Tracy fined $50,000, loses championship points, placed on probation for actions at Laguna Seca DETROIT (October 15, 2001) - CART Chief Steward Chris Kneifel announced Monday that Team KOOL Green driver Paul Tracy has been fined $50,000, stripped...
Tracy fined $50,000, loses championship points, placed on probation for actions at Laguna Seca
DETROIT (October 15, 2001) - CART Chief Steward Chris Kneifel announced Monday that Team KOOL Green driver Paul Tracy has been fined $50,000, stripped of three championship points and placed on probation for the final two events of the FedEx Championship Series season for his actions during and following Sunday's Shell 300, feature event of the Honda Grand Prix of Monterey, at Mazda Raceway of Laguna Seca.
Kneifel cited Tracy for rules violations relating to four separate incidents: Unjustifiable risk (CART Rule 8.13), unsafe act (Rule 6.7.28), unsportsmanlike conduct (Rule 1.7.7) and criticism of officials (Rule 1.7.6).
The monetary fine is the largest levied against a FedEx Championship Series driver since Alex Zanardi was fined the identical amount for an on-track infraction at Mid-Ohio in 1998. The loss of the three points drops Tracy from 11th to 12th in the championship with 73 points, leaving him one behind Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing.
It also marks the second time this season that Tracy has lost championship points and been placed on probation due to his actions. He was penalized two championship points and placed on probation for three road/street course events for unjustifiable risk during July's Molson Indy in Toronto.
"Paul's lack of consideration for the safety of fellow competitors and their crew members on Sunday is a matter of great concern and is not expected of a driver of his caliber at this level of competition," Kneifel said. "In view of his behavior, his language and criticism of the officials does nothing but demean himself and his profession, and we will not tolerate it."
The initial incident occurred during a full-course caution period on Lap 50 of 76 of Sunday's event when Tracy and Helio Castroneves of Marlboro Team Penske entered the pits for routine stops. Upon exiting his pit box, Castroneves momentarily lost control of his Champ Car and moved partly into the "fast [right] lane" of the pit lane where Tracy was driving. In the opinion of the CART stewards, who reviewed the incident both at the time and in detail after the race, Castroneves did not impede the progress of Tracy and therefore committed no violation.
The video review by the CART stewards clearly showed that after Castroneves corrected his course, Tracy deliberately steered to the left and into the "slow lane," which ultimately resulted in contact between the two drivers. Castroneves appeared to be close to the left-most limit of the "slow [left] lane" and was within a few feet of crew members in the last three pit boxes, including those of Tracy's teammate, Dario Franchitti.
In the opinion of the CART stewards, Tracy's move to the left represented unjustifiable risk and an unsafe act to the crew members in the pit lane as well as to a fellow competitor.
The second infraction occurred on Lap 53 when Tracy pitted again during a caution period. During this pit entry, he drove through several pit boxes to the Marlboro Team Penske pit area, whereupon he executed a tire-smoking "burnout" before exiting the pit lane. In the opinion of the stewards, this represented both an unsafe act and unsportsmanlike conduct.
During the full-course caution period which occurred between Laps 53 and 55, the same caution period in which Tracy pitted, CART observers around the race track reported deliberate nose-to-tail contact initiated by Tracy against Walker Racing rookie Tora Takagi. This act represented further unjustifiable risk and reckless endangerment in the opinion of the stewards.
On Lap 61, Tracy retired from the event after going off course into a sand trap during a caution period. In an interview with ESPN following his exit, Tracy, who finished 18th, was in violation of Rule 1.6.7 with pointed and unsportsmanlike criticisms of CART officials.
Tracy's probation will be in effect for the final two events of the season, the Honda Indy 300 - Oct. 26-28 at Surfers Paradise, Australia - and the Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota, Nov. 2-4 at Fontana, Calif.
Terms of the probation are at the discretion of Kneifel.