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Dixon Prevails in Wild Edmonton Finish

Scott Dixon was surprised, Helio Castroneves was steaming and Will Power continues to lead the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings though he was thwarted again in seeking his third consecutive victory.

That capsulizes the Honda Indy Edmonton at City Centre Airport, where the podium finishers on stage were subdued while Castroneves was animated on pit lane. But it's far from the entire story.

Dixon prevailed in the 95-lap race on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn circuit courtesy of a black flag issued to race leader Castroneves for blocking on Lap 93.

Scott Dixon (centre) celebrates a controversial win in Edmonton. Photo by IMS Photo

Castroneves and Will Power entered Turn 1 side by side following a restart, with Castroneves hitting the apex a car length ahead. As Dixon slipped past Power into second, race chief steward Brian Barnhart immediately called Castroneves for blocking his Team Penske teammate.

“Helio had the inside line,” Power said. “I tried to go around the outside, sort of got pushed wide, and Scott got through. I would say a black flag is a pretty harsh penalty, but it is what it is. It was just one of those racing things. When you’re leading on the last restart you want to keep the lead.”

The call was radioed to the No. 3 car, but Castroneves didn't heed the drive-thru pit lane penalty. Following the race, he received a 20-second penalty, which placed him at the end of the lead lap (10th). A black flag cannot be appealed, according to Indy Racing League rules.

“I never moved my line,” Castroneves said a few minutes after the checkered flag. “I actually did move him outside. When you go side by side like that with your teammate and they just take it away from you, it’s just absurd.”

Castroneves, who was issued a blocking penalty late in the 2008 race on the streets of Belle Isle that allowed Justin Wilson to take the point and eventually the victory, three hours after the decision issued this statement:

“Obviously, I disagree with the decisions made by the race officials on the last restart in today’s race, but there is no excuse for my actions after the checkered flag," said Castroneves, who confronted three IZOD IndyCar Series officials, including grabbing one by the collar. "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 following rules were applied:

Rule 9.3 (B) A driver must not alter his/her racing line based on the actions of pursuing Drivers or use an abnormal racing line to inhibit or prevent passing. Blocking will result in a minimum of a black flag “drive through” penalty.

Rule 7.1 (B) (4) (C) (4) The senior official shall determine the type and length of any black flag. The penalized car shall proceed to pit lane as directed by Officials and may return to the Race only upon the declaration of Officials. In the case of the Driver Violating the Rules, no work may be performed on a Car during the execution of a black flag penalty. Should any such work occur, the conditions of the penalty are unfilled and the penalty procedure must be executed again in its entirety on a subsequent lap. The penalty may not be protested and/or appealed.

Rule 9.2 (A) Race Procedure Penalties are a result of a on Track conduct and are generally imposed during on Track activity. If the imposition of a penalty is near or at the end of on Track activity and Driver/Car does not fulfill it, the Senior Official may reposition the Driver/Car in the posting of results or apply the penalty to subsequent on Track activity to reflect the fulfillment of the penalty. The penalty including without limitation any repositioning in a posting is non-protestable and/or appealable.

Barnhart discussed blocking during the morning drivers meeting.

“You have plenty of options on where to put your car and we should not have any defending or blocking,” he said in the closed-door meeting. “Again, we will be visually dividing the braking point through the entry into the corner in half. You can only be on the inside half if you are attempting to pass someone. If you are on the inside half because you are under attack from someone else, it is blocking. Don’t move your car in reaction to a following car and don’t impede the progress of a car with a run on you.”

Dixon, who started third, was running third after pitting for the final time on Lap 74 along with Castroneves and Power. He said he thought that because Castroneves and Power were far right of the racing line that they would be in the marbles and he could slip past both.

“Brian always says that if you’re blocking going into any corner and you are on the right side – especially into Turn 1, you’re going to get a penalty,” said Dixon, who won for the second time this season. “We get told every week, so you could see something was going to happen.Obviously, Will had a pretty good run. The only way from stopping him was blocking. So if that's what you call it, yeah, that's blocking.

“All in all, not what I expected to happen at the end. In some ways, I knew those two, Will and Helio, were fighting pretty hard. You could see that the first time Helio passed Will. But to go that far to the right I think in Turn 1, I just continued on with the regular line where it's nice and clean and figured or hoped that they picked up a lot of debris and were going to make it tough through 1 and 2. That's kind of what happened. Pretty strange to not lead a lap and actually win the race.”

Castroneves overtook Power, the pole sitter, in Turns 1-2 of Lap 78 and recorded his fastest race lap on 79 (1 minute, 2.3139 seconds) to put a 1.5-second gap between himself and Power. It appeared that Castroneves would go on to his second victory. His first of the season – at Barber Motorsports Park in mid-April -- derailed Power’s bid for a series record-tying third consecutive victory.

But a full-course caution was called on Lap 89 after the No. 78 car driven by Simona de Silvestro ran out of fuel and pulled off course in Turn 7. Castroneves led the field into Turn 1 of the restart, with Power making a bid to regain the lead he had for 76 laps.

Power recovered to finish second -- his sixth podium of the season.Dixon’s Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti finished third -- also his sixth podium of the season -- and Ryan Briscoe was fourth. Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay finished fifth. KV Racing Technology cars finished 6-9 with Paul Tracy, Mario Moraes, E.J. Viso and Takuma Sato occupying those spots.

Power retains the series championship lead, taking a 50-point lead over Franchitti into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance on Aug. 8.

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