Will Power leads the field from P1 at the Honda Indy Toronto. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series
Honda-Powered Dallaras Heat Up The Streets (and driver tempers) Of The Honda Indy Toronto
Round 10 of 18, the Honda Indy Toronto proved to be one of the toughest tests of man, women, and machine of the season. We are beginning the second half of the season and what was shaping up to be a tightly contested two to four driver series championship points race was undone in part due to timing and, of course, full course yellow flag caution periods.
Will Power, entered the race by securing the pole, but still 20 points down to Dario Franchitti, the driver that took the points lead last year in the last race in order to secure his third IndyCar Series Championship. Will Power has done well here in Toronto (reining 2010 race winner) and he was hoping to climb back in the middle of the race for the season points lead on the strength of his Firestone Fast Six Peak Pole Award starting position.
The flag drops to start the race and everything looked good at the beginning because Will's car and his driving skill had the best of the two red Target Chip Ganassi racing Dallaras behind him. At about lap 27, Dario Franchitti heads into the pits a little early to shake things up and get on a different pit sequence and this became the first chink in Power's hold on the lead. Three laps later, Power teammate Helio Castroneves spins out Alex Tagliani in turn 3 bringing out the second full course caution out of eight in the race. This, on restart, places Dario Franchitti at the lead of the race and in attitudinal control from this point forward.
Double-file restarts become the attention draw they were intended to be, with three-wide contests going into turn one and cleaning themselves up by turn two, only to increase the level of contest going into the end of a high-speed straight at turn three where most of the day's full course cautions were launched.
By lap 54, with the help of a slowing Simona de Silvestro, Power was able to gain enough spots to pass by and get ahead of Dario Franchitti where Power felt he could recapture the lead of the race on pit sequence, but Dario had other ideas. When the next time these two drivers came to turn 3, Dario decided to stick his nose in where there wasn't any room and pulled off a NASCAR style punt on Will ... and spun him around. By the time Will Power was able to get turned back around and running, he was back in the fields at P13. The IndyCar Series Championship points gap between Franchitti and Power enlarges to 55 before going on to Round 12 of 18 at Edmonton, July 24th, 2011.
Helmet of the points leading Dario Franchitti as he and his team celebrates the contraversial win at Exposition place in Toronto. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series
This excerpted and edited from Racer -
Power slams Franchitti after clash
RACER - July 11, 2011
Afterward a furious Power said the series officials should have taken action against Franchitti.
"It doesn't surprise me that he didn't get a penalty, because he never gets penalized, it's pretty typical," said Power in an interview with Versus. "It was a pretty dirty move. He just turned me around. Does anyone ever penalize this guy? He's as dirty as you like.
"I left the inside open on the brakes. I'm really disappointed with Dario. I always race him clean, and he always races me dirty. He did the same at St. Pete, though I didn't say anything, and he did the same today. Disappointed in Dario. The guy who mouths off about everyone and whinges about everyone, and he's the guy who races the most dirty, never gets a penalty from IndyCar. It's just not right."
There was a lot more that ended up not being right as there was hot action around turn three, the pits, and the rest of the track for that matter.
Alex Tagliani's car goes airborne after colliding with Danica Patrick's car on the streets of Toronto. Patrick was able to return to the race after having the nose of her car replaced with a spare part from teammate Marco Andretti. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series
Danica Patrick, for her part, finished yet another race in rolling condition, extending her IZOD IndyCar Series record to 43, but this was not without incident. She ran well all race after starting P21 of 26 cars, concentrating at going fast and had worked her way up to the top 10 when she entered turn three with the Dale Coyne Racing Dallara of James Jakes turned around in the corner on lap 71. To avoid contact, Danica ended up pushing Alex Tagliani's Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara (not his first incident in the race) up on its sidepod along the wall as he, a Canadian crowd favorite, luckily misses injury. This results in damaging Danica's front wing and delivers the eighth and final full course yellow.
Confusion ensues for Danica and her team as they do not have a replacement for her damaged front wing. As it turns out, Andretti Autosport gave the wing away to support the effort of teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay on his way to a podium (P3) finish but did not anticipate another incident. As Danica had wait in her pit, Antretti Autosport found a wing in Marco Andretti's pit (Marco finished in P4) and rushed it over to Patrick's pit and it was installed. One can only wonder, if Andretti Autosport were prepared for the Patrick incident (or just any team incident - bad team management process), where would she have ended the race ... probably a lot better than P19 and the next to the last car running on the track ahead of KV Racing Technologies/Lotus team's Takuma Sato, both ending the race six laps down.
One of many of the picturesque views to be had at one of the premiere temporary street courses in North America - the Honda Indy Toronto. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series
The crowd was big and full of the excitement generated throughout the race by the close wheel-to-wheel, carbon-fiber action. Can any standard oval race course deliver this kind of intensity and competition throughout a race?
Street and road courses look great on TV and the action on small bullring (1 mile or less) courses with close open wheel action has fans on the edge of their seats leaving the regular oval track wanting for something other than "event" trappings to bring people to the track or turning on their TV sets! It is a question fair to ask.
... notes from The EDJE
[Article first published as Honda-Powered Dallaras Heat Up The Streets (and driver tempers) Of The Honda Indy Toronto on Technorati]