FRANCHITTI STRETCHES POINTS LEAD WITH WIN
Dave Lewandowski, IndyCar.com
TORONTO -- Before turning a lap, Dario Franchitti issued a cautionary note about 26 cars squeezing through the narrow twists and turns of the 1.755-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street course in the Honda Indy Toronto.
“Small mistakes will be punished, and in some cases, it could take out multiple cars,” the IZOD IndyCar Series championship points leader said.
It was prescient and also proved to be personal. Tempers flared, multiple cars required rhinoplasty to get back in the fray and questions intertwined with accusations on pit lane until the final double-file restart.
In the end, it was Franchitti who kissed the glass bowl for photographers in the 25th anniversary race, prevailing in the caution-filled 85 laps (eight full-course yellows) for his third victory on the streets of Toronto and 30th of his career.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon was 0.7345 of a second behind and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car for Andretti Autosport was third. Marco Andretti, the race winner 15 days earlier at Iowa Speedway, jumped from the 20th starting position to fourth and Vitor Meira finished a season-high fifth in the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Franchitti broke a tie with Rick Mears (29 wins) and is one behind Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy -- both of whom competed in the race – on the all-time list. But it wasn’t without controversy.
Will Power, the pole sitter in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, overtook Franchitti’s No. 10 car for sixth place in Turn 5 on Lap 54 (five laps after both cycled through for pit stops) and continued to power through by passing Simona de Silvestro’s No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy/HVM Racing car on the next lap for fifth.
On Lap 56, Franchitti attempted to squeeze between Power’s car and the right-side concrete barrier, with minor contact causing Power’s car to spin in Turn 3. By the time the car was restarted, Power had fallen to 16th. A second incident, on Lap 66, ended Power’s day.
Franchitti said he'd take “50 percent of the blame” for the incident.
Power wasn’t as generous.
“It’s just a really disappointing finish for the Verizon car,” said Power, who suffered his second consecutive DNF. “My team did a great job in the pits and we were working our way back toward the front and we got past Franchitti. We went into the corner and I gave him room and then he just drove into me.
“I understood he was going to get penalized but then there was no call. I just don’t understand that. After that we were just trying to get the best result possible before (Alex Tagliani) hit me from behind.”
INDYCAR officials in Race Control reviewed and ruled it a racing incident. Power lost 36 points to Franchitti in the championship chase with his second DNF in a row and trails by 55 heading to the Edmonton Indy in two weeks.
“All I can say is we’ll keep working hard and hopefully come back strong at Edmonton,” he continued.
Franchitti overtook Graham Rahal's No. 38 Service Central car in Turn 1 on Lap 71 on a Lap 71 restart and held off Dixon the remainder of the laps.
"I thought to try and stay clean was extremely tough," said Dixon, who is third in the standings (minus 83 points). "The cars were really hard to drive today, especially on the first couple laps of the restarts. Everybody was fighting everywhere, and then we kind of just got onto a roll there where it was restart after restart after restart, especially towards the end.
"Yellows breed yellows, and I think that was definitely the case today. I think we had a car to win. Track position was definitely key. When it came down to the end it was not so bad to pass some of the guys back in the pack, but once you get to the front and obviously try and pass the ones that are quick, that's definitely more difficult."
Bourdais, the 2004 race winner and threee-time pole sitter, produced a season-best sixth place in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car for Dale Coyne Racing. Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe was seventh and rookie JR Hildebrand advanced 14 positions to finish eighth. E.J. Viso recorded his second top 10 of the season, and de Silvestro posted her third.
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