IRL: Indianapolis 500 appeal press conference, part II

86th Indianapolis 500 Press Conference With: Tony George Wednesday, July 3, 2002 Part 2 of 2 Q Tony, I understand what the rule says, but now that you have seen all this evidence that Team Green has shown you, throwing out the rule, was there...

86th Indianapolis 500 Press Conference
With: Tony George

Wednesday, July 3, 2002
Part 2 of 2

Q Tony, I understand what the rule says, but now that you have seen all this evidence that Team Green has shown you, throwing out the rule, was there enough evidence, in your opinion? Did they have a good case for overturning this decision?

George: I don't believe so. I think that clearly upon, you know, looking at all of the evidence, there was clearly evidence that Brian made the right call and that whatever was presented -- I won't say it was irrelevant, but it was certainly not enough to support considering overturning the decision that was made on his best judgment. I think that there was some very interesting evidence presented; but at the end of the day, you know, Brian made the right call. Clearly, the call for caution had happened in advance of the pass. When Brian made the decision to go down for yellow, and the placement of the cars, was clearly the right call.

So it's one of those things where, you know, it's very close. The IRL breeds very close competition, and we've seen that throughout all of our races. This is one of those situations where it was very close again. Only this time it was for the call of a yellow flag, which earlier in the race happened four times at another point in time. And at other races at different points in time during the series, there have been other close calls for positions other than first and second where teams feel like maybe they should be placed differently on the racetrack. But, again, that would just be an unworkable situation for the officials to try and deal with.

I think our rules are written the way they are for a reason. I'm convinced that not only do we have a sound Rule Book, that can always be improved, but we have a very sound Rule Book. We'll continue to conduct our race operations the same way as we have up to this point into the future.

Nation: Next question.

Q Two questions. One: Brian said it took four to five seconds by the time they got the lights on around the track. In the old days the observers weren't allowed to call the yellow light but they'd call, "Yellow, yellow, yellow." I talked to Art Graham this morning, he said the process usually took a couple seconds. Have you guys thought about -- this is such a big racetrack -- have you thought about giving the observers, giving them a little more leeway to either press the button or make it a little quicker? Because if it's called right away, no one disputes the fact that Tracy hadn't passed him when the crash occurred.

George: They didn't call, "Yellow, yellow, yellow," they called for an accident in Turn 2. The Race Control is the one who called yellow. Clearly the accident, all the evidence that was presented, clearly the accident happened some seconds before the move was made at the end of the back straightaway. There clearly, based on the perspective of Brian at the time and the information that he had to base his decision to go yellow on, clearly Helio was in front when the call was made, and clearly the information had been communicated that we were going yellow before the 3 car was passed.

Q But the Rule Book states racing ceases when the yellow light and/or yellow flag is displayed, not when the crash happens. That's what I am saying. To expedite that process, did you guys talk about --

George: Well, the competitors are instructed through drivers' briefings, through bulletins and through supplemental rules to the Rule Book, they're repeatedly reinforced with the procedure for yellows. And it's all of these different inputs that they're to be in tuned to. It's not just the yellow flag -- or just the yellow light, or the yellow light in this instance can refer to yellow lights onboard or yellow lights around the track.

But clearly they're all instructed to monitor Race Control frequencies and respond to the radio calls as well. And Paul Tracy was, in fact, at the driver briefings that took place during the month where that was reiterated.

Q The second question is: The three guys that had the PI System telemetry, Cheever, Penske and Kelley Racing, Al Unser video's showed that his light, the light in his cockpit didn't go yellow until after the yellow had come on on the track. Which lights do you use to --

George: I don't want to necessarily get into all that today, but signals are sent to the cars and processed. The telemetry can be prioritized; the receipt of information can be prioritized. So there could be a delay from one car to another based on that. There could be a delay on the human reaction of flipping a switch or pushing a button to signal a radio call. That's why we have the redundancies built in. But clearly the majority of those signals were sent and received prior to the pass.

Q Obviously, Barry (Green) spent a lot of time and a lot of money in presenting what he did a couple of weeks ago. Was he fully aware that an appeal would not mean much at this point?

George: Well, we felt that, you know, given the stature of the race, given the stature of the two teams that -- I really don't know that I can answer that. I think we wanted to review all of the evidence that they wanted to provide. Clearly Penske took a very different view that we should, as you'll find in the detailed report, that this was something that was not protestable or appealable. You know, I wrestle with that myself, but having gone through the process, I think it was the right thing to do. Again, I don't know that, you know, had we saved ourselves the trouble that Barry would have felt any better about the decision then than he would today. I think he felt that he had a case; he said that from the beginning. He didn't want to pursue it if he didn't think he had a case. I think we felt that it was important to listen to Barry and see what they had to present. They did a very professional job presenting their case, a lot of information. And, again, I won't use the term "irrelevant" because, you know, I think it's important. But, clearly, I think without a doubt the evidence supports that Brian made the right decision.

Q At what point in the process did you determine that rule 11.2 was going to be the sort of governing rule here? And at any point since you've looked that up, did you think about calling the people involved in this and saying this is not protestable, this is not appealable, we're kind of wasting our time here?

George: Well, I think due to everyone's schedule immediately following Indianapolis, you know, with Milwaukee, with Texas, with Colorado, with some personal travels that I had, that Penske had, that Barry had, I think that we felt that communicating that today after going through the process, you know, is doing justice to the decision that weighed in the balance. And to just call up and say, "Barry, I don't care what you have, it doesn't matter," I suppose we could have done that. I don't know, again, that he would have accepted that any better than he necessarily will accept this decision today.

But, you know, I don't know. I think we, again, went through the process to see if we might have missed something or there was something in the rules that would cause us to reconsider. But having done that, I don't believe that is the case. I know that's not the case.

Nation: This is the last question, and then everything that we've talked about is dealt with in detail in the report, which is right outside the door.

Q Tony, this is kind of following what you were just talking about. But Tim Cindric said at the hearing here that Team Penske basically opened the hearing by making this very case, that this was not an appealable thing. So why go ahead with the hearing? I guess the question is just the timing in your mind. I mean, is that when you first considered this, then, as the solution to this dilemma or did you go into the hearing pretty much knowing that it was just an exercise?

George: Well, I happened to be standing down on the start/finish line watching the ABC broadcast. And so I know what I saw is consistent with what Brian saw; and if I were him, I would have made the same call. I think that the fact that he made the call he did, you know, was justified. I think that at that point I realized this was going to be something that was going to be controversial, and that this was not something that was going to end with the swig of milk necessarily. But I felt comfortable with what my eyes saw, that he made the right call. The fact that it happened so late in the race did not give anyone an opportunity to sort it back out, you know. A similar situation that may have happened three laps sooner or whatever might have resulted in, you know, holding up the going-back-to-green conditions and getting the cars realigned and all that and, you know, would that decision be protested? I don't know.

I think it's just the circumstances the way it happened that allowed -- that caused us to really sit back and look at this thing and try and make sure we weren't missing something. That's what we did. On advice of people that I consult with on a regular basis, I tried to keep myself certainly distant from the decisions that Brian was making immediately following the race in any way, other than my own casual interest. But I felt that, you know, this would come to me if it were protested and subsequently appealed, it would come to me, and I would be asked to deal with that either personally or by appointing someone else to.

But, again, it's difficult to sit here and tell you that we should have just told Barry right then and there this is not protestable, it's not appealable. Again, I think that this situation warranted more than that.

Nation: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.

-irl-

Tony George part I

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Paul Tracy , Al Unser Sr. , Tony George
Teams Team Penske