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Auto racing; Controversy engulfs Indy

Much ado has been made over the controversial finish to Sunday's Indianapolis 500. At this writing, there has been no response to Bobby Unser's planned appeal, in which he will ask the US Auto Club to overturn Indy's decision to strip him of victory and award it to Mario Andretti a day after the race.

Unser's ouster came after videotapes and race observers confirmed reports that he had illegally passed cars during a caution period. His claim that other drivers, including Andretti, were as guilty as he hardly merits sympathy for the two-time champion. And considering the number of cars he passed coming out of the pits, his argument that there are no set rules governing this situation may not hold much water.

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Maybe the most cogent point Unser makes regards the poor timing of his one-lap penalty. "If I had a penalty coming, I would assume that they would have given it to me then [on the 149th lap]," he said. "It isn't right to look at the tapes and base a decision on that afterward." He reasons that the outcome of a basketball game wouldn't be changed because of a missed call in the second quarter. Maybe not if only a relatively insignificant violation were overlooked , but in this case, alleged cheating was involved, and that is something else again.

If assessed the lap penalty at the time of his violation, Unser may have been able to overtake Andretti and win anyhow. That certainly complicates the issue and makes one wonder if stiffer penalties are in order for cheating, including disqualification, no matter when it's det ected.

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