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Helio Castroneves‘ passion is part of what has made him one of the best IndyCar drivers of a generation.
Now, that emotion might have gotten the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion in trouble.
IndyCar Series officials are reviewing an incident involving Castroneves just after the checkered flag flew at Sunday’s race in Edmonton. Castroneves crossed the line first, but was penalized for blocking teammate Will Power on the final restart and Scott Dixon was declared the winner.
Enraged by the decision, the Brazilian driver bolted from his car after the race and started screaming at IndyCar officials, touching one on the chest and grabbing another by the collar. The second official, who was much bigger than the 5-foot-8, 147-pound driver, didn’t react to Castroneves, who was eventually pulled back.
Castroneves issued an apology for his post-race actions on his website on Monday.
“Although we do not agree to the penalty, there is no excuse for my actions after the checkered flag,” he said. “I apologize to my team, our sponsors, the fans and the entire IZOD IndyCar Series community for my behavior. My actions were totally wrong and I acted inappropriately to some people who are my friends and people I respect very much. Obviously, I am a very emotional person and today I let my emotions get the better of me and I’m very sorry for that.”
The incident happened with three laps to go after Simona De Silvestro drove off the course after running out of fuel. Power gunned to the outside of Castroneves and appeared to have a good enough run for the pass, but had to back off after Castroneves altered his line.
IndyCar Series competition president Brian Barnhart black-flagged the No. 3 Team Penske car for blocking, but Castroneves refused to take the drive-through penalty, bypassing the pits twice on his way to crossing the finish line first.
The flag man held the checkers when Castroneves passed, waving it few seconds later when Dixon crossed for his second IndyCar win this season. Castroneves, who lost the 2008 Detroit Grand Prix to Justin Wilson in similar fashion, was dropped to 10th.
“Obviously, I disagree with the decisions made by the race officials on the last restart in today’s race,” he said. “It was absurd, because I never changed my racing line.”
“It”s really disappointing that it comes down to something like this,” Barnhart said in a video posted on websites for IndyCar and the Versus network. “In a situation like that, we as officials are just reacting to what happens on the racetrack. We don’t create the situation; we respond to it. And the rule is clear in it. In every drivers’ meeting, we talk about it.”
Now, Castroneves has given them something else to talk about.
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