For the first time in 13 years the IZOD IndyCar Series raced around New Hampshire Motor Speedway putting on a great show for the estimated 30,000 fans in attendance.
Yesterday’s MoveThatBlock.com INDY 225 was marred by weather, wrecks and an ending that will be talked about for weeks to come.
On lap 217, a late-race restart caused Danica Patrick to spin as she crossed the Granite Stripe, collecting most of the top-10 cars. The crash happened after a caution flag for moisture on the tracks surface.
INDYCAR race officials later admitted they made the wrong decision when the race was restarted.
“This was obviously a challenging day for us from the get go,” said Brian Barnhart, the president of competition and racing operations for INDYCAR. “I don't think people really understand how little water it takes or how little moisture it takes to affect how these cars perform. These turn out to be some of the more difficult calls you ever have to make, which leads to indecisiveness.”
Barnhart stressed that the well being of the competitors should always come first. “The number one priority is safety. They are counting on you to make the right decision. Toward the end of the race with the restart, we made the wrong one. Obviously you want to make the effort for the fans, but you can't do it at the expense of the drivers.”
While the late-race call angered most of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, the fans saw exactly what they came to see, close wheel-to-wheel action at 170 mph.
“The fans on this property had a good time. People thanked me, which made me feel good,” said Jerry Gappens, NHMS executive vice president and general manager. “I appreciate the fact Brian (Barnhart) tried to get this race finish under green flag. I think it is a real man to walk in and say ‘I made a mistake.’ I am a big fan of being aggressive in our sport.”
“To criticize Brian to make a decision that put on a great show for people, who paid a lot of money to come and see this race from many different places is wrong,” Gappens added. “I think NASCAR saw this when they came up with green- white-checked. Fans deserve that because they pay to see it. I like it. I like pure emotion and I like the ‘boys have at it’.”
The season of speed continues at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when NASCAR returns for the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sept. 22-25. Tickets for the SYLVANIA 300 can be purchased by calling “The Magic Mile” ticket hotline at (603) 783-4931 or by visiting www.nhms.com.