In one way, the IZOD IndyCar Series bosses got really lucky with one of the stupidest calls ever made in elite level racing when they black-flagged Helio Castroneves at the Honda Indy Edmonton.
To fill in those folks who were among the tens of millions of sports fans who didn’t watch the TSN/Versus telecast of Sunday’s event, Castroneves was leading the race on the final lap holding his line going in to Turn 1 of the Edmonton City Centre Airport temporary street course when Penske Racing teammate Will Power attempted a pass on the outside line that failed sending the No. 12 Verizon-sponsored Dallara way wide and allowing Scott Dixon to move into second place.
IndyCar sheriff Brian Barnhart waited for what seemed like an eternity, then black-flagged Castroneves for blocking Power. Castroneves crossed the start/finish line with Dixon — who had never led a lap the entire race — in second and Power third.
Barnhart’s call, however, put Dixon on the top step of the podium and Castroneves back to 10th place.
Other than the drivers who benefited from the enormous Barnhart gaffe — that would be Dixon, Power, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy, who all moved up on the final leader board — no one could believe what had occurred.
But luckily the race was being shown on that vast wasteland of television sports — Versus — in the U.S. and any controversy went pretty much unnoticed.
As impressive as Jamie McMurray’s win was Sunday at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400, it galled a whole lot of folks that team co-owner Chip Ganassi was accepting the accolades at the end of the race as if it was all about him.
Not to take anything away from the Pittsburgh native — having his name on race cars that won the Daytona 500, The Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season is a historic first.
But he hardly did it alone. People in the NASCAR paddock know all too well that before he merged his Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team with Dale Earnhardt Inc. last season he was facing the prospect of pulling out of stock car racing.
When he partnered up with DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt it turned his fortunes around significantly.
Was there a more impressive driving display anywhere on the weekend that matched J.R. Fitzpatrick’s flag to flag victory Sunday in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Canadian Tire 100 in Edmonton? .... Homesickness may have played a big part in Marcos Ambrose’s decision to severe his ties with the JTG Daugherty Racing Sprint Cup team at the end of this season.
Ambrose has often stated the continental divide between his family in Australia and racing in the U.S. was a burden. “After five years, I personally felt it was time for a change,” Ambrose said in a statement Tuesday. “I have no firm plans of what will come next for me and my career. I would like to continue in NASCAR and finish off what I started, but I have not discounted returning to Australia.” ... Aric Almirola will be on standby at Pocono and again next week at Watkins Glen for Hendrick Motorsports as the backup driver to Jeff Gordon in case Gordon’s wife Ingrid goes into labour.