Dixon: Sonoma still tough to swallow; “a lot of things need clarity”

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on August 28, 2013 4:45 pm

Despite all of the information that’s come to light over the days since Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the controversial pit lane safety violation penalty, Scott Dixon’s position on the situation hasn’t changed.

“There’s two sides to the story and there’s blame on both sides, and yet I get the brunt of the penalty,” he says. “It’s still tough to swallow.”

And Dixon says this while knowing that the black and white of the rules is working against him.

“I know it’s hard for race control with the rule and how it’s written in the rule book, which in Penske’s defense is absolutely any pit equipment being hit and it clarifies for a drive-through,” he concedes. “But I think this was a different situation.

“When I started driving out of the pits, there was nothing in my line of sight and nothing in my trajectory that was altered by something moving towards that.”

Dixon also feels that there’s more gray area in the boundaries of the pit boxes than the post-incident discussion has allowed for.

“There’s no defined pit boxes, there’s no lines,” he says. “Everybody as a courtesy uses the corners of the pit boxes to enter and exit, as you can see clearly in any video of any pit stop. That’s common courtesy.

“Typically there’s common etiquette from people trying to avoid situations like this, and in some areas I don’t think that was applied.

“In the heart of the sport, you well know that your neighbors in pit lane can make your life extremely difficult through pit stops in the way that they sequence or how they stop the car in front of you. In that instance, Power’s car was stopped a little short and with the back tire kicked out, which made that corner of the box even more crowded.

“It’s something that hopefully we will all learn from and something they can evaluate. Maybe in due course it won’t have implications like it has this time.”

Dixon goes on to provide support for comments made after Sunday’s race by his teammate, Dario Franchitti, suggesting that a lack of clarity currently exists in the application of the rules in IndyCar.

“Even after my penalty,” Dixon explains, “starting at the back I was seeing how some of the restarts were jumped and lack of courtesy between drivers. It was mayhem back there.”

His suggestion for mitigating the issue: install video feeds on all cars to make post-race evaluation of incidents easier.

“In the future, I think it would be a good reference,” he says. “Many series around the world, whether it’s GP2 or V8 Supercars, have a camera in every car so you can look at these things with detail and try and get consistency. For us, that’s the biggest problem.”

One the other side of the coin, Dixon indicated a level of confidence in IndyCar’s officiating team now that Derrick Walker is firmly established in the picture.

“I think a lot of things need clarity,” Dixon says. “I know Derrick’s pushing hard for this and he’s working extremely hard, and I think he’s definitely the right person for the job. It just means it’s going to take a little while for his ways to come down and to be able to effect those.”

Regarding the IZOD IndyCar Series race director, however, his words were more pointed.

“That job is a thankless job,” he qualifies up front. “It’s very difficult. You’ve got many people trying to win races and not do everything they can to achieve that but they may twist things a little bit. Even with the current rule book, it’s very hard to have accurate calls on some instances.

“Personally, I think that person should not be in the spotlight at all. I don’t think you see too many other people in big series, whether it’s NASCAR or Formula 1, be interviewed or outspoken about it or anything like that. It lacks class, and they’re meant to be leading the series.”

As for how to refocus his season and set his sights back on the title, Dixon is ready to let the incident go.

“You can’t dwell on it,” he says. “It’s not going to change anything or make anything better. As I said earlier, I just hope that we can learn from instances like this, whether it’s making things safer but also having clarity to rules when sometimes there’s none there.

“For us, we’re going to go into every weekend like we do and try and win and try and have the best result possible.”

Scott Dixon recently spoke with More Front Wing in detail about the pit lane safety violation penalty at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and how it affects his approach to the remainder of his battle for the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. To hear the interview in its entirety, listen to the More Front Wing podcast, which will be released tomorrow morning. Find us on iTunes or right here at morefrontwing.com.

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