Speculation regarding Brian Barnhart's future within the IZOD IndyCar Series has taken on a life of its own in recent weeks, and while the former series president will see his duties expand this season, it will not, as some have suggested, include leading the open-wheel organization from the top.
“Brian continues to be an executive member of INDYCAR and his understanding of our sport continues to provide our organization with valuable input," read a statement supplied by the series. "However, Brian’s future role with INDYCAR will not be as CEO of the organization.”
Barnhart will, however, play a greater role within INDYCAR's competition department.
The longtime series employee held the position of President of Competition and Racing Operations through the 2011 season, but under the direction of former series CEO Randy Bernard, saw most of his power and authority stripped heading into 2012.
With Bernard no longer involved with the series, Barnhart has been utilized in a more meaningful capacity and that trend is expected to continue as he is tasked with greater responsibilities in the competition department.
Barnhart earned high marks from IndyCar teams for handling the spare parts price saga, and also lent his experience to a number of internal projects, including the recent Leader Circle payout structure.
Although Barnhart's exact duties within the series' new management structure are still somewhat undefined, it's known he will take more of an overarching position on competition-related decisions within the IndyCar offices.
I'm told that Barnhart, who also served as INDYCAR’s Race Director through 2011, will not influence on-track activities during race weekends, meaning current Race Director Beaux Barfield and his team of stewards will continue to act autonomously.