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Walker claims final word in IndyCar race control
Question of the Day
“We get into the race and the camera view wasn’t always facing there so we could see the cars,” Walker said. “Almost immediately, we realized we couldn’t even police it. So we sent a note saying, `Guys, knock yourself out on the curbs.’ But last night we decided we had to stop them from doing that. We tried the honor system and that didn’t work, so we put the tire (barriers) back out.
“Now it’s on them to stay off of them because if they run into the tires, they are going to bring out yellow.”
The issues came about on a weekend in which Barnhart returned to race control for the first time since the 2011 season finale. He was summoned for the role on no notice Thursday, Walker said, when current IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield couldn’t enter Canada because of an immigration issue.
Although the paddock supports Barnhart, he’s much maligned among fans who are critical of his officiating. Franchitti implored fans on Twitter on Saturday night to lay off Barnhart, arguing it was not an individual decision by Barnhart to issue the penalty.
“I think he was a little apprehensive to start with, not knowing how he’d be received,” Walker said. “He’s giving it his best. Nobody has all the answers and he’s got a lot more support now then he had back then. He was a lone wolf back then and he did his best then, but now he’s got a lot more support. There’s a different atmosphere about the place, it’s about working together and team spirit.”
Walker acknowledged that Barnhart and Barfield, who will return to race control at the next race, have different officiating styles and that Walker “is still trying to understand” Barfield’s style after Barnhart held the job from 1997 until 2011.
“Beaux has a lot of experience, he has a different style in dealing with it,” Walker said. “He does a lot of one-on-one in dealing with people, a lot of personal contact. So it’s just different styles and doing things in different ways. I’m not saying which one is better because I am the new guy on the block.”
But Walker said the series is not consistent enough for his liking.
“We need to be better, and better needs better tools and better procedures,” Walker said. “It’s not as simple as it looks. There’s a lot of work that goes into it and this is a lean, mean machine. We don’t have a ton of people doing these jobs. We have good employees. We just need more of them and a direction on where we are going.”
Among the other things Walker said is IndyCar decided to use a standing start in Sunday’s race because “we could hear the boos” from the crowd in race control when Saturday’s standing start was aborted. The series was only scheduled to try standing starts on Saturday.
“The fans told us they wanted it, so let’s do it again,” Walker said.
By Scott Pinsker
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