MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – Carlos Huertas’ first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series victory in last Saturday’s Grand Prix of Houston Race 1 has been tarnished, to a degree, after INDYCAR officials discovered his fuel tank was one-tenth of a gallon over capacity and the rear-wing height did not meet technical requirements.
Huertas and Dale Coyne Racing will keep the victory but the team has been fined a total of $10,000 — $5,000 for each infraction.
The penalties were announced Wednesday from the INDYCAR offices in Indianapolis.
Huertas completed the final 39-laps on the 10-turn, 1.683-mile temporary street course on his final tank of fuel but INDYCAR did not deem the extra capacity changed the outcome of the race.
“His fuel tank was over by a tenth-of-a-gallon and, in any of our calculations, we did not see where he had used up all of his fuel and that tenth-of-a gallon kept him in the race,” said INDYCAR President of Competition Derrick Walker. “We did not see by the numbers where that was enough to get him any more than a standard penalty.”
Walker explained how the fuel cells are different on each car.
“The fuel cells by nature are not all made the same, believe it or not,” Walker continued. “They have a lot of variation. Some cars have bigger fuel cells than others and the teams have to adjust that capacity to make sure they are right. The team maintains when they had the fuel capacity checked earlier in the race weekend they measured O.K. and they were under. After the race, when we measured it, they were a tenth over.
“Like I said to them, we don’t have anything to do with your fuel capacity. All we require them to be is when we measure that sucker it has to be within that capacity. How it got bigger we don’t know and we don’t care whether somebody is fiddling something or whether it was the heat. Once a fuel cell is settled in and installed usually they stay the same. What we care about is if the capacity is over.”
Walker said the penalty would have been much more severe if INDYCAR believed the capacity wasn’t within the tolerance of error. He also stressed that INDYCAR can even take victories away from the apparent race winner depending on the nature of the infraction.
“It would have to be a pretty egregious act for us to take away the race finish but if somebody was viewed to have taken liberties with the rules and got to keep the win they would probably be disgraced in every other respect,” Walker said. “The deterrent for cheating, even if it means you might keep the win, we might take everything away from you, your first-born included.
“It doesn’t rule out the possibility we take the win away from you before the fans left the park. We reserve the right to do that.”
Walker and INDYCAR Race Control were involved in controversy throughout last weekend’s Houston doubleheader, mostly for its command to Marco Andretti to move over so race leader Takuma Sato could pass although both cars were on the lead lap. Walker continues to stand by that decision.
The Verizon IndyCar Series continues this weekend at Pocono International Raceway for Sunday’s Pocono INDYCAR 500 Fueled by Sunoco – the second race of IndyCar’s “Triple Crown.”