IndyCar has been lauded for its changes in Race Control this year as Director of Competition Beaux Barfield has taken control of the series’ stewards and has generally been cheered by drivers and teams for his quick and decisive rulings over on-track matters.
Yesterday, Barfield and Indy Car had to respond quickly to a mistake made by Race Control during yesterday’s event at the Milwaukee Mile – a mistake that may have championship implications for one of its most popular drivers.
We looked at the replay at what ended up being the backed off restart the lap before and made the call, which was clearly a jumped start. In a green flag situation, it was waved off for that reason.
Scott Dixon was given a drive-through penalty for jumping a restart on Lap 124, blunting a charge that had seen the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver climb from 21st to third as the race entered its final 100 laps. The purported violation caused Dixon to fall out of contention for the win, and left him to finish 11th.
After the race, Barfield and IndyCar admitted that a confluence of factors combined to mislead the race stewards, leading them to issue a penalty on a restart that had been waved off, not of the actual restart that Dixon performed cleanly.
“When we did our complete download after the race, the clock on our replay machine was 36 seconds off from the official time of the race,” Barfield explained. “Thirty-six seconds happened to match up perfectly to the lap before, based on these circumstances. It synced up so perfectly that it was convincing it was the wrong call based on the reality of the situation. We looked at the replay at what ended up being the backed off restart the lap before and made the call, which was clearly a jumped start. In a green flag situation, it was waved off for that reason.”
Barfield said that he had explained the situation to the Ganassi squad upon learning of the error, but there was no way that Indy Car could go back and alter the results.
“Where does it leave Scott Dixon? It's racing, and once a penalty is served, I can't then jump back in and undo it,” lamented Barfield. “I take full responsibility for it being the wrong call. Certainly, I have my issues going for it. My biggest error in this is that I didn't play it far enough forward, and moments later realized this was the waved-off start; it didn't make sense. I have been through issues before to play an incident all the way through to provide the full context, and that was an oversight on my part. It was a technical issue and certainly human error. It is painful, nonetheless.”
The result was exceptionally harsh on Dixon’s championship ambitions when coupled with Will Power’s 12th-place finish. Dixon ate a single point into what is now a 35-point lead in the series standings for Power, but a third-place run would have given Dixon another 16 points that might loom large as the season continues.