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Some controversy emerges over red flag timing during IndyCar qualifying

May 31, 2013, 8:00 PM EST

Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix - Day 1 Getty Images

Qualifying for an IndyCar road or street course race will always leave some drivers unhappy and feeling as though they “got screwed.” Friday’s mixed wet-dry qualifying for the first race in the Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit was no different.

At the end of the wet Q1, Charlie Kimball crashed on the exit of Turn 2, and slid down to Turn 3. He pulled off course, and the session remained green for full course but with a local yellow in Turn 3.

All drivers bar Sebastien Bourdais (pictured) – who’s making his 100th open-wheel start this weekend – didn’t slow down, and the Dragon Racing driver felt slighted as he tumbled down the timesheets to eighth in his group.

“I’m pretty unhappy,” Bourdais fumed to IndyCar Radio. “There was the local yellow, and everyone bettered their lap. It’s total BS; it’s not right. No one is doing anything about it. I let off and I got screwed.”

The drama continued into Q2, when Helio Castroneves spun at the exit of Turn 3 and could not restart. The Team Penske driver couldn’t find the reverse gear, then got out of his car. Several drivers made it through under a local yellow, before IndyCar Race Control threw a red flag moments afterwards.

“We expected a fair shot,” A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato told IndyCar Radio. “It was a local yellow. Then they kept going with no condition change, then went red for no reason. Then they stopped. It wasn’t fair and was an interesting qualifying, and we’re not happy.”

The usually unflappable Simon Pagenaud of HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports was nearly apoplectic about the change.

“There was danger on the race track,” Pagenaud admitted to IndyCar Radio. “But you don’t do yellow then red; then everyone gets hosed. We respected the rules. We’re starting ninth and had the chance to move higher. It’s not a fair way of refereeing. It’s very rare I raise my voice.”

As for Castroneves, he was more frustrated with himself than anything else.

“What I did in the car, I didn’t turn it back,” he told IndyCar Radio. “I locked the rear and spun. My frustration wasn’t with the spin, I just couldn’t find reverse. I did whatever they were telling me and the car never had the opportunity to get there. You get forward, backwards, and then stall it. The fricking reverse didn’t work!”

  1. Jeff - Jun 1, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Well if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas.

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