For numerous reasons, ovals are not conducive to racing in the rain, unlike road and street circuits.
Twice Sunday’s Movethatblock.com Indy 225 was interrupted for rainfall. Though a caution between laps 76 and 108 was lengthy (with red flagging the event a more popular option amongst fans), they handled the overall situation pretty well, even moving up the start time of the race to get as much of in as possible.
However, it all went wrong with nine laps remaining. Under caution again for rain, series officials, led by Brian Barnhart, made the call to go back to green, despite numerous and vigorous protests from the drivers. An inevitable pileup ensued, culminating in Will Power giving Race Control the “You’re No. 1” salute…with both hands.
To their credit, Race Control ruled that the finishing order would reflect how the field was set prior to that ill-fated restart attempt and Power apologized for his reaction. “First of all, I have to apologize for losing my temper after the accident that ended our race. Regardless of what happened on the race track, my behavior was inexcusable and I apologize to our sponsors, the fans, the IZOD IndyCar Series officials and the Penske Racing organization,” said Power.
“I should not have behaved the way I did and I am sorry. It's definitely no excuse but I was just very frustrated because our car ran so well and our team had worked so hard to put ourselves into a position to get a good finish and I thought it was just ridiculous to restart the race under the dangerous conditions that existed on the racetrack. I am just glad the officials decided to make the decision to revert the finishing order back to what it was before the final restart. I want to thank my team for their hard work today and, again, I'm sorry for the way our race ended and how I handled the situation.”
The victorious Ryan Hunter-Reay also said that the conditions were simply impossible to run in. “I couldn't even warm the tires it was so wet,” said Hunter-Reay. “I don't think the fans at home understand how wet it was. We have a very small contact patch and the Firestone contact patch is amazing but when there's some rain down, there's nothing there. I couldn't even put the power down in second or third. Wrong move on race control's part.”
Still, Power, Hunter-Reay, as well Michael Andretti, Jimmy Vasser, and other drivers and owners voiced their opinions, were well within their right to protest. It appeared that the series simply tried to get a desired green-flag and competitive finish. But, in doing so, they jeopardized their competitors, the ones who risk their own bodies and livelihoods race to race, to do so.
As much work as the series had to do make the fans happy, they may have exponentially more work on their hands to appease the drivers. Quite simply, based on the reactions from the teams, it appears they lost some of their faith in Race Control.
In the end, they did correct their error and put the cars back into the spots they held prior in the chaotic conclusion. But, it may not excuse their mistake and the carnage that ensued.