Making a safe pass
It’s been a couple of weeks, the Indy cars are decamped at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and yet I’m still bothered by the officiating that occurred at Toronto’s doubleheader.
Although I am but an observer – yet not a casual one – I’ve been in a racecar in anger and I’ve competed at various levels of the sport. In any instance where I’ve been on a track, in the driver’s meetings beforehand there’s always been a single mantra stated that made sense: it is the responsibility of an overtaking driver to make a safe pass.
In the first Toronto INDYCAR race, Will Power did not do that. He blustered across the inside of the track trying to gain position on his perennial rival, Dario Franchitti. The pass was unsuccessful; he ended up in the Turn 3 tires and the people in Race Control, led by former race director Brian Barnhart, called Franchitti on the carpet and stripped him of his third-place result.
Barnhart is already well known for taking sides in such disputes, favoring former employer Penske Racing (with the exception of New Hampshire 2011, where he put the onus on everyone in the paddock by calling for a restart under damp conditions) and making imaginary lines in the racetracks. And who can forgive, “Give me four good ones” at Indianapolis?
After seeing added video displays and telemetry, wiser heads prevailed at Toronto and Franchitti was restored to P3 in race No. 1.
But even before this transgression, the great minds at Race Control decided to forego a standing start when one car, that of Josef Newgarden, couldn’t make the call. It takes a hell of a lot more than that for F1 to abort and since this was a first try for INDYCAR at Toronto, perhaps they could have given it one more try? Maybe they were thinking about other things at the time – and we all know the drivers were bitching, as they are wont to do – and wanted to appease everyone.
That is not what a sanctioning body does, folks. You make the rules, you stand by them and you tell the players to play by those rules. A second try at a standing start in the first race was something INDYCAR should have done. It’s also something they didn’t do, instead giving the second-day attendees a treat they hadn’t bargained for while trying to appease fans who were less than happy with the first day’s results.
Well, bah humbug to you!
Although I’m not in lovely Lexington, Ohio for this weekend’s race on the fabulous MId-Ohio Sports Car Course, I’ll be watching carefully from Los Angeles, where I’m working Global RallyCross at Irwindale Events Center. That is part of the final X Games Los Angeles, before it moves to Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas next year.
I’m hoping that, with the return of Beaux Barfield to Race Control, we can start talking again about what’s going on with regard to competition and not so much about Race Control. Since Beaux’s come onboard, INDYCAR has centered on trackside activity. It ought to stay that way.
By Anne Proffit