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Chip Ganassi backs IndyCar chief Randy Bernard

December 20, 2011 |  1:53 pm

Randy Bernard's stewardship of the Izod IndyCar Series has been controversial at times, but one of the series' leading team owners, Chip Ganassi, said Tuesday he supports Bernard.

BernardBernard is wrapping up his second year as the series' chief executive, a season marred by the death of Dan Wheldon in a 15-car crash at the last race Oct. 16 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Bernard, hired to reverse a drop in IndyCar's popularity following a bitter, 12-year split among series participants, heavily promoted the Las Vegas race, one of several steps he's taken in a bid to grow IndyCar's following. IndyCar also plans to introduce a new race car starting in 2012.

"Just about every time he comes up for air, [Bernard] gets pushed back under the water again," Ganassi told reporters on a teleconference. "The good news is I think Randy's shown great ability to breathe under water.

"There's a lot of facets in this sport that someone coming in from the outside has to learn," said Ganassi, whose driver Dario Franchitti won his third consecutive championship this year and fourth overall.

"No one has been a more willing learner than Randy Bernard," Ganassi continued. "Look at the things that have gone on since he came into the sport  . . . a new car, a new engine formula, a new rules package, [a] new way of buying and distributing the cars. So he's doing fine, I think."

--Jim Peltz

Photo: Randy Bernard, chief executive of the Izod IndyCar Series, during a memorial service for the late driver Dan Wheldon on Oct. 23 in Indianapolis. Credit: Michael Conroy/Associated Press