Chip Ganassi racer Graham Rahal has been placed on probation for the next six races after IndyCar Series officials ruled him at-fault for the violent mid-race collision between himself and Marco Andretti during last weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Dicing in the midfield, Andretti attempted to pass his fellow American on the inside as they approached Turn 9 on the twenty-second lap of the race, only to find himself launched into a near-cartwheel as he clipped the back of Rahal’s car. Rahal had moved slightly to the right to defend his position, catching Andretti completely off-guard.
“All stewards have reviewed the incident and have decided that the on-track actions of Graham warranted probation because of driving that endangers on-track safety and adversely affects competition,” the series’ race director Beaux Barfield said.
Rahal was found to have breached Articles 9.3.2 and 9.3.3 of the IndyCar rulebook, which respectively govern blocking and impeding other competitors on the track.
The decision means that Rahal will remain on probation until the championship round at Iowa on June 23.
The incident triggered a war of words between the pair, as each driver blamed the other for causing the accident.
“By the rules, you’re allowed to make one move. I made one move,” Rahal told the media after the race.
“At the speed he hit me at, he wouldn’t have made the corner. It broke my gearbox, that’s how hard he hit me. If we had just run wheel to wheel, it would never, ever have been that bad. But the rate of speed that he was carrying, he wasn’t going to make it. Plus, at that corner at that time, I was protecting my line to the right, which I’m allowed to do by the rules.”
“What’s Marco’s last name?” he added, hinting that Marco Andretti seldom took responsibility for his part in racing accidents. “I’ve said enough.”
That last comment hardly went down well in the Andretti family, with Marco’s grandfather – the legendary Mario Andretti – taking to Twitter to voice his ire at Rahal:
Thankfully, the two kissed and made up and short time later by telephone. There’s nothing like two grown men having a ‘handbags at dawn’ moment on Twitter…