Juan Pablo Montoya thought Sage Karam had spun out on purpose during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200. So, too, did a number of Verizon IndyCar Series fans. Unsurprisingly, Race Control disagreed.
The league issued its weekly post-race infractions report on Wednesday, and Karam’s name was not on it. The biggest infraction was Dale Coyne Racing’s Rodolfo Gonzalez being fined for a visor miscue. There was not even a mention of the solo spin that prompted a caution and that led NBCSN commentator – and fellow IndyCar driver – Townsend Bell to call it “a little suspicious.”
That probably won’t sit well with Montoya, but it’s not a surprising decision from a Race Control team that’s shown a relative unwillingness to discipline Karam all season. Though the Chip Ganassi Racing rookie has been on probation since the Dual in Detroit, no action was taken against him for his on-track driving or off-track confrontation with Ed Carpenter at Iowa, nor his apparent block of Graham Rahal during Mid-Ohio qualifying.
Karam told the media in a post-Iowa conference call that Race Control informed him that he’d done nothing wrong. and suggested pre-race at Mid-Ohio that he considered criticism “picking on the rookie.”
Saying that a driver crashed on purpose is a serious accusation, and it may be that IndyCar officials didn’t feel they could conclusively prove that Karam had intentionally spun his car. Whatever the reasoning behind Wednesday’s decision, fans – and maybe even some drivers – might take issue with the fact that the rookie continues to cause controversy without real consequences.
Speaking of rookies, 2014 rookie Mikhail Aleshin – who did not return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports this season after a massive crash in practice for the Fontana season finale – is headed back to IndyCar. Aleshin, who has been racing in Europe, will test with SPM on August 13 in hopes of racing a third car in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on August 30.
He’ll be joined there by a number of Indy Lights drivers, who will be using the same day to get valuable seat time alongside their senior series counterparts. The seven junior class competitors participating in the cross-series test were also announced on Wednesday, including sportscar veterans Matthew Brabham (working with Marco Andretti for Andretti Autosport) and Sean Rayhall (alongside Scott Dixon for Ganassi), and Global Rallycross driver Nelson Piquet Jr. (testing with Will Power for Team Penske).
Ryan Phinny will test with Sebastien Bourdais for KVSH Racing, while Ed Jones will partner with Graham Rahal for Rahal Letterman Lanigan, Jack Harvey will join Ryan Briscoe for Schmidt Peterson, and Spencer Pigot will partner with Montoya for Penske. As teams wrap up their business for 2015 and look ahead to the future, the race weekend at Sonoma is sure to be one of the most exciting of the season.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.