A racing series hiring a new chief steward shouldn't be big news, but unfortunately the controversies (and I won't rehash them) that Brian Barnhart brought on over the last couple of years made it just that for IndyCar. Those decisions cost Barhart his job, and Beaux Barfield was tapped Wednesday as his replacement.
The 40-year-old Barfield comes from the ALMS series and has an extensive background in open wheel racing, both as an official and a driver. That in itself will lend respect and credibility to his job, something that I believe Barnhart lacked, especially as time went on.
Unfortunately, that leaves Barfield with some huge shoes to fill...and not in a good way. A lot of work needs to be done to clean up the rulebook and restore faith in the management of the races, not only in the eyes of the drivers and teams, but especially the fans. I think a lot of decisions made last year were very disheartening at times because some of them (such as the restart in the rain at New Hampshire) caught the public eye and made the series look really bad.
Barfield plans to clean up a lot of "gray areas", which is a good thing. I believe one place he should start is in the enforcement of infractions. As in, action "A" gets you penalty "B", with no exceptions.
Penalties need to have the same consequence every time. The only gray area that should exist is in determining the infraction. Just like how you could call holding on pretty much every play in the NFL, deciding to call that foul is up to the referee's discretion. However, when the flag comes out of his pocket, it is 10 yards. Same concept here, an infraction yields the same penalty. EVERY TIME!
No, you can never get a hyper-competitive group of people to believe they are all being treated fairly, but drawing a line and firmly standing there is a good start. Let's hope he is able to do that.