The Block: What’s the real issue?

IndyCar commentary — By on July 25, 2010 11:34 pm
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(Originally posted by Steph to Planet-IRL.com.)

According to the definition of blocking as stated in the rules, and according to the statements made by Brian Barnhart in the drivers’ meeting this morning, Helio Castroneves did in fact block Will Power going into turn 1.

However, according to what any rational viewer would consider an appropriate definition of blocking in the first place, Helio clearly did no wrong.

We’re told that at road and street courses, as well as some ovals, the track is divided in half.  If you’re on the inside half when another driver is attempting to pass you, it’s considered blocking.

Really?  Because that just sounds like defending a position.  Why should forcing a competitor to work for a pass be against the rules?

If a driver checks up and forces an erratic evasive maneuver, then sure — that is clearly blocking.  It’s dangerous.  Similarly, if a driver cuts another driver off and forces that driver to brake unexpectedly, that’s also blocking.

But what we’re doing here is crossing the line from preventing blocking (and thereby keeping the racing safe) and going into the territory of preventing racing.  And we wonder why we’re seeing less passing than we should be.  We’ll never see a thrilling pass to the outside again if the very act of moving to the inside will result in a black flag for the defender.

So, the problem, then, is simply and plainly obvious: we’re currently being over-officiated.

To call for anyone’s firing is probably too far.  But more than one member of the IICS brass needs to look at this situation and analyze whether this aspect of officiating is being handled correctly.

After all, if the rules say you’re right, but more than 95% of the viewership says you’re wrong*, that kind of discrepancy simply can’t be shrugged off — at least, not without expecting to lose more than a few fans in the process.

*

* This statistic comes from an unscientific poll conducted by SPEED TV and used during tonight’s Wind Tunnel broadcast.
(Photo courtesy of Fox Sports)

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