Well, the dust has finally settled on the 2012 Long Beach Grand Prix. As it turned out it was truly a Southern California street fight! From my perspective in Race Control it was non stop action. We were reviewing calls as quickly as we could get the replay system queued up! It all started with Dario and the new young gun, Josef Newgarden, on the front row. Josef made a very optimistic move on Dario and tried to go around Dario on the outside of turn one. Dario didn’t exactly give him much room and it “APPEARED” that the two had contact, and in fact I “THINK” they probably did.
Here is where it gets sticky, you can’t penalize someone for something that you think they did without conclusive evidence that they really did it. We looked at it over and over and they were extremely close but you just couldn’t tell for certain with the camera angles we had. Yes, Dario should have given him more room and possibly Josef shouldn’t have tried that move on lap one but you know, it’s racing and I can’t really blame Josef for trying. Would we have penalized Dario if we had hard evidence of certain contact?….probably, but that’s ultimately Beaux’s call as he is the race director.
There were a few other calls and most were very clear to us in race control, Hunter-Reay took out Sato, Helio got into the back of Barrichello in T11 on the last lap causing a track blockage, that was a mess! But the big one was the contact between Andretti and Rahal. Marco was attempting a pass on Graham coming into T8 and Graham moved over after Marco had started his move, the two made contact and it sent Marco flying into the turn 8 tire wall. Both cars were out of the race so no immediate penalty was accessed.
Monday night after the race Beaux asked Arie Luyendyk and myself to review the footage and give our opinions, it was clear that Graham made his move after Marco made his, in the context of the rule this is blocking and avoidable contact so Beaux placed Graham on a 6 race probation period. Seems as now the gloves are off and the drivers are warmed up, let the games begin! I won’t be going to Brazil for the IndyCar race on April 28th as I have to be at the IMSA race in Salt Lake City for Cooper Tire but I will be in Indy for most of May and will keep you updated!
Johnny Unser[Gallery not found]