Hunter-Reay Wins but Is This the End of Brian Barnhardt?

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIAugust 15, 2011

LOUDON, NH - AUGUST 14:  Ryan Hunter-Reay driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda celebrates his win during the IZOD IndyCar Series MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on August 14, 2011 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay collected his third career Izod IndyCar Series win in the rain-shortened Move That Block 225.  It was Hunter-Reay's first win on an oval in the series as well.  His only other oval win was in his Champ Car days at Milwaukee.

The race was called with five laps to go.

It was a wild and crazy finish that I've never seen.  Chief steward Brian Barnhart should lose his job after a horrible decision to let them return to green.  Literally every driver said they can't go green, the track is too slick.

Rain began to fall hard enough to force a caution with 19 laps to go.  An ill-advised call to go to green with nine laps to go caused a huge mishap on the restart among most of the leaders.  Danica Patrick, running sixth at the time, lost control off of turn four and collected Takuma Sato, Will Power and Ed Carpenter.  It literally looked like an ice skating rink as cars were spinning everywhere.

Drivers were very angry as Power sprinted to official Charles and even flipped the bird to officials while walking in the garage area.  TV cameras caught the gesture, and Power is expected to be fined this week.

Even team owner Michael Andretti was bad-mouthing Barnhart.

All this commotion and confusion happened only for Barnhart to say he made a mistake and say the final finishing order would be reverted to the order they were in before the restart.  That was good news for Power, who ended back up to fifth and closed the championship gap to 47 points.

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The Move that Block 225 was very entertaining, to say the least, after the brief rain shower that interrupted racing action just short of the midway point.  The rain wasn't heavy enough to bring out the red flag, but they ran some yellow flag laps to keep heat on the track.

Dario Franchitti looked like he was well on his way to extend his points lead in the championship standings in dominating the first 119 laps, but he was knocked out of the race on the restart after a scary incident involving Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Tomas Scheckter just a few laps prior.

Franchitti, who was leading at the restart, collided with Takuma Sato, second place at the time, on the double file restart at the start/finish line.  A very angry Franchitti ended his streak of 43 consecutive races running at the finish.  That was the second longest streak in the history of IndyCar.  Only Patrick, whose streak is still running, has more consecutive finishes running at the end at 46.

Franchitti led 115 of the 119 laps prior to the incident and finished 21st today.

The scariest incident of the day, as mentioned earlier, was the wreck involving Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Scheckter.

Andretti and Scheckter were both a lap down battling for position off of turn two while Kanaan was running just to the inside.  Andretti and Scheckter touched wheels just off of turn two and sent Scheckter sideways into Kanaan.  Kanaan and Scheckter slide down to the inside and hit the inside tire barrier on the backstretch wall.  Kanaan's No. 82 Lotus got airborne and flipped, causing him to  land upside down.

Kanaan and Scheckter walked away unscathed as Andretti limped around to the pits and was out with a bent suspension.

Kanaan was very angry with Scheckter and Andretti while Andretti said he was just trying to stay out of the way due to a very bad vibration that was caused by contact on lap one while trying to avoid teammate Mike Conway in his first lap wreck with Graham Rahal.

Kanaan, Scheckter and Andretti finished 22nd, 23rd and 24th, respectively.

Alex Tagliani had a scary incident on pit-road in his No. 77 Bowers & Wilkens Honda on lap 142.  He was coming in for a pit-stop and it appeared to be a big fire in the back right side of his car that forced him out of contention.  Tagliani finished 19th on the day.

Helio Castroneves had an incident off of turn two as well.  Helio just lost control of his No. 3 Guidepoint Honda exiting the turn.  He spun and made light contact with the inside tire barrier.  He resumed in the race to finish 11 laps down in 18th place.

The other incident on the day was the first lap wreck of Conway and Rahal.  That was the second first-lap accident in three races for Rahal.  Conway spun in the backstretch and Rahal went inside to try and avoid the spinning Conway, but made hard impact with the No. 27 Honda.

The team with the best overall day was Newman/Hass Racing.  Oriol Servia and rookie James Hinchcliffe both started and finished in the top five.  Servia (second) and Hinchcliffe (fourth) had their best career finishes in the Izod IndyCar Series.


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