On Monday, coming on the heels of the IZOD IndyCar Series announcement of the addition of New Hampshire to the 2011 schedule, I wrote an article praising Randy Bernard for bringing a sense of energy and forward-thinking to the series.
Today, the Indianapolis Business Journal's Anthony Schoettle does his level best to throw water on the idea that Bernard is changing much of anything to this point in his four-month tenure.
Frankly, I could not disagree more. Does the series have issues? Yes. Without a doubt. Flaggin TV ratings are an ominous cloud on the horizon, but as any resident of the Midwest knows, those can break apart and dissolve into nothing as well.
And to say that Bernard has not signed a single major sponsor seems wrong, too. I seem to recall Sunoco coming on board in late May to become the official fuel retailer and convenience store of the series. And if Sunoco plays up this partnership, as they've done with NASCAR (I see Sunoco-NASCAR stickers all over the east coast as I drive out there every summer), that relationship is a solid one.
Rumors of an official rental-car company sponsorship continue to percolate, as well.
The schedule is seemingly improving, and Bernard has made it clear that he will partner with tracks that will market and support the IndyCar Series, which makes too much sense not to have happened earlier. To boot, Bernard feels as if he can build a 24-race schedule in the near future.
All signs point to 2012 being a massive year for the series. With new chassis/engine packages expected to roll out that season, coming shortly after the Centennial celebration at IMS, the IZOD IndyCar Series is poised to make a splash over the next few years. The ABC/ESPN TV contract will be up as well, forcing the network to make a crucial decision - promote the heck out of the series, or risk losing it to NBC/Comcast (i.e. Versus).
Sure, Randy Bernard hasn't cured all the ills of the series. And for a certain faction, he will never be able to solve some of the fissures that have occurred over the last 10 years. But I would venture to guess most fans have been remarkably impressed by Randy Bernard and feel as if he is leading the series in the right direction.