Bernard not focusing on rumors of attempted coup

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said he's tuning out talk of yet another alleged attempt by team owners to oust him as head of the open-wheel series.

Bernard told The Associated Press he had seen a Thursday report on that detailed persistent rumors about team owners trying to push him out as CEO. The report claims some unidentified team owners are trying to line up investors to purchase IndyCar with the intent of firing Bernard.

IndyCar is owned by the Hulman-George family, and Bernard reports to a board of directors.

"I have heard and read different stories, and my focus is only on completing this year, next year and our long-term strategy at IndyCar," Bernard told The AP in a phone interview. "I'm very optimistic about the future of IndyCar."

In May, two days after the Indianapolis 500, Bernard took to Twitter to address rampant rumors of team owners trying to push him out as head of the series he took over in 2010. The talk had swirled around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the monthlong buildup to the race, and Bernard confirmed he was aware of the plot.

"It is true that an owner is calling others trying to get me fired. I have had several owners confirm this. Disappointing," he tweeted.

The tweet shifted the focus from the biggest race of the year and put it squarely on the ongoing strife between IndyCar management and team owners. But, it also seemed to silence the talk, at least for a bit.

Now, the talk appears to be back as team owners remain disgruntled about many topics, none more so than the rising costs of racing in IndyCar. An exclusive deal between IndyCar and chassis manufacturer Dallara means teams are forced to buy spare parts from Dallara at steeply marked up prices.

Bernard has been unsuccessful in getting Dallara to come down on prices that some team owners have alleged are hiked up by as much as 40 percent above cost.

The report comes as IndyCar returns to the track after a three-week hiatus. The series races Sunday at Sonoma, where four drivers are locked into one of the most competitive championship races in years.

And, it comes as Bernard is working hard on a long-term strategy for IndyCar.

Among his ideas is a series of double-header races next season at road and street courses. Bernard's thought is that by running on both Saturdays and Sundays, he can increase IndyCar's television presence — something the series desperately needs to grow.

"That's merely an idea — something I've started to discuss with team owners, promoters, television partners, drivers and engine manufacturers," he said. "It's an idea that requires significant evaluation and advice from all the partners associated with IndyCar."

There are three races remaining in this abbreviated IndyCar season, which is scheduled to conclude Sept. 15 at Fontana. The schedule is at just 15 races this year after IndyCar canceled its planned season-ender at Las Vegas following last year's death of Dan Wheldon and promoters of an August race in China pulled the plug on that event.

Bernard has stressed he wants at least 19 races in 2013 — he needs events to build momentum for the series — and has said he'll announce a schedule in early September. Last year's schedule was not released until late December.

He said his only focus is to push forward with a plan on building IndyCar into a viable series.

"I believe the board of directors brought me in to increase viewership and exposure for the series," he said. "That's the only thing I'm focused on right now."