Gee, what a surprise.
As expected, the appeals of the results of the Indy car race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway two weeks ago (that was when the chief steward ruled that a restart that saw a change in the finishing order of the race hadn’t really happened) were denied today by a three-member panel hand-picked by the chief steward.
The appeals panel thanked everybody for their “excellent” presentations but said that, in the end, the chief steward has all the power and can do whatever he wants.
Or something like that.
This is like 2002, when Paul Tracy won the Indianapolis 500 and the chief steward – the same guy, by the way – ruled that he hadn’t. When Team Green appealed, it was told it couldn’t appeal the decision of the chief steward.
So, why bother?
Here is the text of the media release sent out by the IZOD IndyCar Series a few minutes ago:
INDYCAR announced today that the top three finishing positions of the Aug. 14 MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway were upheld during a protest hearing Aug. 23 in Indianapolis.
The hearing was conducted by a panel consisting of Jerry Gappens, Rollie Helmling and Jeff Stoops. As Senior Official and pursuant to IZOD IndyCar Series Rule 12.4, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Brian Barnhart (Norris note: a.k.a.. the chief steward) elected to have a panel resolve the protests filed by Newman/Haas Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
The protests were denied based on these grounds, according to a signed statement from the panel:
"After hearing the excellent presentations by each of the participants in the protest hearing and after reviewing and being sympathetic with each of their positions, the Protest Panel was unanimous in its decision. It is this Protest 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. d/b/a Target Chip Ganassi Racing car number 9 and Newman/Haas Racing, LLC car number 2 are hereby denied."
Per Rule 13.1 of the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, the decision may be appealed by 5 p.m. (ET) of the second business day following the release of the decision.
As I said at the beginning, this was "as expected." This was a whitewash from the start, as I pointed out in a post here entitled "Appeals panel suspect."
Newman-Haas Racing issued the following statement late this morning:
Newman/Haas Racing released the following quotes today regarding the decision by the IndyCar Series panel to deny the protest filed by the team following the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 14.
Carl Haas, owner of Newman-Haas Racing:
"The IndyCar Series granted us a hearing and has been very cooperative in providing us with requested information enabling us to adequately present our case. We feel that we gave the panel proof that Oriol was the winner of the event when the checkered flag ended the race. Naturally we are very 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."
Oriol Servia, driver of the No. 2 Telemundo entry for Newman-Haas Racing:
“I am very 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 resolution 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.”