Helio Castroneves praises director

Updated: April 26, 2012, 9:12 PM ET
Associated Press

SAO PAULO -- Helio Castroneves is happy with Beaux Barfield's job as IndyCar's new race director despite disagreeing with the penalty he received after the Long Beach race.

Castroneves said Thursday that Barfield is doing a better job than former director Brian Barnhart, with whom the three-time Indy 500 winner had a few spats.

The Brazilian driver said ahead of the Sao Paulo 300 on Sunday that Barfield is letting the "races flow" this year and drivers like it.

Castroneves said he still disagrees with the 30-second penalty Barfield gave him after an incident in the final lap at Long Beach, but said that at least the director took the time to explain why he made the decision, something he said Barnhart wouldn't do during his time.

"Beaux Barfield is doing a much better job in my opinion than Brian Barnhart did in the last few years," Castroneves said. "Brian started well, but all of a sudden things started changing, the rules started changing, there were too many rules, the drivers didn't know what they could or couldn't do."

Castroneves said Barnhart made things too complicated.

"It was one of the motives we started to complain," he said. "We wanted him to make things simple so the races could flow. That's what's happening with Beaux Barfield. He is letting the races flow."

Castroneves said that with Barfield the yellow flag situations are being handled better, and the new race director is taking his time before making a decision to break the action. Castroneves said that before, almost anything was a motive for a yellow.

Castroneves said Barfield has a more direct approach, which is something that pleases drivers.

"The rules are similar as before, but they are much simpler, now the drivers have an idea of what they can do and of what they can't do," he said.

Castroneves said it was unfortunate that he hit Rubens Barrichello's car at the end of the race in Long Beach two weeks ago, but didn't think he should have been penalized.

"The two cars in front of me braked too hard and I hit Rubens, I didn't mean to do that," he said. "But I didn't agree with the penalty and I went to talk to Beaux Barfield, which was a lot different than how it worked with Brian Barnhart, because he would make a decision and wouldn't explain why."

The penalty dropped Castroneves from 10th to 13th, his worst finish so far after three races. He won the season-opening race in St. Petersburg and was third in Alabama, leaving him second in the points' standings heading into his home race in Sao Paulo on Sunday. Penske teammate Will Power is the championship leader.

Castroneves lashed out at Barnhart last year after a penalty in a race in Japan dropped him from seventh to 22nd because of a pass under yellow on the last lap. The rant started with several strong-worded posts on his Twitter page and escalated in a column published by a Brazilian newspaper at the time.

Castroneves had already been upset with the chief steward then after a decision to award a blocking penalty that cost the Brazilian a victory in the Edmonton race in 2010. Castroneves was irate at the time and harshly confronted officials after leaving his car.

The Brazilian said he is not expecting any rants this year after seeing how Barfield is doing his job.

"At the moment, things are going better than in the past few years," he said.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press