|Major gaffes: Barnhardt had a hand in absurd non-penalties to drivers at Toronto; giving the green-light to racing on a wet oval at New Hampshire, and starting the Baltimore race with safety crews still on the circuit. His sacking will be welcomed by many…|
Embattled Indycar President of Race Operations Brian Barnhart has been shown the door from his race control duties effective immediately.
After numerous controversial decisions and inconsistent rulings in applying on-track penalties, CEO Randy Bernard has finally yielded to growing pressure from drivers, who had repeatedly said they had lost confidence in Barnhart.
Barnhardt will be repositioned at President of Operations but will no longer have anything to do with officiating or race management.
Most notably in the 2011 season, Barnhart was heavily criticised by Will Power at Toronto for failing to give championship arch-rival Dario Franchitti a penalty after Power believed he had been taken out of the race following an overambitious passing move by Franchitti on the exit of Turn 3.
Further criticism came at Loudon, when towards the end of the race, Barnhart restarted the event when drivers were complaining it was too wet to continue. The resulting multi-car accident at the green flag will most notably be remembered by Will Power’s “two-fingered salute” to Race Control following the event, which resulted in a fine. At the time, Power frustratingly said at the time “This has got to be it. They cannot have this guy running the show. He makes such bad calls all the time.”
Barnhart earned the ire of Oriol Servia at Baltimore, when the decision was made to restart the race following a caution period when safety vehicles were still on the circuit and only just made it out of the way before the pack came charging through at speed.
In further changes, Terry Angstadt, IndyCar’s president of the commercial division is set to be replaced with Mark Koretsky, who acted as director of business development in 2011 and who was responsible for a series of promotional events during the Las Vegas World Championships weekend, such as a parade of IndyCars down the strip as well as multiple charity fundraisers and other parties.
Barnhardt and Angstadt are the last high-ranking officials from the Tony George run Indy Racing League days prior to the reunification with Champ Car in 2008.
Possible candidates to replace Barnhardt in race control include former CART race-winner Scott Pruett and American Le Mans chief steward Beaux Barfield.
[Article text by Matt Lennon; images via Adelaide Now, Courier Mail, LAT]
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