R: The tire situation appeared to have caught a couple drivers out, so what was the call about what tires could have been run coming out of the red flag? You had said, “blacks stay on blacks, reds on reds.”
BB: That was my gut feel at the time. We were effectively mid-stint, and so to require a change mid-stint just from a logic standpoint, if Firestone wants you to change, you can only change to the current compound you're on. I didn't want that to flip-flop the race and switch the compound from one set to another.
But in retrospect, if I had to do it all over again, I would not have over-managed the situation to that extent. If Firestone wants you to change tires, then you should go ahead and put whatever tires you want on. We're gonna race 15 laps and be done.
That was an overreaction on my part. I had good support from race control and officials on the ground. It made sense. It's easy to look back now, because it was difficult circumstances. It definitely had a negative impact, unfortunately, on (Ryan) Briscoe and (Josef) Newgarden. I feel bad for them.
The timing was unfortunate as well. We didn't get the information from Firestone until almost we had drivers in the cars, and ready to go back green. We'd allowed everyone to change quickly. I was getting information on the fly, quickly, that two cars had changed compounds when I told them not to. But I didn't get the context that they didn't have a new set of their current compound tires. Had I gotten that quickly, I could have said, forget the mandate on same compound. But I couldn't make that decision before we got back going.
Having said that, the plan was in case people needed to make a repair or change tires, or even take fuel, is that the plan all along was to send the cars behind the pace car and not go green until second time by. Repair, tire change or fuel, they had an opportunity to do that before green. It's easy for me to say – based on concerns that Briscoe had afterwards, that was one where they could have taken advantage.
(Editor's note: Joe Barbieri, manager, Firestone Racing, clarified Firestone's role in what tires could be changed. His clarification, sent via email, is below.)
JOE BARBIERI: The tires on all the cars gathered quite a bit of pickup during the full-course caution period prior to the red flag. The pick-up would have been difficult to clean off the tires in the few laps after the race was to resume, so in the interest of making it a better show for the fans that stayed, we discussed with IndyCar allowing teams to switch sets for those final laps. However, the specific details about how the switch was to take place were handled and regulated by IndyCar.
R: So teams still could, but after refiring from pit lane, and before the restart.
BEAUX BARFIELD: Exactly. That would be more in line with a race-type strategy, gamble, take it upon yourself. To change your compounds on your own time, not on mine, as we're tending to track issues.
R: There hadn't been an in-race restart until after the red flag. What was your assessment of the restarts?
BB: Honestly, for what I saw, for the parameters I laid out in the drivers' meeting, I was happy with them. It's a very difficult place to get the kind of formation we've come to expect this year. Based on the nature of the track, they form up about Turn 12, because Turns 8 through 12 are difficult to go side-by-side. From there, we have three right-hand turns before start/finish.
In terms of the way (Scott) Dixon controlled the field as I asked at the driver's meeting, the way the remainder of the field paired up to that acceleration point, I thought it was fine.
One thing was different – I had to take these starts/restarts under my control, because there was no line of sight for the starter (Paul Blevin) from his vantage point. I was calling those myself on the radio. I saw the form-up, the acceleration, and I have no problem with any of them.