June 14, 2011
What was IndyCar boss thinking?
By DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - IZOD IndyCar boss Randy Bernard has admitted the drawing of lots to decide the starting line-up for the second of the Firestone Twin 275 races at Texas Motor Speedway may not have been such a good idea after all.
Drivers were invited on stage to pick a Firestone tire and then turn it around to discover where they would start in the second race.
First race winner Dario Franchitti, who picked a 28th starting spot, was angry that a points race that could very well decide a championship should be started in such a cavalier manner.
He was even more incensed when rival Will Power picked the third starting spot, giving him a huge advantage that he turned into a race win in the second heat.
Well on Tuesday Bernard as much as agreed with Franchitti in an IndyCar.com piece.
“We have to evaluate everything we do this year and make sure that we are providing the best competition, entertainment and value to give that great fan experience,” Bernard said. “It was a little bit gimmicky and I take the blame for it.”
He admitted the Texas fiasco damaged IndyCar’s credibility.
“I think it’s important to make sure we sustain credibility for that (IZOD IndyCar) World Championship,” he said. “I’m not convinced that what we did Saturday night does that.”
Franchitti said the whole thing was a mess from the very start.
“Had they inverted (the field) I would have started worse, but it would have been fair for everyone,’ he said. “I would have started last, Scott (Dixon) would have started second-last and Will (Power) would have started 28th. It would have been some performance parameter and that’s all I was asking for.”
Franchitti said the one good thing that came out of the disaster was that Bernard stepped up to take the blame.
“I really appreciate Randy taking ownership of the decision and the fact that it was the wrong decision and he’s not ducking the issue at all,” Franchitti said.
The Busch-Harvick feud: Round three
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series moves to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday and it looks like the Kyle Busch versus the Richard Childress Racing gang feud is moving to the Irish Hills as well.
With the end of NASCAR’s original four-race probation of Busch and RCR’s Kevin Harvick it could be that the two combatants will pick up where they left off at Darlington a month ago when Harvick tried to punch Busch on pit road and Busch pushed Harvick’s car into a wall.
At least that’s what Harvick was saying after Sunday’s race at Pocono where the pair rubbed fenders again at least once.
“He knows he’s got one coming,” Harvick said. “I just wanted him to think about it.”
And then two weeks ago RCR owner Richard Childress grabbed Busch in a headlock and punched him for bumping development driver Joey Coulter during a Camping World Truck race.
Kyle seems to want none of it.
“It’s not my fight,” Busch said. “He’s trying to turn it into one. I’m done, man. I’ve forgiven. I’ve moved on.”
The promoters of the race at MIS, of course, couldn’t be happier.
When Jeff Gordon won the Sprint Cup 5-Hour Energy 500 on Sunday at Pocono Raceway he said he was now “an old guy” among the stars of NASCAR.
I was taken aback as I have for the longest time considered Gordon as still the kid who brought the so-called “young guns” into stock car racing when he was winning championships with abandon a decade or so ago.
When he came to NASCAR from California in 1991, the Cup series was populated by the Dale Earnhardts, Rusty Wallaces, Darrell Waltrips and Dale Jarretts.
What they all had in common was that they were primarily from the southern U.S. states like the Carolinas, Kentucky, Missouri, Alabama and Virginia.
Gordon, by the sheer force of his talent, changed the face of NASCAR and he paved the way for a new generation of drivers like Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and yes, even Kyle and Kurt Busch.
And their commonality was that there wasn’t a southerner among them.
With each championship he won Gordon grew the sport in parts of the U.S. and Canada where there was no tradition of stock car racing.
Today tens of thousands of fans pack Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve — home of the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix — for the Nationwide Series and bring with them much the same enthusiasm for NASCAR drivers as they do for Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher of F1 fame.
And all of that can be directly attributed to what Gordon brought to NASCAR.
Let’s hope his 84th Sprint Cup win at Pocono on Sunday is far from his last.