By A.J. Foyt
The IZOD IndyCar Series returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first time in 13 years and while the track had changed a little bit, the area around it had not—it was still as pretty as I remembered it.Unfortunately, things got pretty ugly on race day, starting with the weather. And it went downhill from there.
For our ABC Supply team, we were not having a great weekend as we couldn’t settle on the combination that made Vitor Meira super confident in the No. 14 car. It was definitely better than the last two short ovals we ran—Milwaukee and Iowa—but he was still hesitant to get in there and mix it up even though he said the ABC Supply car was good in the race.
In this race that hesitation probably worked in his favor because he was able to miss some big accidents when cars in midfield got loose and began spinning or some drivers crowded others to the point of touching wheels and then became victims themselves.
Vitor avoided trouble and that’s how we gained most of our positions, going from 19th to 10th.
The MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225—oops Indy 215-- set an unusual precedent which can become a slippery slope for the officials. Because of the weather which was misting heavily, the Indy cars were racing in some pretty moist conditions. The mist changed to rain and on lap 75, the yellow came out for moisture.
The pressure to get in as many laps as possible (even under yellow) was strong. If we made it to the halfway point – lap 113 -- the race could be called official. So we ran over 30 caution laps in a light rain. Then it stopped—for a while. It came back again with about 20 laps to go in the race so there was a second yellow flag for moisture.
With about 10 laps to go in the 225 lap race, the call came over the radio that next time by, it’d be one lap to go. We couldn’t believe it but my son Larry Foyt radioed to Vitor to get ready because we were going green. They tried to do just that and that’s when Danica Patrick, running sixth, spun coming down for the green. It triggered a multicar crash, which again, Vitor got through without a scratch. Two laps later they red flagged the race and Meira was sitting in eighth spot on the scoring chart.
Drivers were angry because the track was not ready to race and Race Control officials said that they made a mistake in letting it go green. Here comes the tricky part—every driver fully expected that the race would restart because the rain had stopped.
There are no do-overs in racing. Up until now. The race officials decided to abort the start and its consequences so that the race ended at lap 215. We finished 10th. If the race restarted --or hadn’t been red-flagged and run to its conclusion under yellow, we would have finished seventh because I doubt Danica could have run with the suspension damage she had.
The point is, once officials try to correct bad calls, they open themselves up to all kinds of trouble. The strength of the rules lies in the consistency in which they’re applied. If officials are constantly interpreting the rules, no one knows what the rules are because the interpretation changes depending on the situation. Why bother to have them?
And what if there were 25 laps left in the race? Would they have aborted the start then? What about all of those fans in the stands that sat through the rain and then saw the race stopped when the rain had stopped? Huh? If the decision was a good one, it would be fair regardless of the circumstances. It’s not just the track that was slippery, it’s the slope that these officials were going down.
You get a bad call in baseball, the ump doesn’t change a ball to a strike, or call a runner safe after he calls him out. You live with it. The decision to shorten the race made four drivers happy and puzzled or ticked off the other 22, some of whom would have benefitted (including mine) if the race had restarted as it should have. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Never have and never will.