Should Castroneves have been penalized for first-lap crash?

No action was taken following the opening lap pile-up, which is a surprise to me...

I wanted to take a look at the new Verizon IndyCar race control trio, led by Brian Barnhart. Through the first five races, there have been many deserved penalties (IMO), but no call was made.. Case in point came in the first turn of the first lap of an 82-lap contest.

We all knew there might be a problem at the start of the second Angie’s List GP of Indianapolis, held on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road/oval course. Last year’s inaugural race featured a standing start that resulted in carnage, forcing officlals to seriously review standing starts, after all.

First turn clash

Diving into the first turn at this 2.439-mile road/oval course from the IMS straightaway, 25 drivers wanting to take home the checkered flag invites trouble.

Even without a standing start like last year, chaos ensued when Helio Castroneves, third, speared second-place starter Scott Dixon as they braked for that first turn. A spinning Dixon collected Jack Hawksworth, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, and others. 

All involved eventually continued but at mid-race, the initial antagonists, the punter Castoneves and the puntee Dixon were mired in 17th and 18th place. They’d both come back but Dixon’s need for a new front and rear wing held him to 10th at the close of the contest; Castroneves finished sixth.

Why no penalty?

All of this begs the question as why Castroneves hasn’t been reprimanded for his actions? Sure it’s his 300th race in the combined CART/Champ Car/IRL/INDYCAR series and sure, he works for Roger Penske. But Race Control did issue a warning to rookie Gabby Chaves for blockin. And remember the penalty issued to Graham Rahal for actions at Long Beach’s hairpin that really weren’t worthy of the 'P' word?

It always seems that Castroneves has been the benefactor of largesse by race control more times than anyone else in the paddock. 

The fact that this first-lap pile-up was the cause of the race’s sole two-lap caution period shows that everyone in this series can fight hard, fiercely and cleanly. There were six leaders in today’s race with 11 different lead changes. 17 racers finished on the lead lap and throughout the field there was plenty of action with very little of it resulting in pit visits for repairs.

Perhaps the action I saw on various screens wasn’t significant enough for INDYCAR race control to react to.

If that's the case, then what is?

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Event Grand Prix of Indy
Track Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon
Article type Commentary
Tags chip ganassi racing, team penske