Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
Panel of three decided that Ryan Hunter-Reay won the New Hampshire race
The status-quo remained so on Wednesday as the three-man panel of Rollie Helmling, Jeff Stoops and Jerry Gappens decided in Andretti Autosport and Ryan Hunter-Reay’s favor as winner of the disputed Indy 225 race at New Hampshire International Speedway that was held in Loudon on August 14th. Second place was awarded to Newman/Haas Racing's Oriol Servia and third to Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing.
"We are very pleased with the decision given by the committee on the New Hampshire race finish," said team owner Michael Andretti. "Ryan drove a tremendous race at Loudon and his crew was outstanding that day. We believed all along that Ryan was the winner and this decision verifies his victory. Now we can focus on getting back to victory lane at Sonoma and Baltimore."
Thanks again to everyone who stood behind us.
Hunter-Reay commented, "I have always felt that we won the race in New Hampshire. The conditions were not ideal that day. A decision needed to be made, and I know that the team is pleased with the outcome of the hearing. Thanks again to everyone who stood behind us."
Protests filed by Newman/Haas Racing and Ganassi Racing regarding the results of the race were received by IndyCar within 30 minutes of the posting of official results on race day. A hearing on the final standing was held on Tuesday, August 23rd in Indianapolis at the headquarters of the governing body that controls the IZOD IndyCar series. All three podium finishers (team representatives) were given a chance to present their side of the controversial ending of the race.
Servia was leading the race, with Dixon and Hunter-Reay in tow, when the event was red-flagged due to the continuation of moisture on the racetrack after a restart which lead to the showing of the green flag followed by an immediate waving of the yellow flag due to a multi-car crash as the field was heading toward the start stand on a wet track. That left only five cars running.
Servia was later re-classified to second and Dixon was ruled third when the running order was reordered to the lap prior to Lap 217 restart. The order at that point in time was Hunter-Reay, Servia and Dixon.
Per the IndyCar release, the decision of the panel stated: “It is this Protest Panel's conclusion that INDYCAR Senior Official Brian Barnhart had the authority under the governing 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook to render the decision that was made. We also agree that his decision to abort the restart and set the finishing positions that existed before the attempted restart to be an exercise of reasonable discretion.”
About the outcome, Servia said, “I am very proud of Newman/Haas Racing and how they proved that the restart procedure was correct and that we were leading when the yellow came out. The panel resolution doesn't deny that. Their resolution states that Brian Barnhart has the power by the rulebook to make certain decisions at his discretion, and that is what happened.”
Dixon was traveling to Sonoma, Calif. for this weekend’s race which is on a road course where rain tires are used if needed.
A key point in Andretti's argument centered on one basic point: there would not have been any protests had series officials listened to drivers and teams who were pleading that they not restart the race due to the rain, since they only use slick tires on ovals and there is no rain tire for oval track racing in most series.
Gappens is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and has a background in media and public relations. Helmling is a former president of the United States Auto Club (USAC) and team owner. Stoops serves now as Chairman of the Board for USAC and is a former car owner. He currently maintains an interest as a sponsor of an IndyCar team.