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Racing Officials Uphold Castroneves Win

Indy Racing League officials upheld Helio Castroneves' victory in the Indianapolis 500 on Monday, rejecting a protest lodged by runner-up Paul Tracy.

After a two-hour hearing at IRL offices and two hours of deliberations, league vice president of operations Brian Barnhart said there was no conclusive proof that Tracy had pulled ahead of Castroneves by the time the yellow flag came out on the 199th lap of Sunday's race.

"Team Green did not present anything that was conclusive enough in any way, shape or form to change our mind," Barnhart said.

Laurent Redon and Buddy Lazier crashed in Turn 2 to bring out the yellow. In IRL, racing ceases the moment the caution is waved.

Tracy passed Castroneves in Turn 3, but the dispute was over the precise moment the caution went into effect. Tracy claimed he was ahead when he first learned of the yellow; Castroneves said he let up on the throttle when he saw yellow, which allowed Tracy to pass.

On Sunday, race officials declared Castroneves was in the lead, and he drove the final 3-plus miles under a yellow flag to win his second straight Indy 500.

A review lasting 5 hours, 40 minutes ensued, and Barnhart ruled that several videotape replays, information from other drivers and data-collection systems in the cars were inconclusive, not enough to overturn the race.

It was a debate over what happened in the blink of an eye, and it might not end with this hearing. Tracy and team owner Barry Green have five days to appeal the result of the protest, which would put the final decision in the hands of IRL chief executive officer Tony George.

Officials from Team Green were not immediately available for comment.

IRL rules call for a hearing to be held within 30 days of the filing of the appeal, unless the appellant and George agree to a delay. In 1981, it took 4½ months for Bobby Unser to be declared the official winner in a disputed finish against Mario Andretti.

Written by Paul Newberry

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