Sunday I found myself working as a pit road spotter for Jake Query of IMS Radio. This was my first time ever doing this, what a wild race to start out. What seemed like another dull Dario run away, all went out the window on lap 118. On the TV broadcast Sato took full blame for the crash. However on pit road it seemed like the 10 also came down a little to initiate contact.
“What the hell just happened?” was all Dario said on the radio after. Chip Ganassi informed him, “He just hit you.”
From there, Dario took a long time to take his helmet off. Finally when he did, he looked a bit red in the face. He was very slow and some what depressed looking. He was a sad sight and a drag.
I spent the whole day following Jake Query up and down the pits. I listened to the teams’ communications and passed the remarks on to Jake.
As Dario walked down the pits being interviewed by Jake, I was originally trying to walk off camera but the equipment made it hard to walk in front. So I had to drop to the rear and ended up live on ABC. Thank you everyone for the tweets and texts. One person who is not even a sports fan spotted me. I wonder what the overnight was right then. (Hope everyone loved my St. Patrick’s Day Phillies tee).
From the point I appeared on camera began the party of insanity. Shortly thereafter, Alex Tagliani came into his pits on fire. He was on our end of pit road, and had us all dashing to cover it. Luckily Alex was fine and no one was hurt. There is no more of a scary feeling than a fire in person. Of the hundreds of races I have attended, it was only the second fire that has occurred. (By far the closest I have been around as well.)
Then the final nail in Barnhart’s coffin went down. The “last” yellow for rain caused my notepad to nearly combust. First was all the chatter about the rain and running around under yellow in it. Then came the comments between Ryan Hunter-Reay and his team over the attempt to re-start.
Here are a few gems:
When told they complained to officials to tell race control there was no way they could start, “Punch Brian Barnhart in the face if you need to!” (Ryan Hunter-Reay to his team)
“I’ve been racing these cars for 6 years and that was the dumbest thing race control has ever done!” –RHR following the failed re-start.
“You’ve got to be f**king kidding me!!!” – a member of Sato’s team after the race was called.
Micheal Andretti came flying down pit road into RHR’s pit when word was one lap until a restart in the rain. It is hard to give an accurate quote, but just imagine every obscenity screamed where I could hear it 10 feet away over the sound of cars.
The feeling when the race ended, was of a riot about to erupt. Jumping over the wall felt a bit like the eruption of fans into the ring at the end of every Rocky film. (Except V where a street brawl was the final fight).
Will Power might have become the new Clubber Lane. He just pounded on Brian Barnhart with his cutting comments to ABC. I have to say, Will is 100% right and 0% wrong! Even in his comments to ABC, Michael Andretti turned on Barnhart. There can not possibly be a team owner, driver, strategist, engineer, or even beer vendor left who supports this guy. For those not burned by his call to re-start in the rain when everyone was yelling it’s raining, they got burned by his “correction”.
When I got home 7 hours after leaving New Hampshire, Will Power’s “Philly salute” was all over the racing communities on-line. I honestly think what we get from Will that is most important, a top driver who will speak his mind when needed. He seems to be a bit tired of the horrific calls of Barnhart now that it has bit him, yet again.
On the local NBC affiliate’s 5PM news was a clip of Will giving the “Philly salute”. The station in Wilkes-Barre, PA never covers INDYCAR, but they covered this. It was like the 1979 Daytona 500 fight, the actions of a few angry people, drew more eyes.
You know what else will draw more interest in this series? A season with an all new race control. No one should be held over from this group. As much as I liked Al Unser Jr. when I was a kid, he is not stepping up and speaking for the drivers to his boss. He is a great driving coach for newcomers, he is a great ambassador for the series, but he is awful at speaking up to Barnhardt.
We didn’t need Trump driving the pace car at Indy, we just need his catch phrase from Randy Bernard toward. Barnhart “YOU’RE FIRED!”