MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - CART Chief Steward Kirk Russell announced Thursday that Newman/Haas Racing and driver Michael Andretti will forfeit the prize money and FedEx Championship Series points earned at the Rio 200 for making contact with...
MOTEGI, Japan (May 11, 2000) - CART Chief Steward Kirk Russell announced Thursday that Newman/Haas Racing and driver Michael Andretti will forfeit the prize money and FedEx Championship Series points earned at the Rio 200 for making contact with two of his crew members during a pit stop in the Round 3 event.
The team will forfeit $17,500 and four championship points Andretti received for his ninth-place finish in the Rio 200 held April 30 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The penalty was assessed for making contact with crewmen Todd Tice and John Littlefield during a routine pit stop. Tice sustained a fractured right lower leg and ankle, and Littlefield sustained a large bruise on his left lower leg. The team was assessed a stop-and-go penalty at the time of the incident.
"After meeting with team representatives and careful review of the facts, I met with the stewards at our first available opportunity and we have chosen to remove the points and awards gained by the No. 6 car team, thereby having the same effect as exclusion at the time of the event. The finishing position will remain as part of the event record, but the points and awards will not be redistributed," Russell said. "Given the nature and the severity of the incident, we would have excluded the No. 6 car from the remainder of the event. However, the information available at the time of the event did not support the action.
"We have to make calls based on the best information at the time. However, where safety is concerned, careful investigation of the facts after the event is especially appropriate. My utmost concern is for the safety of the participants, and the teams must understand the seriousness with which we regard these circumstances."
The Newman-Haas team was in violation of Rule 6.7.26 of the CART Rule Book, which states, "Unsafe acts will be penalized." The penalties fall under Rule 10.1 (General), 10. 8 (Loss of points) and 10.9 (Loss of prizes, awards and distributions). According to 10.1, "The penalties authorized herein are cumulative and not exclusive and may, in the sole discretion of the Chief Steward, when issued be specifically modified as he determines conditions warrant." The decision is not subject to appeal or protest.
The last time a Champ Car driver lost championship points due to an on-track incident occurred at Mid-Ohio in 1998 when Alex Zanardi was fined $50,000 and forfeited his one point for a 12th-place finish for unjustifiable risk.
The forfeited prize money will be donated to CART Charities.