Rain eventually forced an early end to the IndyCar Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, but not early enough in the view of several drivers, team owners, fans and members of the media. One observer, Speed analyst Robin Miller, has frequently been harshly critical of decision making in the series.
A partial transcript from a short Q&A session after Sunday's race:
Q. What about the decision to restart 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.”
Q. What about Will Power’s display of an obscene gesture toward officials after wrecking?
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.”
Q.On some of Barnhart’s other decisions?
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.”
Q. 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.”