Cindric on Barnhart: “We need somebody we know”


The news of Brian Barnhart’s being named as Verizon IndyCar Series race director as the permanent member of a three-person steward panel has not exactly been well received on social media (to put it mildly).

However, at least one person with an important take on race control proceedings has come to Barnhart’s defense — Team Penske president Tim Cindric.

Cindric told reporters at NASCAR’s Charlotte media tour, including NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan, that as “a known quantity,” Barnhart is a suitable replacement for Beaux Barfield (who became IMSA race director last September).

“No. 1, we need somebody we know,” Cindric said. “I think he’s someone who has been around the sport a long time.”

The three-person steward system was implemented for the 2014 season.  Cindric said because the teams know him, and because Barnhart knows the series, the hire should work.

“I guess I wouldn’t expect a whole lot different,” Cindric said. “We’ve been there and done that. He’s been there before. He’s a known quantity. Bringing someone else in that we didn’t know before was maybe a bigger question. Brian is someone we understand. You don’t have to get to know anybody. He’s the guy. I don’t see any other candidates out there that were any better.”

Cindric also said whoever stepped into the race director role was walking into the proverbial hornet’s nest, calling it “a thankless job … that puts you right in the thick of it.

“You can say that about anybody who has been a race series director in any sport,” Cindric said. “You’re going to have an opinion what’s fair and not fair. But I think all we want is consistency as teams, and I think he’ll provide that. Anyone who goes through that process is always going to look back and say, ‘Did I do this one the right way? Or not do it the right way?’ I’m no different in my shoes. I make mistakes every day, too.”

Cindric said he preferred a “dictator situation” for officiating auto racing, provided there is transparency about the reasons for the calls.

“You always want to know where the decisions are coming from and why,” he said The more transparent race control can be, and you see NASCAR making those steps. NASCAR’s transparency is becoming better every year. And the transparency with these 45 cameras (used in the pits this season) and all the rest of it, there’s less and less decisions that are made without facts behind them.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.