Barnhart has backing of IndyCar CEO Print
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Sunday, 28 August 2011 16:01
NASCAR Headline News

 SONOMA, Calif. (AP) - Brian Barnhart isn't popular in the pits these days following his controversial decision two weeks ago in New Hampshire. However, the IndyCar president of competition and operations does have the support of CEO Randy Bernard, who said he has no plans to make a change in his staff.
Barnhart came under fire after the crash-filled race at Loudon on Aug. 14. The race ended with about 10 laps to go following a multicar accident triggered by Danica Patrick, whose car slid sideways after rain fell steadily throughout the day. Because of the wet conditions, Barnhart chose to revert to the final order before the last restart to determine the winner.
That gave Patrick's Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay his first win of the season despite protests he had been passed by Scott Dixon and Spain's Oriol Servia before the final yellow. An appeals panel upheld the final results, though Barnhart admitted he made a mistake with his decision.
``We've admitted there was a problem last week, but to me it's not just been IndyCar where mistakes have been made,'' Bernard said before Sunday's race. ``What we have to do is continue to work forward. (Fans) want to see a clean race and they want to see us do our job.''
Several drivers expressed anger with Barnhart, and some have called for Bernard to make a change. So far, he's resisting.
``I won't disagree with that but the drivers, their job is to race and to do what they get paid to do,'' Bernard said.
PATRICK'S ROUGH DAY: Danica Patrick had a tough weekend all around in what was a farewell of sorts to Infineon Speedway.
Patrick qualified 25th and spent most of the day well back in the pack, finishing 21st. That dropped her 228 points behind leader Dario Franchitti.
``During the beginning of the race the car was incredibly loose which made it very uncomfortable,'' Patrick said. ``We came in for our second pit stop, changed the tires and took some front wing out, which really helped the car. (But) it's not the result that we wanted.''
While there's no guarantee the IndyCar series will return to the Sonoma course in 2012, Patrick's next appearance here will be in a stock car.
On Thursday, she announced her plans to leave the open-wheeled circuit and race in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series in NASCAR next year after racing in IndyCar for seven years.
As for Infineon Raceway, there are still no official plans yet to bring the IndyCar back next season. The series is adding a date at the California Speedway in Fontana - which also hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup races.
``I do believe it's going to be great for next year,'' said Helio Castroneves, who finished second behind Team Penske teammate Will Power. ``California is going to hold three races in one season, which is pretty good. It's a good way to come back.''
ON THE FLY: Simon Pagenaud didn't get much rest this weekend after arriving from Spain as an emergency replacement for Simona de Silvestro. The Frenchman had to get fitted into de Silvestro's car, took a few laps in practice Friday then finished 15th in Sunday's race after qualifying 22nd.
He also received a drive-through penalty on lap 71 after passing leader Will Power under caution.
De Silvestro was unable to drive because of visa problems in Switzerland.
Pagenaud, who was test driving a sports car for Peugot not far from Barcelona, Spain when the call came to replace de Silvestro, finished 13th early this season at Mid-Ohio. He was a fill-in driver there, too, after Justin Wilson was injured in an accident during practice.
PIT STOPS: Ho-Pin Tung placed 27th and became the first Chinese-born driver to start an IndyCar race, almost three months after his aborted debut at the Indianapolis 500. Tung, one on nine rookies in the race, qualified 27th. ... Tony Kanaan's day ended after only 38 laps due to a throttle issue. The veteran driver, who began the day fifth in points, finished in last and fell into sixth place. ... Giorgio Pantano received a blocking penalty on the last lap and was dropped from sixth place to 17th.


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