July 10, 2011
Bunch of angry Indy drivers
By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Honda Indy Toronto officials couldn’t have found a better guy than Dan Aykroyd to start Sunday’s race.
The Kingston native was, after all, one of the stars of The Blues Brothers, the 1980 comedy that featured dozens upon dozens of cars crashing into each other.
Indeed, only minutes after Aykroyd gave the command, “Drivers start your engines!”, the carnage began. And by the end of the race, there were more angry and bitter drivers on Lakeshore Blvd than there usually are during a typical Toronto rush hour. Yes, the race was that hairy.
The Indy featured non-stop crashing and even more bitterness, and when the smoke cleared (literally) IZOD IndyCar Series points leader Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing managed to hold on for the victory, although the Scotsman certainly didn’t escape controversy or contact.
In fact, Franchitti was involved in probably the most controversial crash of the day when he made contact with defending Honda Indy Toronto champion Will Power in Turn 3 on lap 56, while the two were battling for fifth. Franchitti survived the contact unscathed, but Power spun out and was not happy afterwards, calling Franchitti’s move on the inside “a pretty dirty move”. The Aussie, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was also incensed that Franchitti wasn’t penalized.
“I’m really disappointed,” Power said, who started Sunday’s race on the pole. “I always race him clean and he always races me dirty. (And) he never gets a penalty from Indy Car. It’s just not right.”
About 10 laps later, Power was hit from behind by Canadian Alex Tagliani and made contact with the tire barrier in Turn 5. That was bitter icing on the cake.
“That’s pretty typical for him,” Power said of Tagliani. “He’s always been a wanker.”
The name-calling was as fast and furious as the race itself. You had Power, and Australian, angry at Franchitti, a Scott. An American, Danica Patrick, pissed at a Japanese racer Takuma Sato. (Patrick could be heard on her in-car radio calling Sato “an idiot” after she was hit on Lap 7). You even had a couple of good Canadian boys miffed at each other, after rookie Indy driver James Hinchcliffe and veteran Paul Tracy made contact on lap 38, with Tracy suffering damage to his Sarah Fisher Racing car. At that point of the race, Tracy, who started way back at the 24th spot, had climbed all the way up to seventh and was having a good day. Ten laps later, Tracy was involved in a four-car crash, which included Vitor Meira, Charlie Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais, the 2004 Toronto champion.
All in all there were eight green caution flags and seven full course yellow flags issued.
The final incident occurred with only five laps remaining, on lap 80, when American Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished third, made contact with his countryman Graham Rahal, the son of 1986 Toronto Indy winner Bobby Rahal. That resulted in probably the best quote of the day.
“I guess when some people strap on their helmet, they lose their brain,” said Rahal of Hunter-Reay. Rahal challenged for the lead for most the day until that incident.
Franchitti, for his part, called the 2011 Honda Indy Toronto “wild and crazy” and acknowledged that Power had reason to be angry.
“Ultimately, I will take more than 50% of the blame, but he’s got some of the blame too,” said Franchitti, after recording his third win in Toronto, adding that Power’s description of him as a guy who races dirty was a “slight exaggeration.”
“We’ve had contact once, which was today,” said Franchitti. “I think it was a racing incident at best. I don’t think I’m known throughout the paddock as a driver who races people dirty.”
The upside to all of Sunday’s craziness and crashing was that nobody was seriously hurt, though there is a lot of bad blood heading towards the next Indy event, the Edmonton Indy on July 24.