Hunter-Reay keeps New Hampshire win

Indycar

IndyCar has upheld Ryan Hunter-Reay’s controversial win at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 14 by denying the protests made by Newman/Haas and Target/Chip Ganassi Racing. The top three finishing positions in the race remain the same and are now official, with Hunter-Reay having won from Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon.

The protests were issued after the rain-affected race ended in acrimony. Following a late restart called by IndyCar senior official Brian Barnhart, a multi-car crash in slippery conditions eliminated title contender Will Power among others. The race was red-flagged and the results were reset prior to the restart, handing Hunter-Reay the win. But following the restart he had been passed by Newman/Haas driver Servia and Ganassi’s Dixon, hence their challenge.

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Servia, Hunter-Reay and Dixon at New Hampshire

The hearing was held on Tuesday before a three-man panel comprising New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens and experienced USAC officials Rollie Helmling and Jeff Stoops. They issued a statement which said: “After hearing the presentations by each participant, the Protest Panel was unanimous in its decision. It is this 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. The protests as to Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Inc car number nine and Newman/Haas Racing car number two are hereby denied.”

“We are very pleased with the decision given by the committee on the New Hampshire race,” said Andretti Autosport 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. We have two big road racing events coming up in the next two weeks at Sonoma and Baltimore, and we can now focus on getting back to victory lane at those races.”

Hunter-Reay added: “I have always felt that we won the race in New Hampshire. The conditions were not ideal that day, and a proper decision needed to be made. I know that the entire Andretti Autosport team is pleased with the outcome of the hearing. It is a relief to now concentrate on the next race at Sonoma. We have scored more points in the last four races than any other driver, and I would love to continue that pattern at Infineon Raceway.”

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Hunter-Reay and Servia jostle for position on a restart

On the losing side, a philosophic Carl Haas said: “We feel we gave the panel proof that Oriol was the winner when the chequered flag ended the race. Naturally we are disappointed in the panel’s ruling that five laps of the race be struck from the results, but we appreciated the opportunity to state our position.”

And Servia added: “I am 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 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.”

On Wednesday Chip Ganassi said he had not decided if his team would appeal the decision in the limited time available. “Everything the chief steward did might well be within his power, but is that the right thing for the sport? There’s a fine line between what constitutes the legality of a chief steward’s decisions and the integrity of the sport.”

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