Barnhart argues against 'orchestrated NASCAR' green flag finishes
Brian Barnhart's argument for not using a NASCAR-like overtime session to end Izod IndyCar Series races under green, if possible, played out in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 when Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay crashed as the leaders were starting their final lap.
Had Barnhart, as the race's chief steward, let the rest of the cars circulate Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the extensive cleanup played out, most of those low on fuel, including leader Dario Franchitti, likely would have been forced to relinquish their positions to pit or risk running out of fuel on the track.
"If the crash takes eight laps to clean up, that's (more than) 15 extra miles," Barnhart said at Texas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Izod IndyCar Series race. "That's moving the goal posts.
"It's no longer the Indy 500; it's the Indy 515."
Barnhart said no one wants to see the race end under green more than he does, and he's frustrated that five of the past nine 500s have finished with a caution, including both of Franchitti's wins. But when the race distance has been announced, teams plan for it.
"You have to balance the integrity of the event while trying to put on the best show possible," he said.
Barnhart addressed several other issues in the days since the 500, including the decision not to penalize Franchitti and others for driving their cars slowly in the final few laps to conserve fuel. Franchitti was about 25 mph off his regular pace.
The black-flag order to get off the track is usually given by race officials.
"But you traditionally use the leader's pace as a yardstick for being out there," Barnhart said. "In this case, the leader's pace was the slow pace. It was an unusual circumstance." Indy Star