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IndyCar race director talks about Sato’s tactics in Brazil

May 8, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

Sao Paulo Indy 300 - Day 3 Getty Images

IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield has spoken out on Takuma Sato’s driving maneuvers during the final laps of Sunday’s Sao Paulo Indy 300, in which the ex-Formula One racer used some borderline moves to repel attempts from Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe to take his lead.

In comments made to The Indianapolis Star, Barfield said that Sato was mostly following the curve of Sao Paulo’s backstretch, where he appeared to move toward the inside to stymie both Newgarden and Hinchcliffe. Race Control reviewed Sato on both counts but opted not to penalize him, and Hinchcliffe managed to get past Sato in the final corner on the last lap to take the win.

In addition, Barfield maintains that camera angles were unable to give him and his team enough to decide whether Sato moved along with his pursuers in mere defense or in reaction to their attempts. With no clear evidence in their eyes, Race Control opted to let the drivers duke it out.

“He was aggressive [and] right on the edge,” Barfield said. “We looked at so many clips after the race and to (discuss) specifically, they run together. A couple made it really difficult to call.”

As for the matter of his officiating style so far in 2013, Barfield said he’s decided to give the drivers more leeway because of no major incidents and also because of the strong racing product.

“Letting the race play out — Don’t let the officiating dominate the story,” he said in summing up his current approach.

Nonetheless, even though Hinchcliffe won in what would appear to be a case of “all’s well that ends well,” Barfield still took some criticism. Most notable were tweets from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti (which you can find here), who both expressed displeasure on the subject.

  1. midtec2005 - May 8, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    I think after Darios chop at Indy last year he should keep his mouth shut about blocking…

    • indycarseries500 - May 8, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      Care to elaborate? The last lap Dario took a defensive line and Sato went under him, Dario left a lot of room and Sato just couldn’t hold the line and spun out.

      • pkfive - May 8, 2013 at 8:21 PM

        A Driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing Drivers to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag “drive through” penalty.

        Hmmmmm…sure looked like Dario altered his line based on the actions of a pursuing driver…never saw Dario go in that low all race…as Dario said, he must have had a broken steering rack!

        Why are Dario and Scott chirping about it anyway…it had nothing to do with them. I think they just don’t like the changing of the guard.

        In reality, I did not like it on Sunday…I also did not like it last year at Indy. However, both times, great races, exciting finishes, without an official getting involved. Let them race!

  2. icemanpjn - May 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I’m wanting Ryan Newman to chime in on this because, in his great wealth of knowledge, blocking is an open-wheel thing, including IndyCar.

  3. purplesectornet - May 9, 2013 at 4:58 AM

    “Dario left a lot of room”…LMAO…

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