15 August 2011
Power blasts race director Barnhart
Will Power was incandescent over the decision of race director Brian Barnhart to restart Sunday's race despite a wet track, a call that led to a multi-car wreck and a red flag.
Will Power was livid with IndyCar race officials at the end of the MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, initially angrily calling on IZOD IndyCar Series race director Brian Barnhart to be fired.
The storm erupted after a controversial decision to go green ten laps from the end despite drizzle which had made the fast one-mile oval dangerously slick. The restart triggered a multi-car wreck which initially appeared to have caused disastrous harm to Power's championship campaign.
Power had been in fifth place when a caution came out for moisture on lap 206. The drivers all assumed that this would be the end of the race and that the final laps would be a parade behind the safety car, but instead were stunned to learn that race control were about to put out the green flag again despite no improvement (and possibly some worsening) of the conditions that had triggered the initial yellow.
Team bosses and drivers were quickly on the radio to remonstrate against the decision. "I was begging them, begging him, please do not go green, it's too slippery," said Power after he was caught up in a multi-car wreck caused by Danica Patrick spinning on the run down to the restart line. "So was everyone else. Everyone was saying it ... The track was in no condition to restart."
Team boss Michael Andretti was equally animated as he protested the decision, which threatened the position of his driver Ryan Hunter-Reay who was leading the race at the time. "This is the worst officiating I've ever seen," said Michael. "Sorry, Brian, but this was bad - really bad. We lost the car [Danica] and we lost the lead [Hunter-Reay]. I mean, this was just ... You don't do that - it was wetter than when they threw the yellow earlier, and they threw the green!" He added, "Normally Brian does a great job, but this time he really missed it."
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Power likewise laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of IndyCar competition director Barnhart and went even further in his scathing attack.
"He makes such bad calls all the time," Power fumed. "This has got to be it. They cannot have this guy running the show. That was a decision to put a lot of drivers in danger ... It was no condition to race in. Shame on him.
"I just can't believe that they make decisions like that,' He added. "I mean, what are those guys up there doing? Al Unser, he's raced, he would never race in these conditions. To me, it was disgraceful."
It's the kind of outburst against a series' integrity that can lead to serious repercussions - fines or even suspensions - and Power knew that he had gone way too far, especially after flipping off the race officials in the tower with two one-fingered salutes that were caught on live network TV.
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