NASCAR

$30K fine for gesture surprises IndyCar's Saavedra

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)

Sebastian Saavedra was prepared to accept the penalty he knew was coming from IndyCar after he directed an obscene gesture toward Marco Andretti.

Then Saavedra found out it was going to be a $30,000 fine for flashing both of his middle fingers, an act that was caught on live television.

''When I heard the amount, I was very, very, very mad at the series,'' he said Friday.

Saavedra, angry after at Andretti after the two made contact in Saturday's race, wasn't the only driver penalized by IndyCar for incidents during the series' doubleheader in Detroit last weekend.

Will Power was placed on probation for the rest of the season for throwing his gloves at Sebastien Bourdais following an accident during Sunday's race. Bourdais was placed on probation for comments made toward officials on pit road after the same accident.

''Ask race control,'' Bourdais said when asked about his penalties after qualifying for Saturday night's race in Texas. He then walked off.

All those penalties were against drivers who were showing their emotions and reacting to what had happened in the heat of a race.

Mario Andretti, the father of Michael and grandfather of Marco, believes such penalties can discourage guys from being themselves.

''It's a pet peeve of mine to have all of this policing,'' Mario Andretti said. ''These guys are not kindergarten kids. I mean, they're professionals, and they have emotions. All sports are full of emotions and I can see if it's out of hand. This is not out of hand. It's just displaying personality.''

Andretti believes it's good for the series to have drivers be able to express themselves without being penalized, like he was able to do when driving.

''If (A.J.) Foyt and I would have been fined for everything we ever said, we'd both be broke today,'' he said.

Texas Motor Speedway has a banner hanging in the infield this week with a picture of Saavedra's gesture last week and Power doing the same toward race officials at New Hampshire in 2011. Their middle fingers are blurred out with words playing off the track's marketing theme, ''Warning: Wild Asphalt Circus can cause Angry Birds.''

Power, the polesitter for Saturday night's race, said he's not sure how to respond to the reaction by IndyCar.

''At the end of the day, got to get out of the car and not do anything. Just walk back to the pits, that's the best solution,'' he said. ''I think it is good to show emotion, but if you read Twitter, no one wants you to show emotion. ... So you may as well get out and be a computer and do your job.''

Helio Castroneves, Power's teammate at Team Penske, has no desire to see drivers throwing punches at each other. But he wants guys to be able to express their feelings.

''Sometimes you have the blood flowing, I have my share of that, and just let it go,'' Castroneves said. ''If a guy gets upset and throws a glove or something like that - it's a glove, it's not going to hurt anybody. ... You can't just start throwing fines just because the guy had a bad day.''

Saavedra has no plans to hide his personality, and the Colombian doesn't believe any drivers should have to do that.

''That is the way I've been for the last 23 years of my life, I'm not going to change now. Even what happened in Detroit doesn't mean that I'm going to be different,'' he said. ''I don't think any of the drivers out there want to change their personality. ... Maybe the series needs to change a little bit. Who knows?''

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