DETROIT (June 28, 2000) â€“ CART Chief Steward Kirk Russell announced today an implementation of new measures for race communication among officials as a result of an erroneous black-flag penalty given to Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti ...
DETROIT (June 28, 2000) – CART Chief Steward Kirk Russell announced today an implementation of new measures for race communication among officials as a result of an erroneous black-flag penalty given to Team KOOL Green driver Dario Franchitti during Sunday's Freightliner/G.I. Joe's 200 Presented by Texaco at Portland International Raceway.
CART competition officials met post-race to identify the problem and rectify it in the future by requesting remote officials to identify themselves at all times of communication, ensure they have a full understanding of the regulations and coordinate the efforts with the race teams.
"This is not to say it has not been done in the past, but it has not been done vigorously enough to know how to respond in the light of certain rules," Russell said. "It was an unfortunate incident for Dario and Team KOOL Green that occurred due to communication shortfalls."
The error occurred on the opening lap when Franchitti (KOOL Honda Reynard) was collected in a multi- car incident in the Festival Curves. Franchitti was restarted by CART safety workers and then received approval to proceed by a remote official. Shortly thereafter, however, Franchitti received a black-flag penalty for shortcutting the course due to the communication error among the officials.
"We were told after the event by officials that Dario would not have been able to stop safely and keep the engine running by moving him back to the proper area," Russell said. "This complicated the situation and it was not communicated fully until after the race concluded."
Franchitti served a drive-through penalty, which moved him to the rear of the field, but he rebounded to finish ninth. He gained four points for the position, but believed he could have finished much higher without the penalty. Franchitti is 10th in the FedEx Championship Series championship with 44 points.
"I'm really disappointed because the season has been difficult enough and with it being so competitive you can't afford to lose points because of an incorrect call," said Franchitti, a 1999 CART All-Star who finished second to Juan Montoya in last year's championship by virtue of a tiebreaker. "Without that penalty, we would have been in position to score a lot more points and after last year's championship every point counts. Kirk has a difficult job and needs more people to assist him. We need to step up the level of commitment and I think with Bobby [Rahal, CART's interim President and CEO] in charge you will see this happen."