4/30/2009

Sean Guthrie Ousted Indefinitely

The Indy Racing League decided to suspend Indy Lights driver Sean Guthrie along with his father Jim Guthrie; who is also the co-owner of Guthrie-Meyer Racing indefinitely following an incident at Kansas Speedway last weekend. The IndyCar.com staff released the following information.

Sean Guthrie, driver of the No. 4 Guthrie Meyer Racing Firestone Indy Lights entry, was penalized for failing to follow the direction of Officials, failing to slow down under yellow conditions and failing to follow the direction of safety personnel in an accident scene.

His actions were in violation of multiple rules regarding safety of participants and caution periods as listed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book.

Jim Guthrie was penalized for failing to follow the direction of Officials and for conduct detrimental to the sport.

The penalized parties may appeal their penalty as prescribed in the Firestone Indy Lights Rule Book. An appeal may result in an increase, decrease or no change to the penalty. -www.indycar.com

It was fairly obvious that Sean Guthrie was quite upset after receiving the black flag in Kansas, when he stated "Another Dumb Decision by the IRL". Since that time, he has offered up an official statement.
“I am very disappointed with the league’s decision to disqualify us for the remainder of the race. I came around the corner and had trouble getting the car to slow down due to the cold tires. I put the car in the safest place possible, and immediately gave the spot back after I passed the car in front of me under yellow. It was an unfortunate series of events but defiantly a learning experience that can be built upon in the future.” -Sean Guthrie
Butch Meyer who is the co-owner of Guthrie Meyer Racing offered his own release on the incident.
“I deeply regret the actions taken by my business partner and driver this past weekend at the Kansas race event. I understand the necessity and severity of the penalties levied by the Indy Racing League. Guthrie Meyer Racing will continue and adhere to the IRL’s standards of conduct and sportsmanship. I have the utmost respect for the league and agree with the IRL leadership that the safety of the drivers, crews, officials, safety personnel, and all others involved at the track is paramount.” - Butch Meyer, co-owner of GMR
I have a few thoughts of my own on the situation. First and foremost, the Delphi safety team is out there risking their lives to keep these drivers safe. They do an excellent job, which was prominently displayed last weekend in Kansas, during the Kansas Lottery 100--where we saw 5 caution flags for 33 laps of the race. The concern for safety offered by the Delphi crew, should be reciprocated by the drivers. According to inside sources, Sean sped through the Pablo Donoso crash scene in an effort to catch the field under yellow. It was also reported that he locked up his brakes, just missing a Delphi safety truck as he entered the scene. This is unacceptable, which is probably a large part of the reasoning behind the Indy Racing League's decision to suspend Sean. I'm not sure what happened between IRL officials and Jim Guthrie, but I'm sure we can guess. Racing dads never like to see their son disqualified. Which leads me into my second thought...

When I first read about the suspension, I couldn't help but ask if the incident was perhaps blown out of proportion by the IRL-- after Sean (in the heat of the moment) publicly criticized their decisions. Since neither Jim or Sean Guthrie had been previously suspended by the IRL, an indefinite suspension seemed a little extreme to me. One would assume that a multi-race suspension would have offered sufficient punishment for Sean's on-track actions. I just hope the decision to ban Sean wasn't based on the actions of Jim Guthrie that were deemed "detrimental to the sport".

I'm sure we will hear more about this situation in the coming weeks, as an appeal is highly expected.

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2 comments:

The SpeedGeek said...

Woo-hoo! Somebody’s reading me!

To elaborate on the Guthrie situation, as I saw it from the grandstand in a section just past start/finish (I left stuff out of my post, for brevity’s sake, though I did directly watch the entire thing happen): if memory serves 100%, Sean spun trying to avoid the Pablo Donoso wreck (though he might have been more involved with it, I wasn’t looking right at the accident when it happened), and so flatspotted his tires. He came in under the yellow and changed tires, and when he came out of the pits, the field was entering turn 3. He got on it, and sped up to probably double of the pace car’s speed in order to catch up to the field. Who knows why he did this, since the clean-up crew was still splayed all over the track, and Donoso’s car was still in a pile down near the apron. We weren’t going back to racing any time soon. Once Sean reached turn 3, the back of the pack was still in the middle of turn 4, right about where the wreck was. Sean started to slow down, only very slightly (probably due to cold brakes/cold tires, but also clearly due to misjudgement), and it was clear that he was still going far too fast when he got even with the clean up crew. He had to cut underneath (I think) Gustavo Yacaman, who was the last driver in line, and as a result, he wound up down on the apron. Next, he had to abruptly cut up the track, right in front of Yacaman, as one of the Honda Ridgeline safety vehicles was in his way on the apron. He must have missed Yacaman by no more than a couple of feet and the safety truck by some very small distance. From my angle and distance, it’s hard to say exactly how big this gap to the truck was, but I’d certainly put it under a yard, and it could have been as little as a foot or less. The next lap by, they gave Sean the black flag, whereupon he entered the pits, mouthed off at the decision by the IRL on the PA system, and then his dad attempted to take the blame for the incident, also on the PA. Again, why this whole thing would be Jim’s fault, I don’t know; it was Sean who was driving the car.

That’s it. The “consensus” that I wrote about in my post was a group of six or so people near me, two of whom had scanners, so they were well aware of what happened as well (therefore, I take their opinions as fairly “informed”). I haven’t seen a whole lot of people writing about the incident on any of the sites I frequent, so I’m happy to be a source of info on it. Thanks for reading me, and keep up your great work here.

Pat W (TooMuchRacing) said...

What series has Sean Guthrie raced in before? This is the sort of thing that gets you a very stern talking to from the Clerk of the Course in FFord. i.e. shouted at for endangering people..

Lights isn't a base-level junior series and he should know better by now.