Some IndyCar drivers wary of Long Beach fallout
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Helio Castroneves expects some fallout from the bad tempers left over from the last IndyCar race.
James Hinchcliffe, however, thinks most drivers have calmed down heading into Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama with the possible exception being Simon Pagenaud.
The Long Beach flareups included Pagenaud refusing to accept an apology after getting spun from behind by Will Power. Ryan Hunter-Reay’s attempt to pass Josef Newgarden on a tight turn led to a collision that collected Hinchcliffe and several other drivers.
”I don’t think we’re in the business of retaliating in IndyCar,” said Hinchcliffe, a teammate of Hunter-Reay with Andretti Autosport. ”That’s not what it’s about. It’s not what they mean by letting it self-police. The only guy that really leaves Long Beach with anything to get back at is maybe Simon. So we’ll see. Will might want to be careful around him on-track.
”For the rest of us, you’ve got to have a short memory in this business.”
Castroneves thinks there might be some bad blood still, and Pagenaud has said Power ”set the tone for the rest of the season.”
”I feel that there is some retaliation, but I don’t think anybody’s stupid enough to do something crazy,” Castroneves said. ”They might be a little more aggressive. Hopefully they have a short memory but at the end of the day it’s still racing.”
Hunter-Reay, the defending champion at Barber Motorsports Park, said he has spoken with Newgarden. He said if he had a chance to do it over again he’d likely have waited a bit to try the pass and can learn from it.
”If you don’t come out of something like that better, then it’s useless,” Hunter-Reay said. ”I’ve won quite a few races in my career going for passes like that. That’s kind of how I’ve been. That one for sure, it was unfortunate. And take a lesson from it. I’m the guy doing the overtaking, so it’s on me.”
HELIO’S PENALTY: Castroneves says he’d already learned his lesson about posting critical comments on Twitter. Now, he’s figuring his family has, too.
IndyCar put Castroneves on probation through June for violating social media policy. A post on his official account after the race in Long Beach, California, criticized race control for not penalizing drivers during the race. It was an image of IndyCar’s official logo and a photo-shopped ”thumbs down” symbol.
”Unfortunately, it was a mistake,” Castroneves said. ”My sister ended up using my account. I’m still responsible for the people around me. Rules are rules. Nothing I can do. So hopefully my team will be more careful so they don’t make mistakes like that.”
He was fined $30,000 in 2011 for a Tweet calling a race director ”a circus clown.”
”I learned my lesson a few years ago,” Castroneves said. ”I wouldn’t do it again.”
PRACTICE RESULTS: Hunter-Reay had the fastest practice lap of Friday’s two sessions, with a time of 1:08.7836 in warm conditions at the 2.38-mile track. Sebastien Bourdais of France was second with a time of 1:08.9311 followed by Newgarden (1:08.9336).
”This is quite a bit hotter than we’re used to at Barber, throwing all the teams for a bit of a loop,” Hunter-Reay said.
POINTS DEDUCTIONS: IndyCar penalized Chevrolet 50 points and Honda 30 points from their manufacturer championship totals because of engine violations.
The Chevy-powered cars driven by Bourdais, Power, Sebastian Saavedra and Mike Conway – the Long Beach winner – and Honda’s Jack Hawksworth lost 10 points for an engine repair requiring a component change without IndyCar approval. Both manufacturers broke a rule changing engines before meeting the 2,500-mile threshold, involving Chevy’s Charlie Kimball and Honda’s Mikhail Aleshin and Pagenaud.
Chevy has a 197-112 lead.
HINCH’S MEMORY: Hinchcliffe spent much last year’s race parked beside the track in his car after damage sustained on the first lap.
The caution period wasn’t long enough for IndyCar officials to tow him back to pit lane.
”That one’s a tough one to forget, but hopefully after this weekend we’ll be able to put it firmly behind us,” Hinchcliffe said. ”It was unfortunate, because I think the car was strong. Obviously qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted but I think we could have made some moves in the race. Hopefully this weekend goes a little bit more to plan.”