Barfield defends red flag at Fontana
Beaux Barfield defended a controversial decision to red-flag Saturday's season finale with eight laps remaining, a move that prevented the MAVTV 500 from ending under caution and forced Ryan Hunter-Reay to race for his Izod IndyCar Series championship.
Beaux Barfield just completed his first season as IndyCar's race director and defended his actions from Saturday night.
"It goes without saying that anyone can question any call I make," Barfield wrote on Facebook. "But VERY FEW are actually qualified to ever make the call themselves. Last night's race could not have been better officiated. I am so proud of that race, the team around me and what we have accomplished this year."
Barfield, IndyCar's race director, has stated previously that using a red flag -- normally used to stop a race after a catastrophic crash -- could be an option in a late-race situation to prevent a yellow-flag finish. When Tony Kanaan crashed late in the MAVTV 500, Barfield chose discretion over a dull end to Hunter-Reay's championship.
Hunter-Reay needed to finish fifth or better to win the championship. When the red flew, he was third. After the restart, Hunter-Reay fell back to fourth, then battled Takuma Sato for that position until Sato crashed on the final lap and gave Hunter-Reay the championship by just three points over Will Power, who crashed earlier in the race and finished 24th.
"I had to sit there and think about it some more while we had a good rhythm going," said Hunter-Reay, whose crew was concerned that his car was overheating at the time.
The call also caught others by surprise, including race winner Ed Carpenter, who was second behind Dario Franchitti when the red was shown but won the race with a pass on the final lap. "I guess that's a new procedure at IndyCar that none of us had heard about," Carpenter joked. "But it worked out for me tonight, so I'll take it."
Barfield's boss, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, defended the call.
"When you see those fans sitting in the stands at 104 degrees and you see them passionately into it and spending their hard-earned money, do you think they want to see a race end under caution?" Bernard said. "From a fan's standpoint, you couldn't have asked for a more dramatic finish." USA Today