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IndyCar Series: Witch Hunt, Are You In?

Andy BernsteinCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2010

LEEDS, AL - APRIL 9:   E.J. Viso of Venezuela, driver of the #8 KV Racing Technology Dallara Honda leads Milka Duno, driver of the #18  CITGO Dallara Honda through turn one during practice for the IRL IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park on April 9, 2010 in Leeds, Alabama. (Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images)
Dave Martin/Getty Images

A competitor in a road race has a gearbox malfunction. He pits, but the box is jammed in fourth gear. The team opts to send him back out to finish the race instead of effecting the time-consuming repairs.

Dude motors around well off the pace, stacking up traffic at several corners on the circuit. He wants to stay out and maybe collect a couple of extra championship points, and his sponsor would rather see the car on track. So he does his best to yield the racing line, but it is what it is. No way he can stay in the hunt.

Should he be black flagged? In my opinion yes, but it depends on the rules. If the rules specify a minimum speed in relation to the leaders, there is no grey area. Too slow = day over.

If the rule says the discretion of the Senior Official is the determining factor, he either grabs the black flag...or the blue one.

Milka Duno is no different. Most days she is, by far, the slowest car on the track. Safer than many, and sometimes there are slower cars. There were cars that could have been black flagged at Homestead last year, Sarah Fisher in particular.

The IRL rules give the decision to the Senior Official. So he black flags Milka when he sees fit, and Brian Barnhart has seen fit to do so very often. No problem.

No need to show anybody up, alienate a sponsor, cheat a team owner out of appearance money, or exaggerate the safety concerns: there are drivers on track who have caused a number of wrecks, and some may have even been intentional. Not Milka Duno.

So the problem is handled safely and discretely. Then a few bloggers shoot their mouth off, the masses jump on the bandwagon, and now it's a problem for everybody from the CEO to the guy who rebuilds Alex Lloyd's gearbox.

That's the kind of crap that should be black flagged. If better logic is required to determine who is granted a competition license, or whether a 93% minimum speed regulation is necessary, then fix it.

Otherwise, use the existing rules with discretion as Barnhart has done. No witch hunt required.

Ryan Hunter-Reay complains about getting balked of a qualifying lap, after having lost a couple by spinning himself out. The next week he punts Dixon off course.

Penalties for causing a yellow? Black flags? Witch hunts?

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Nope. Racin' deals, according to the decision of the Senior Official.

So are slow cars on track. Hunt down the Senior Official and hand him your complaint if you don't like the call. That's his job.

As for the witch hunters: your Twit fingers now have the green flag to race into action. That's the way issues get settled these days, by gathering enough support to shout down a minority opinion. Pop off a few cheap shots, taken behind the back or not. Maybe let your hon do it for you instead. 

Or you can cowboy up, hunt down the Senior Official, and hand him your complaint.

Door's open.

 

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