INDIANAPOLIS -- Helio Castroneves' victory in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday was upheld for the second time in less than 24 hours Monday, after the Indy Racing League denied runner-up Paul Tracy's protest of the results Monday afternoon.
During a two-hour hearing that included video replays, studies of the track's automated scoring system and testimony of other drivers from Sunday night, IRL Vice President of Operations Brian Barnhart upheld his previous decision that the yellow flag, which under IRL rules suspends racing for position, had been displayed prior to Tracy passing Castroneves on the 199th of 200 laps.
Tracy's team owner, Barry Green, protested the decision Sunday night. Green and Roger Penske, Castroneves' team owner, also were present during the hearing. Team Green has not ruled out filing an appeal; under IRL rules, it has five days to file such a motion.
"Team Green did not present anything conclusive enough for us to change our decision," said Barnhart, who upheld his initial decision after two hours of deliberations. "I really tried so hard to make the right decision, from my heart and my gut. If the protest was frivolous, we wouldn't have wasted five or six hours (Sunday) night and most of today reviewing all of the data."
On Lap 199, with Castroneves leading and Tracy in dogged pursuit, Tracy overtook Castroneves on the outside in Turn 3. Barnhart ruled the yellow flag had been shown prior to the pass because of a crash between Buddy Lazier and Laurent Redon on another section of the track, and Castroneves was allowed to retake the lead and drive to his second consecutive victory under caution.
Several hours after Castroneves' boisterous celebration on Victory Lane, and long after the approximately 400,000 fans had left the track, race officials were unsure of the winner. But following an extensive review of television replays and other data, the IRL posted the official results at 8:40 p.m. EDT, and Castroneves was shown as the winner. Tracy was second.
Team Green spokeswoman Carol Wilkins said Tracy and Green were disappointed by the decision today. If Green appeals the ruling, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Chief Executive Officer Tony George would have 30 days to schedule a hearing.
"You don't know what those people were saying in the meeting," Castroneves told an Indianapolis television station before entering Monday night's victory celebration in downtown Indianapolis. "We followed the rules. The reason that he passed me is because I backed off when the yellow came out. To pass me on the outside of Turn 3, that's not easy to do, even if you are Paul Tracy."
Barnhart said Monday afternoon his ruling was based on several factors. However, Barnhart said it was "indisputable" that Castroneves led Tracy at the last time the track's computerized scoring system recorded the positions.
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