Randy’s First Real Hiccup
Next Tuesday will mark eleven months that Randy Bernard has been on the job as CEO of INDYCAR (my first time to put the non-acronym in all-caps). In that time he has made incredible strides in bring the IZOD IndyCar Series to a level we only dreamed about just a year ago. For what he has done in his time on the job, I would give him an A+. He has far exceeded my wildest expectations.
None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. That goes for Randy Bernard, as well. Aside from the atrocious series championship trophy, Randy has had very few hiccups. He’s had one recently, though.
When he announced the double-file re-starts at the State of IndyCar Address a couple of weeks ago, many fans and drivers were grumbling. As I said in a post last week, I wasn’t really concerned over it. One thing that concerned drivers was the fact that the lapped cars would still maintain their position on the track. A top driver was likely to find a rookie or sub-par driver in the same row next to them. Well, Randy Bernard responded with following the NASCAR model and moving all of the lapped cars to the back of the field.
This really got the fans stirred up – and for good reason. If a driver goes down a lap by pitting just before a yellow comes out, they’re screwed. If the same driver works his or her way back towards the front and another caution comes out, they go back to the end of the line. Of course, this opens the door for the potential of NASCAR’s worst invention – the Lucky Dog. Almost universally, no IndyCar fan wants to see that ridiculous rule adopted from NASCAR.
To make matters worse, it appears that when the double-file restarts were first presented to the owners back in November – they voted to adopt the entire NASCAR model on re-starts. Does that mean the Lucky Dog too? God, I hope not.
Based on what I’ve heard, which is the same thing that you’ve heard; it seems that Randy Bernard bungled this one. It sounds like he got the owners to buy into one plan, then somewhere along the way the plan changed by the State of IndyCar meeting a couple of weeks ago. As soon as it was announced to go into effect at the first oval (the Indianapolis 500), Brian Barnhart immediately started backtracking and started talking about starting it at Texas instead. Last Thursday, Robin Miller posted a story saying they have decided to adopt the full NASCAR model of shuffling lapped traffic to the back. It was also brought out that they may decide to use double-file re-starts on non-ovals, as well.
One certainly gets the impression that this thing was not thought through at all. Brian Barnhart is fond of the phrase “unintended consequences”. Well, it doesn’t sound like anyone at 16th & Georgetown thought about any of the unintended consequences of this rule change.
I was OK with double-file re-starts when it was first announced. I wasn’t crazy about it, but it didn’t really matter to me one way or the other. But when they started changing the rules on the fly, it reeked of some of the poor decision-making process of the previous regime.
This was so unlike any other Randy Bernard tactic, that I would be surprised if he is the one making these calls. Since his expertise seems to lie in the marketing and promotion of the series, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had deferred to the head of competition on this one. That would be Mr. Brian Barnhart – President of Competition for the series. That would explain the quirkiness and indecision that we have seen these past two weeks on this issue. These were the same type moves that plagued the old “IRL” for years. Suddenly, one of them is rearing its ugly head again.
Whatever they do; they need to decide something, come up with a plan and stick to it. If the drivers are so unhappy with this plan, why weren’t they consulted before? If they were, why do they seem so shocked? To me, this whole thing seems like one massive lack of communication between parties, which to this point, has not been a trademark of the Randy Bernard regime.
If this fumbling about has been the work of Brian Barnhart, then Randy Bernard should take whatever measures possible to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If this was Mr. Bernard’s doings, I’m hoping this is just an aberration and not a sign of things to come. In the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, because Randy Bernard is the one who is ultimately in charge. He’s allowed a hiccup now and then after all the good work he has done. Let’s just hope that this one miscue is just that. We all make mistakes.