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.”