Mann’s dream comes to crashing halt

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:52 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS — Pippa Mann’s dream of becoming the first female to win a sanctioned race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May came to a crashing halt on just the second lap of the Indy Lights Firestone Freedom 100.

Mann had started on the pole — becoming the first of her gender to do that at IMS — but after falling back to seventh she was pushed hard into the wall by veteran driver Jeff Simmons.

“The car felt good and I knew we were in a good position. We just needed to stay out of trouble,” Mann said afterwards. “Unfortunately, Jeff was forced down on to the white line and his car just spun in front of me. I tried to avoid him as best I could but in reality, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time today.”

Hinchcliffe finishes third

A driving error by France’s J.K. Vernay cost Canadian James Hinchcliffe a win on Friday in the Indy Lights Firestone Freedom 500.

Hinchcliffe, a native of Oakville, Ont., started eighth on the grid but within a dozen laps was up challenging Wade Cunningham, of Australia, who won for the third time at Indy.

But a rookie mistake by Vernay, who came flying out of pit lane in front of Hinchcliffe, created enough dirty air to slow the Canadian down significantly.

Hinchcliffe said he’ll file that one away, hinting a payback may be in order at a later race.

“We ran up with Wade there and then we sort of got thrown a curve ball with J.K. coming out of the pits a bunch of laps down,” Hinchcliffe said.

“A bit unnecessary because he ended up sort of costing me; he stole the air off the front of my car one lap and I thought I was going into the exit of Turn 1, had to lift and gear down and that’s when I lost second place.”

Hinchcliffe ended up third.

“It’s unfortunate that that happened but we remember these things, it’s a long season,” he said of his run-in with Vernay.

“It’s cool. For us to be on the podium here at Indianapolis is an amazing feeling. I mean, it would have been nice to be a three-car run right at the finish line, for sure, but from where we started, I think we did a good job.”

Lovin’ your rivals

It’s a good thing for team owner Roger Penske that the Indy Racing League doesn’t have a tampering rule for its top-tier IndyCar series.

On Friday, just prior to the final practice for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, Penske, cast an admiring eye on former winners Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

Unfortunately both those drivers are under contract to rival team owner Chip Ganassi.

But that didn’t stop Penske from telling a group of media members that he’d like to have the two on his Penske Racing squad.

“Obviously, we’ve got some great drivers, (but) Scott Dixon and Franchitti, they could ride in our team any time,” Penske said. “I feel that way about the two drivers (Ganassi) has.”

Penske has a few blue chippers himself in three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.

Tracy going to Edmonton

Paul Tracy will race at the Honda Edmonton Indy, it was officially announced on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Although the Toronto native already has a deal to race at the Honda Indy Toronto and was expected to extend that deal to the Alberta capital, it wasn’t official.

“He’s always been a huge favourite with our fans,” said race promoter and Edmonton Northlands CEO Ken Knowles.

“We know that Paul’s a fan of the race track at City Centre Airport. Having Paul and Alex Tagliani, the other key member of Team Oh Canada, race against each other will provide some very exciting moments during the three days in July.”


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