturday's Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Castroneves made contact with Scott Dixon as the field headed into the first turn of the race, spinning the Ganassi car around which in turn caused mayhem as cars behind them scattered to avoid running into the #9.

"I was just trying to make sure I didn't hit anyone - and that I didn't get hit - in that first corner," Castroneves explained after the race which saw him battle his way back to sixth place by the chequered flag

"Just wanted to put the #3 Verizon Chevy in a good position there," he said. "Unfortunately, I clipped Dixon in the right rear when he turned into the corner. Obviously him spinning out put me into the grass and we lost many spots."

The cars of Josef Newgarden (CFH Racing) and Jack Hawksworth (AJ Foyt Racing) were among those involved and left stranded under the caution until the safety crew could scramble and get both back under power. Although Dixon was still under power, damage to his car meant a long stop on pit road for new front and rear wings.

"There's not much you can say about the start," Dixon had said. "We got turned around from behind and then had damage to both front and rear wings, and had to change both. Tough day for the Target car."

"I misjudged the front of the field," contributed Hawksworth. "There was a tangle at the front and there was a concertina effect. I tried to go left and there was a car there and we obviously touched and then I spun the car to avoid Dixon. We were praying for a caution all the way through to bunch the field back up."

At the time it was deemed a racing incident, but a post-race review by Verizon IndyCar Series officials has now deemed it a violation of Rule 9.3.3 of the series rule book relating to avoidable contact.

"Following every event, the IndyCar's race stewards conduct a review of all racing incidents utilizing all the tools available - including car data, video replays and interviews with the competitors involved," explained Derrick Walker, IndyCar's president of competition and operations,

"This obviously changed our view of the entire incident," he admitted. "At the conclusion of every post-race review, all penalty options are available to the stewards and they determined an avoidable contact penalty was warranted."

As a result, Castroneves has lost eight points in the drivers championship. He remains in third place in the standings, but loses ground on his team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power ahead of him. Montoya leads with 171 points five ahead of Saturday's race winner Power, but Castroneves falls from 161 points to 153 points as a result of the penalty. Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Grand Rahal are tied for fourth place, now nine points in arrears from Castroneves.

Team Penske said that there would be no statement forthcoming from the team or Castroneves, but Dixon himself was asked about it at a media availability session on Wednesday morning.

"Obviously, the biggest, the downside of it is that we're talking about it several days later when what we should be talking about is that the greatest race in the world is coming up," said Dixon, who revealed that he hadn't yet talked with Castroneves directly about the incident so far this week.

"You know, in my view, the penalty that fits the crime is a drive-thru. It should have been during the race," he continued. "Avoidable contact is obviously a drive-thru which could have been addressed in the first part of the race.

"[Instead] we're talking about it now. Had they added a drive-thru penalty, I'm not exactly where I would have been in the finishing results, somewhere between 12th and 15th. They're trying obviously to do the best thing they can, but it's something that should have been addressed straight away. It's just unfortunate.

"Obviously penalties come out on the following Wednesday. Had they reviewed the video, they could have come to a conclusion straight away on Sunday or Saturday night," he noted. "These things happen. We all just want consistent rules, that we can race under. It's not a job I would ever want to have. In the heat of the moment sometimes are said. That's unfortunate."

The eight point penalty Castroneves received for his infraction is harsher than the three points that Ryan Hunter-Reay lost for his clash with Penske's Simon Pagenaud at NOLA Motorsports Park last month, which ended up also taking out KVSH Racing's Sebastien Bourdais.

The Andretti Autosport driver was docked just three points for that incident, and was also placed on probation for three races meaning that any further subsequent incidents in which he was involved could receive significantly harsher penalties. Today's announcement about Castroneves made no mention of the Brazilian being placed on probation.

Under IndyCar Series rules, Castroneves has the right to contest the imposition of the penalty pursuant to the procedures and timelines detailed in the review and appeal procedures of the rulebook.

"We were surprised that we got a penalty, quite honestly," said team owner Roger Penske. "We weren't notified of anything during the race that was going to be a review. We've got 48 hours to review it and see what we're going to do."

There were no other penalties or fines announced by IndyCar in relation to the Indianapolis road course race.

With additional reporting from Indianapolis by Lynne Huntting of



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