Miller sounds off on Brian Barnhart While rain forced the postponement of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race today at Watkins Glen International, rain eventually forced an early end to the IndyCar Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway … but not before all hell broke loose.
After a yellow-flag period due to rain, IndyCar Series officials waved the green flag with nine laps remaining. However, wet conditions triggered a large accident, as well as a flurry of emotions and criticism of Brian Barnhart, IndyCar Series president of competition and racing operations.
Robin Miller, longtime SPEED open wheel reporter/analyst, has never been one to shy away from offering his opinion. Below is a Q&A with Miller regarding his reaction to the events that unfolded in New Hampshire:
On the decision to restart the IndyCar Series race with 10 laps remaining:
Miller: “We’d been running under the yellow because it obviously was raining pretty hard, and when they announced they were going back to green, my producers and I started laughing and said, ‘Really? Let’s go watch the big screen for this crash because it’s going to be a big one.’ You’ve got slick tires and it was raining harder when they restarted the race than when they’d thrown the caution a few laps earlier. I haven’t heard what Brian Barnhart (IndyCar Series president of competition and racing operations) said yet, although I’ve heard he originally said he had no communication with the drivers. But the drivers were going crazy, telling everybody - the spotters and team managers - that it was raining too hard. But Barnhart hears everything – he’s always monitoring everyone. In the long list of things Barnhart has done that have been inconsistent and lacked common sense, I think he topped himself on this one.”
Will Power gestures to IndyCar race control after the cars went green on a wet track and three cars crashed, including him.
On Will Power’s display of an obscene gesture toward officials after wrecking on the restart:
Miller: “He snapped. He totally lost it. That should be the indicator about how incensed and crazy he was that they restarted that race in the rain. In an emotional sport, you’re out there risking your life and you’re on slick tires in the rain and they tell you you’re going to restart the race. I think Power was entitled to everything he did. I imagine Randy Bernhard (CEO of IndyCar Series) will pay his fine because I imagine Randy is happy because Power flipping them off will be on every sports highlight across the country. It’s the best PR you can get. It’s auto racing. It’s a highly volatile and sadistic sport, and when you’re out there hanging your ass out, and some guy who has never driven a race car in his life decides to go green, you can’t believe it. It’s too bad Power couldn’t get to Barnhart because he probably would have choked him and given us even better video.”
On Barnhart’s questionable decisions throughout the years:
Miller: “When the race restarted at the cone, Ryan Hunter-Reay spun his tires and Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon both passed him. So, when it went yellow, Ryan actually was third in line and they reverted to the last lap and declared him the winner after they red-flagged the race. Scott Dixon so eloquently said this isn’t go-kart racing or USAC on dirt. We don’t revert to the last lap. We’ve never reverted. He said (Oriol) Servia should have won the race, I (Dixon) should have been second and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) should have been third if you go by what the rules usually are. But he (Dixon) said Ryan (Hunter-Reay) deserved to win the race because he had the best car. Dixon wanted to know what the hell was going on. How can the rules change like this? People like me have been calling for Barnhart’s head for years because I don’t think he knows anything about racing and plays favorites. He’s never driven a race car and I don’t think he makes good decisions about racing. On top of this, look back at the 2002 Indy 500 finish. This clearly illustrates why there has been such an outcry to get rid of him this year from the owners and drivers. The drivers don’t respect him and the owners don’t trust him and I think Randy Bernhard has to make a pretty tough decision but it’s not a tough decision from most people’s standpoint – just get a new chief steward.”
On his overall thoughts on the race:
Miller: “NASCAR doesn’t race in the rain because they don’t have rain tires on a road course, yet Indy cars race on slicks on an oval in the rain. I don’t think there’s a question of who wins the battle of the balls this weekend – it’s IndyCar. And if people didn’t enjoy that race, I give up. It had everything. It had guys upside down, guys crashing the points leader on the restart, guys giving the double bird to the chief steward. It had everything everyone wants.”
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